Sending greeting cards is a national pastime in the UK. But prior to the mid-19th century, individuals had to create their own greeting cards. While this sufficed for personal use among friends and family, Sir Henry Cole, a man with numerous responsibilities, needed a large quantity of Christmas cards for his numerous contacts.
Sir Henry, known for his involvement in establishing the Public Records Office, the postal system, the Great Exhibition of 1851, and the foundation of what is now the Royal College of Art, was a busy and forward-thinking individual. In 1843, he enlisted a printer to produce his Christmas cards, which turned out to be a resounding success. The concept quickly caught on, enabling anyone to purchase printed cards.
However, the affordability of these cards posed a challenge since each design had to be meticulously hand-drawn and printed through the lithographic printing process.
The advent of photography revolutionized the history of commercial greeting cards in the UK. Printers soon discovered how to incorporate photographic images into their cards, making the previously labor-intensive process considerably faster and easier.
Nonetheless, this progress came at a cost. With the rise of machines, the traditional arts of etching and lithographic drawing fell out of widespread use, and individuals working in these fields became part of the industrial workforce. Such is the nature of progress.
At Flying Twigs, we prioritize the individuality of each card design, always considering the buyer and the recipient in mind.
You’re part of a vast community when it comes to sending cards. In 2012 alone, people in the UK exchanged a staggering 952 million greeting cards. If we add Christmas cards to the mix, the average Briton sends over 30 cards each year.
Thanks to digital printing, which enables cost-effective small print runs, the greeting card industry shows no signs of slowing down. Our fondness for cards remains strong, and we continue to send them with enthusiasm.
Birthday cards, Mother’s Day cards, and Valentine’s Day cards top the list of popular choices. So there you have it: The choice is yours.
And if you want to read more about the history of commercial greeting cards in the UK and all the many technologies that have brought us to today’s digital printing, read our History of Greeting Cards.