Sir Henry had the idea of Christmas Cards with his friend John Horsley, who was an artist. They designed the first card and sold them for 1 shilling each. The card had three panels. The outer two panels showed people caring for the poor and in the centre panel was a family having a large Christmas dinner. Some people didn't like the card because it showed a child being given a glass of wine! About 1000 were printed and sold. They are now very rare and cost thousands of Pounds or Dollars to buy now. The original cards were advertised with the slogan: "Just published, a Christmas Congratulations Card; or picture emblematical of old English festivity to perpetuate kind recollections between dear friends".
The first postal service that ordinary people could use was started in 1840 when the first 'Penny Post' public postal deliveries began (Sir Henry Cole helped to introduce the Penny Post). Before that, only very rich people could afford to send anything in the post. The new Post Office was able to offer a Penny stamp because new railways were being built. These could carry much more post than the horse and carriage that had been used before. Also, trains could go a lot faster. Cards became even more popular in the UK when they could be posted in an unsealed envelope for one halfpenny - half the price of an ordinary letter.As printing methods improved, Christmas cards became much more popular and were produced in large numbers from about 1860. In 1870 the cost of sending a post card, and also Christmas cards, dropped to half a penny. This meant even more people were able to send cards. The first cards usually had pictures of the Nativity scene on them. In late Victorian times, robins (a British bird) and snow-scenes became popular. In those times the postmen were nicknamed 'Robin Postmen' because of the red uniforms they wore. Snow-scenes were popular because they reminded people of the very bad winter that happened in the UK in 1836.
Christmas Cards appeared in the United States of America in the late 1840s, but were very expensive and most people couldn't afford them. It 1875, Louis Prang, a printer who was originally from Germany but who had also worked on early cards in the UK, started mass producing cards so more people could afford to buy them. Mr Prang's first cards featured flowers, plants, and children. In 1915, John C. Hall and two of his brothers created Hallmark Cards, who are still one of the biggest card makers today.
We have gone full circle as postal Christmas cards are not so popular nor is the mail service as efficient - or as inexpensive - as it once was. Since the advent of the computer and internet, commercially-produced online cards are an option - but many people simply send their own cards or messages by email. This has affected the sale of charity Christmas cards to a significant extent.