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Many of the depictions of Father Christmas used to create Victorian chocolate moulds were derived from the illustrations on Christmas cards and postcards. Judi Vaillancourt has also used the inspiration of these cards for the colorations of some of her Chalkware figures.
The first commercial Christmas card was made in England in 1843. Sir Henry Cole, of the Victoria and Albert Museum, asked artist John Calcott Horsley to create a card that could be reproduced. Mr. Horsley lithographed and hand colored 1,000 cards.
The cards that Cole did not use were sold for a shilling each. Other lithographers began to print cards and with the improvements in printing techniques by the 1850’s more detailed, colorful and inexpensive cards were being produced. By the 1880’s sales figures were in the millions.
In 1875 Louis Prang, known as the “Father of the American Christmas Card” introduced the first commercial Christmas card printed in the United States. Prior to this, cards were imported from Europe and England. Prang, a German lithographer, migrated to Boston in 1850 and started his own printing company. By the 1860’s he was reproducing oil paintings using a technique he invented called “chromolithography”. This process would use up to 45 color plates to print one picture. His richly colored and beautifully designed holiday cards became extremely popular in America and are today highly collectible.
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