Category: Vintage Arts

It’s Christmas Card Time!

People have been giving and receiving Christmas greetings in some form or another for hundreds of years but when did giving Christmas cards become so popular?. Well it seems it all began in 1843 with art patron Sir Henry Cole (1808-1882), founder of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London (and also designer of “Summerly’s” tea service made by Minton). This caricature of Sir Henry by James Tissot appeared in Vanity Fair in 1871.

Sir Henry Cole

Sir Henry used to hand write greetings to his family and friends on sheets of paper decorated with Christmas themes but decided he had too many to do so he commissioned 1,000 hand-coloured cards to be printed by London artist John Calcott Horsley. Sir Henry wanted something that would be suitable for everyone so Horsley designed a triptych with scenes on each of the side panels depicting the charitable essence of Christmas: feeding the poor and clothing the homeless. In the centre was the message “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year To You” (the message that is still today the standard Christmas card sentiment) under a beautiful drawing of a family toasting the season. And remember – Horsley hand coloured each one!

 

Henry Cole Christmas Card

Sir Henry sent half the cards personally and 500 were sold for the then huge price of one shilling each (probably a week’s wage for the average person). Only about nine have survived and today they can sell for thousands of pounds at auction. Due to the cost involved exchanging cards started out as something only the wealthy could afford to do.

Later, during the Victorian period cards were illustrated with gorgeous intricate designs and vivid colours, often hand-painted and from around the 1860’s a process known as chromolithography produced cards with colours so intense they rival anything produced today. By the 1880’s Christmas cards had verses inside and started to show more seasonal images.

The practice of sending cards caught on in England aided by the Postal Act of 1840, which allowed a piece of mail to be sent anywhere in the United Kingdom for just one penny. Strangely enough Sir Henry himself was involved in establishing this better postal system and creating the first self-adhesive postage stamp, the Penny Black (he provided the sketch of Queen Victoria used on the stamp).

The start of a cheaper postal service in 1870 made it affordable for almost everyone to send cards and it became a true Christmas tradition.

The Edwardian era brought with it more Santa Claus-themed cards with robes of many different colours but it wasn’t until the 1930’s when the Coca-Cola Company adopted St.Nicholas (and fattened him up a bit!) to promote it’s drinks that he became synonymous with the red and white we know and love today!

If you love vintage Christmas cards do have a look at some of the images from Raphael Tuck & Sons, De La-Rue and Marcus Ward & Co. Here’s just a very few of our favourites!

 

 


Published by annie, on 11th December 2012 at 6:36 pm. Filled under: Christmas,Vintage Activities,Vintage Arts,Vintage Events,Vintage Local History Tags: , , Comments Off on It’s Christmas Card Time!

Wartime Christmas

As ever the Tank Museum at Bovington put on a great show at the weekend with their Wartime Christmas Festival. There was so much to see and do with lots of stalls selling fab Christmas goodies to wonderful living history talks and presentations. All set around some amazing displays of tanks and other wartime equipment from World War One to the present day.

We absolutely loved the 1940’s fashion show. The guys and girls putting on the fab show (The Blitz Buddies) really knew their stuff about fashion from the time and the talk was fascinating and informative as well as good fun – those parachute silk bloomers were terrific! We learned loads about utility fashion and the CC41 symbol.

In 1941 the Government introduced “Controlled Commodities” – things that needed to be rationed due to the fact that raw materials such as cloth, wool, metals etc were in short supply. These goods were identified with a CC41 symbol or Controlled Commodity 41 (often mis-quoted as Civilian Clothing 1941) and can be found on clothes, furniture and housewares. Just like foood rationing, families were issued with special coupons allowing them to buy limited supplies of CC41 items.CC41 Logo on Vintage Dorset blog

The Utility Clothing Scheme came in and although not well received at first, people quickly became adept at making their own accessories and adapting what they had.

Here’s some pictures from the fashion show. Many of the clothes were original and the group go to some trouble to trace the history of the items where they can – especially uniforms. Some of the items were reproductions but everything looked amazing!

We also sat and listened to a fascinating talk all about life during the Blitz and what it was like to live with the constant threat of bombing. The lovely men dressed in their Home Guard and ARP (Air Raid Precaution) Warden uniforms had an incredible amount of knowledge and passion for their subject. We were told about incendiary bombs and the fact that even though you can buy deactivated ones on internet sites such as Ebay they are still potentially lethal as the casings are made from magnesium which is highly flammable (be warned – if you have one of these in your home you may be invalidating your home insurance!). We also learned that more people were killed in the bombings at home than died actually fighting the war…. a truly sobering thought. Here’s some more pictures of the living history displays – thank you to all those dedicated people that keep our history alive in such a brilliant way. We had a truly great day! By the way – doesn’t this chap look just like the late (and much loved) Clive Dunn, the wonderful Lance-Corporal Jones from Dad’s Army…….


Published by annie, on 5th December 2012 at 7:47 am. Filled under: Christmas,Vintage Activities,Vintage Arts,Vintage Events,Vintage Fashion,Vintage Local History Tags: , , , , , Comments Off on Wartime Christmas