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The world’s first Christmas card is now on display in London

By Anya Meyerowitz

We go online for lots of things these days, but happily, printed Christmas cards seem to have stood the test of time. They come in all shapes and sizes, from those covered in sustainable glitter to 3D wonders depicting classic festive scenes – the options are endless.

But the Christmas card had humble beginnings, as proved by the world's first printed version which has now gone on display as part of an exhibition at the Charles Dickens Museum in London.

Charles Dickens Museum

Created in 1843, the same year that Dickens’s ‘A Christmas Carol’ was published, the hand-coloured card depicts an endearing family scene: people gathered around a table, enjoying a glass of wine together. Underneath the image, a message reads: A merry Christmas and a happy new year to you, with the sender’s signature included beside it. 

Designed by Henry Cole and illustrated by John Callcott Horsley, the card was sent by a son to his parents and was one of just 1,000 original prints – only 21 have survived. 

As well as the Christmas card, the exhibition will feature Dickens’s manuscripts and original illustrations for his Christmas stories and beautifully bound jewel-studded books by Sangorski & Sutcliffe.

‘Beautiful Books: Dickens and the Business of Christmas’. Charles Dickens Museum. Until April 19 2020. £9.50. Tickets can be booked here.  

Feeling festive? Check out our guide to Christmas in London

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