The Chrismologist's Advent Calendar - Day 16

Thursday 16 December 2010

Remember if you're yet to get your Christmas cards in the post or you still need to send a certain special someone a gift, you haven't got long left to do it in. Last recommended UK posting dates for Christmas are:

Second Class:

Saturday 18 December 2010

First Class:

Tuesday 21 December 2010

Special Delivery:

Thursday 23 December 2010

The postal service is something we take for granted, but without it there would be no convenient way of sending sackloads of cards every year. As a result, the greetings card as we know it didn't appear until the Victorian era when a reliable (and, more importantly, affordable) postal service was created.

The first true commercial Christmas card went on sale in 1843. It was designed and printed at the behest of Sir Henry Cole, a businessman and philanthropist, who had played a key role in introducing the Penny Post in 1840. Thanks to the Penny Post, it was possible to send a letter or card anywhere within Britain. Cole was also the director of the newly founded Victoria and Albert Museum in London and it was his idea to give stamps perforated edges (an affectation that self-adhesive stamps retain today, even there is no physical need for them).

Did you know...?
By the late 19th century, there were between six and twelve mail deliveries per day in London, permitting correspondents to exchange multiple letters within a single day. Sounds a bit like email!

You can read more about the history of the Christmas card in What is Myrrh Anyway? and Christmas Miscellany. And remember, it's not too late to order your copy online and have it sent to you in time for the big day!


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