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.
The first known published Christmas card (1843), by artist John Calcott Horsley
Courtesy of the Hallmark Archives, Hallmark Cards, Inc.
By the early 1400s, 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-1400s.
By the 1850s, the greeting card had been transformed from a relatively expensive, handmade and hand-delivered gift to a popular and affordable means of personal communication, due largely to advances in printing and mechanization, as well as the 1840 introduction of the postage stamp.
The first known published Christmas card appeared in London in 1843, when Sir Henry Cole hired artist John Calcott Horsley to design a holiday card that he could send to his friends and acquaintances.
Although the first known valentine card can be traced back to 1415, it wasn’t until the early 1800s and the Penny Post that they became popular and affordable. Esther Howland, a young woman from Massachusetts, was the first regular publisher of valentines in the United States. She sold her first handmade valentine in 1849, eventually establishing a successful publishing firm specializing in the elaborately decorated cards.
The American Greeting Card
Louis Prang, a German immigrant who started a small lithographic business near Boston in 1856, is generally credited with the start of the greeting card industry in America.
Within 10 years of founding his firm, he had perfected the color lithographic process to a point where his reproductions of great paintings surpassed those of other graphic arts craftsmen in both the U.S. and Great Britain. In the early 1870s, Prang began publishing deluxe editions of Christmas cards, which found a ready market in England. In 1875, he introduced the first complete line of Christmas cards to the American public.
Prang’s cards had reached their height of popularity in the early 1890s, when cheap imitative imports began to flood the market, eventually forcing Prang to abandon his greeting card publishing business. Between 1890 and 1906, there was a marked decline in U.S. greeting card production.
In the years immediately following 1906, the domestic business climate for greeting cards improved, and a number of today’s leading publishers were founded. Most of the cards by these fledgling U.S. publishers bore little relation to Prang’s elaborate creations. The expressed sentiment was the predominant element; the illustrated portions were incidental.
Following World War I, new publishers continued to enter the field and healthy competition produced important innovations in printing processes, art techniques and decorative treatments for greeting cards.
In the early 1930s, publishers increasingly adopted the use of color lithography, a move that would propel the U.S. greeting card industry toward continued growth and expansion.
During World War II, the industry rallied for the war effort, helping the government sell war bonds and providing cards for the soldiers overseas. This period also marked the beginning of its close relationship with the U.S. Postal Service.
By the 1950s, the studio card – a long card with a short punch line – appeared on the scene to firmly establish the popularity of humor in American greeting cards.
During the 1980s, alternative cards began to appear – cards not made for a particular holiday or event, but as a more casual reminder of our connections to one another. The popularity of “non-occasion” cards continues to swell.
Explosive growth in electronic technology, and burgeoning consumer use of the Internet, gave birth to the electronic greeting card or E-card in the late 1990s. The development of this entirely new medium for card-sending served to further expand the industry, producing new E-card publishers as well as E-greeting product offerings by traditional publishers.
Although studies have shown, that most people prefer, the actual heart felt card, in the mail, that they can cherish forever.
Today’s busy schedules often leave little time for enriching people’s lives – our own included. But, carving out time to reach out to loved ones and strengthen our personal connections helps to boost our emotional well-being. Connecting with friends and family doesn’t have to take a lot of effort and it is often the simple, small gesture that has the most impact when it comes to showing someone how much you care.
Sending a greeting card is one of those simple gestures that reminds people someone is thinking about them. Making someone else feel special can also have the effect of making the sender feel good too. With all of the stress in people’s lives today, that small oasis of contentment is something we need now more than ever.
A recent survey by the Greeting Card Association found that almost 9 out of 10 Americans believe they are as close or closer to their friends and family than they were one year ago and 66% of Americans are regularly reaching out to their immediate family for love and support. Many times they are doing this, thru the simple process of sending out a greeting card in the mail.
Connecting with friends and family can occur because of a sense of obligation to recognize important life events, or it can simply result from an impulsive desire to reach out. Sometimes one person connecting with another will set off a boomerang effect of reaching out!
Imagine what an amazing thing can happen in the lives of others, if everyone decided to just *reach out* and send out cards every single day – just 1 card a day – to someone that you thought about. Just a nice, touchy/feely type card, to make someone smile.
62% of people feel inspired to send someone a card if they receive one from that person.
Follow these simple tips to stay connected with friends and family and boost your own sense of emotional well-being:
Set aside an allotted amount of time each day to reach out to others. Reaching out doesn’t take a lot of time, but it can be very meaningful to those we touch. A simple phone call, e-mail or greeting card reminds our loved ones how much we care. (Example: Just take 10 minutes every morning, not a big deal, not a huge time restraint, and easy to do, and enrich others lives – as well as yours – (contact me for details of a SIMPLE way to do this)).
Take time to reflect on what is important and of value in your life microsoft project alternative. You can start a gratitude journal and write down everything and everyone you are grateful for. Writing down things of importance help us to remember the most special personal connections. I decided to keep a journal once, and all it was, was ONCE a day, every day, I would write SOMETHING good about that day – or something good that happened in that day. It is amazing the difference it makes you feel overall.
Don’t wait for a reason to connect. Life is too short to hold back when it comes to connecting with friends and family. (And we are never promised tomorrow.) Sending a “thinking of you” or “just because” card can be one of the best ways to show someone you care.
Reflect your own personality when reaching out to loved ones. Whether it’s a romantic note on a pillow or a humorous card in the mail, connections with friends and family should showcase your own attitude and sentiment.
Hold on to your personal connections through tangible memories. One of the best ways to keep our connections top of mind is by holding on to a physical momento or keepsake. Reflecting on old letters and cards helps us to remember our most special connections.
Try it for 30 days – and let me know how this project has enriched your life – I guarantee you – you will never be the same, and you will never stop. Just take 10 min each day, for 30 days, and in that 10 min, make a phone call, write an email, or better yet, send out a card to someone. Just to tell them, thank you, you were thinking about them, you love them, they did a great job, etc. Anything, prompt yourself to think of ONE person a day to do this for. If you want an EASY way to do it with the greeting cards, contact me. But either way – please do it – and share your results with me after 30 days.