First Christmas Card by Sir Henry Cole and John Horsley
Reputedly the first Christmas card, this was designed by Horsley in 1843, and a coloured version sent out by Sir Henry Cole in 1846.
Commissioned by Sir Henry Cole and illustrated by John Callcott Horsley in London on 1 May 1843. The central picture shows three generations of a family raising a toast to the card's recipient: on either side are charity scenes including food and clothing being given to the poor. Allegedly the image of the family drinking wine together proved controversial, but the idea was shrewd: Cole had helped introduce the Penny Post three years earlier. Two batches totaling 2, 050 cards were printed and sold that year for a shilling each, and of those just a dozen are known to have survived.
We are offering reproduction prints of the original design. In 2001 an original version sold for a record 22, 500 pounds sterling at auction in Devizes, Wiltshire, England. After attracting bids from collectors in Britain and America, it eventually sold for the record-breaking price.
The auctioned card was especially sought after because it was sent by Sir Henry to his grandmother and aunt, and signed by the great Victorian.
John Callcott Horsley was an English painter, illustrator, and designer. Born in London on 29 January 1817, he was the grand-nephew of the English landscape painter Sir Augustus Callcott. His sister, Mary Elizabeth Horsley, was the wife of the famous British engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel.
Horsley studied painting at the Royal Academy where he met the painter Thomas Webster. His paintings were largely of historical subjects set in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, influenced by the Dutch masters Pieter de Hooch and Vermeer. From 1875 to 1897, Horsley was a rector and treasurer of the Royal Academy. Because he was strictly against nude models he earned the nickname "Clothes-Horsley".
Cole is credited with devising the concept of sending greeting cards at Christmas time
© Mary Evans Picture Library
Thames Tunnel entrance
A view of the entrance to the Wapping-Rotherhithe tunnel under the Thames, the world's first underwater tunnel, completed by Marc Brunel in 1843. The tunnel was used by pedestrians from 1843 to 1865, before being converted for railway use
© Mary Evans Picture Library
1843, Arch Way, Britain, Brunels, Historical, History, Lon, Mighty, Rotherhithe, Thames, Transport, Tunnel, Tunnels, Westn
Princess Alice with her children
Princess Alice, Grand Duchess of Hesse (1843-1878) with her children in 1877: (l to r) Ella, Alix, Victoria, Ernst Ludwig and Irene, with the youngest, May sitting on Alice's lap. Alice's family succumbed to diptheria in November 1878. The youngest child, May, died on 16th November 1878 and Alice, who had spent weeks nursing her children before coming down with diptheria herself. She died on 14th December at the age of just 35 on the 17th anniversary of her father, Prince Albert's death
© Charlotte Zeepvat/ILN/Mary Evans Picture Library