The History of Card Giving

Olivia Hague-Delves | 30 September, 2016

            The History of Card Giving

Card giving and the history of it actually started all around the world before it came to Great Britain. But there are some things about greetings cards and the postal service that you may find rather interesting!

The History of Card Giving goes back centuries

Card giving has been around for centuries and it actually started in ancient China where it was used to exchange messages of good will when celebrating the New Year.

They were also used in Europe around the 15th Century as personalised greetings cards.

But in England greetings cards and card giving came to light when Prince Albert brought the tradition of Christmas trees and decorations from Germany when he married Queen Victoria in 1840. It soon became a new trend in Great Britain.

It was Sir Henry Cole who came up with the idea of illustrating greetings cards in order for them to be given at Christmas time. He sold them with his friend for just a shilling; that is 5 pence today.

Greetings Cards delivery back in the day...

King Henry VIII

Guess what else founded in the 15th Century? Royal Mail! Well, someone had to post all of the greetings cards that where trending around Europe. Royal Mail was founded when King Henry VIII was elected ‘Master of the Post’. 


Sending a Greetings Card in 1840

First Christmas Greetings Card
An image of the Penny Black stamp, the first stamp in the world.

An image of an illustrated greetings card designed and sold by Sir Henry Cole.

Sending Greetings Cards in Victorian Britain

Another fun fact about the history of card giving was that Britain was the first country to issue pre-paid postal stamps. The Penny Black stamp was the first adhesive stamp with  the circulation of the stamp starting on May 1st 1840. The stamp had a side profile image of Queen Victoria. The Black Penny stamp allowed the postage to be delivered for a charge of 1 penny.