In the U.S. we sent 1.2 billion holiday cards every year, which is about four cards for everyone who lives here. Where did these things come from?
- It started in Victorian England
It came from a quaint custom of schoolboys practicing their handwriting and sending little notes home to their parents.
Not surprisingly a Victorian with an eagle-eye for a profit realized the market potential.
- The first commercial card was created in1845
An English gentleman got together with an artist buddy of his and created the first commercial card. The illustration contained people holding a glass of wine, and the concept of Christmas cheer was established.
- The first ever card reached a record-breaking price in 2001.
One of these first cards, which had a face value of one shilling, sold for $35,800 in 2001. There are no reports it got lost in the post.
- Production in the U.S.
Like so many other things, Boston was the home of the first printer of cards in the US. Five years after establishing the business in 1875 he was producing 5 million cards a year.
- The White House Card
President Eisenhower was the first president to send official White House cards. He sent the first ones in 1953 and the tradition has continued ever since.
- How did he have so many addresses?
A very special San Francisco resident sent out nearly 63,000 Christmas cards in 1975. Just think for a moment how many envelopes were licked and in ’75, perhaps stamps too. Hopefully, he signed every single one.
- Guess who buys Christmas Cards?
No surprises here, 85% of Christmas card are bought by women. Apparently, men are happy to sign them and be part of the sending ritual, but the buying falls on your shoulders ladies.
- eCards don’t come close
Last year there were half a million eCards sent. It is going to take a long time before eCards catch up with the volume of real cards. The United States Post Office is doing all they can to persuade us not to change the behavior pattern.
- The Christmas card market is bigger than all the others put together
Think of every other type of card you can imagine; birthday, wedding, births, deaths, marriages, mother’s day, father’s day, you get the idea… All those cards added together don’t equal the Christmas card market share which tops out at 61% of all cards produced in the USA.
The industry might be declining. Official figures put the number at a 5% decline year on year, but still, we spent $2,000,000,000 (that’s a lot of zeros there) on Christmas cards.
To put it into context, the entire Valentine’s Day spending, which includes many hundreds of thousands of roses, as well as cards galore, was estimated at $1 billion last year.
Looks like Christmas cards are here to stay!