The very first Christmas cards were designed by Englishman John Callcott Horsley in 1843 at the behest of his friend, Sir Henry Cole. The seasonal mailers depicted a family sitting together at a table, with two images of them doing good deeds on either side. Of the 1000 that were printed, only a dozen have survived to this day. We’ve come a long way since then, and while cards with bells, whistles, tinsel, audio, and lights certainly have their place, it’s also nice to look back at what came before.
In that spirit, here are 50 delightfully retro cards from the New York Public Library’s digital archives. Believe it or not, they have many, many more, which you should check out here. We promise it will make your season bright. — Mental Floss
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† Available from the LA Public Library