A brief history of Greetings Cards

The custom of sending greeting cards can be traced back to the ancient Chinese, who exchanged messages of good will to celebrate the New Year, and to the early Egyptians, who conveyed their greetings on papyrus scrolls. By the early 15th century, handmade paper greeting cards were being exchanged in Europe.

The Germans are known to have printed New Year's greetings from woodcuts as early as 1400, and handmade paper Valentines were being exchanged in various parts of Europe in the early to mid-15th century, with the oldest Valentine in existence being in the British Museum.

The Victorian Era

By the 1850s, the greeting card became more affordable due mainly to advances in printing, mechanization, and a reduction in postal rates with the introduction of the postage stamp.
New trends like Christmas cards soon became popular in 1843 when Sir Henry Cole hired artist John Calcott Horsley to design a holiday card that he could send to his friends.
In the 1860s, companies began the mass production of greeting cards, employing well known artists, illustrators and card designers. Pictured here is the first Christmas card.

Into the 20th century . . .

Technical developments like color lithography in 1930 propelled the manufactured greeting card industry forward. Humorous greeting cards, known as studio cards, became popular in the late 1940s and 1950s.
In the 1970s, Recycled Paper Greetings, a small company needing to establish a competing identity against the large companies like Hallmark Cards, began publishing humorous, whimsical card designs with the artist's name credited on the back.
This was away from what was known as the standard look and by the 1980s, there was a thriving market for what were now called "alternative" greeting cards, and the name stuck even though these "alternative" cards changed the look of the entire industry.

1940's

1950's

1960's