Wishing you a very EERIE Christmas! Creepy Victorian greetings cards include dead robins, Santa kidnapping a child and terrifying snowmen
- Series of nineteenth-century seasonal cards reveal twisted and darkly humorous side of Victorian Christmas
- Feature everything from a murderous snowman to dead birds, insects and Santas kidnapping little children
- One 1880s card features a morbid image of a dead Robin and reads ‘May yours be a joyful Christmas’
This series of creepy Victorian Christmas cards reveals that heart-warming images of a red-cheeked Santa Claus surrounded by plump turkeys, mulled wine and a brightly lit tree are a relatively new invention.
From a murderous snowman to dead birds, insects and Santas kidnapping little children, this series of nineteenth-century seasonal cards reveal the twisted and darkly humorous side of the Victorian Christmas.
While we have come to expect happy families and Christmas puddings on our Christmas cards today, the Victorians adored bizarre and often macabre oddities on their cards – which were anything but religious and joyful in tone.
From a murderous snowman to dead birds, insects and Santas kidnapping little children, this series of nineteenth-century seasonal cards reveal the twisted and darkly humorous side of the Victorian Christmas
An unwelcome Christmas greeting: In this odd image a young girl cowers helplessly from an approaching emu
Irony: Morbid cards such as this one featuring a dead robin suggest that the Victorians were not as straitlaced as we believe
One 1880s card features a morbid image of a dead Robin accompanied by the words ‘May yours be a joyful Christmas’ – whilst another wacky card shows a devil horned snowman ready to beat a Victorian gentleman to death.
Meanwhile a creepy card dating back to 1900 shows an evil Santa stealing a frightened child – whilst another festive card portrays a murderous fly on a child-killing spree.
Boy, three, is turned away from Santa’s grotto at garden…
Thrifty mum reveals how she’s bagged an entirely FREE…
‘It helps them to escape reality – even for a day’: Sick…
Share this article
In Britain, the custom of sending Christmas cards was started by Sir Henry Cole in 1843. A senior civil servant, Cole helped set-up the new ‘Public Record Office’ – the modern day Post Office.
In a bid to encourage more people to use the Public Record Office, Sir Henry and his friend artist John Horsley came up with the idea of Christmas cards. They designed the first seasonal card and sold them for 1 shilling each (equivalent to 5 pence today).
A European Christmas card from 1900 showing a Krampus, who according to folklore, would visit children during the Christmas period and punish those who had misbehaved. A Krampus is described as ‘half-goat, half-demon’
This Christmas card is meant to show a sweet scene buts looks decidedly creepy as Santa stares in through a window
By 1860, sending Christmas cards had become a popular tradition and cards were printed in large numbers in Britain. Furthermore in 1870, the cost of posting Christmas cards had dropped to half a penny – encouraging more members of Victorian society to send cards.
By the 1880s, this festive custom had spread to America and lithograph firm, Prang and Mayer were reportedly producing over five million cards per year for eager customers in Europe and America.
Whilst early British Christmas cards usually featured winter scenes and religious themes such as the Nativity, a significant number of later Victorian Christmas were morbid, eccentric and humorously cruel in tone.
A goat sticks his neck through a fence and tell a young boy it has come to greet him, in an odd Christmas card image from 1911. Right, An egg with chubby arms and legs but no head was used as a strange image for a Christmas card, circa 1900
Three creepy snowmen that wouldn’t look out of place in a horror film, but instead all once featured on a Christmas card
Another strange Christmas card from the London based company Raphael Tuck & Sons, showing two humans with chicken head sledging, circa 1880
Four screeching cats annoy a min in his bedroom window in this unusual image made for a Christmas card in 1880
Some historians have suggested that the portrayal of dead animals on nineteenth century Christmas cards were meant to serve as a reminder of the poor and hungry during the holiday season. Stories of poor children freezing to death were common during the winter in Victorian England.
However others have speculated that these creepy Christmas cards were simply beloved by the Victorians for their twisted, irreverent sense of humour.
At a time when religion and duty pervaded almost every aspect of nineteenth-century society, these weird Christmas cards may have provided some humorous respite.
Two robins lie flat on their back, possibly from the sherry, in a rather unusual Christmas card image from 1876
Four frogs have slipped on the ice in an image used for a Christmas card in Germany, circa 1880
A bizarre scene showing an epic battle between ants used for a Christmas card. The red ants are holding aloft a flag that says ‘The compliments of the season’
Two small children are pictured running away from a giant insect – this is not an image you would find on a modern card
Sir Henry Cole: Founder of the Post Office who dreamed up Christmas cards to boost business
Sir Henry Cole: Came up with the first ever Christmas card in 1843
More than 750 million Christmas cards will be sent this year, but when the first ever greeting cards were launched in London in 1843 the response was anything but enthusiastic.
In fact, of the 1,000 originally printed, only a handful sold, probably because they cost a hefty one shilling, and it was many years before the tradition took a foothold.
The cards were produced by Sir Henry Cole and published by Summerley’s Home Treasury Office, 12, Old Bond Street, London.
The hand-coloured cards were designed by a man called John C Horsley and of the 1,000 that were printed very few are known to remain in existence.
Anna Flood, archivist from the British Postal Museum and Archive, said: ‘Prior to this point, there was no concrete record of people sending actual Christmas greetings cards to each other, there was no record of a card which makes a specific reference to Christmas”‘
Sir Henry Cole also modernised the postal system, managed the construction of the Albert Hall, and was a founder of the Victoria and Albert museum.
Under the pseudonym Felix Summerly, he wrote children’s books as well as being an inventor and designer whose products included a teapot.
In his spare time, the life-long civil servant ran an art shop, and was devoted to his quest to ‘beautify life’.
Sir Henry commissioned this, the world’s first commercial Christmas card. Designed by John C Horsley and hand-coloured, only a few examples still survive today
Source: Read Full Article