An Overview of History and Importance of Greeting Cards

Did you know that with a population of only 36 million, as many as 40 million cards are bought in Canada every year? This just goes to show how popular greeting cards are in this country. The story is the same everywhere else, even when a deluge of tech devices may have disrupted our lives.

Contrary to what people may think, the charm of greeting cards will continue to exist even in an age of instant messages and emails. The first glimpse of a greeting card peeking amongst a bunch of bills in the letterbox can bring a smile on your face instantly. It brings with it a personal touch, one that can never be replicated through digital messaging. It tells you someone cares about you enough to take the time out to pick out a card for you, whatever the occasion may be; sometimes, even without an occasion.

Greeting cards are treasured memories; keepsakes that you can keep going back to time and again. You can keep them tucked away in your bedroom drawer to be looked at and read whenever you feel like reminiscing about the past. These are cherished moments that can brighten up even the gloomiest days. Greeting cards are there for every human emotion imaginable, whether you are feeling happy, sad, grateful, or in love. But do you know where and how this concept of greeting cards emerged?

Their history dates back to the Egyptian and Chinese civilizations. The ancient Chinese would exchange goodwill messages to celebrate their New Year, while Egyptians would use papyrus scrolls for sending greetings. They were followed by cards that were created in 1400 in Germany, according to research by historians. These were printed using woodcuts. This was a print-making technique using which artists carved designs onto wooden block surfaces. These were then used for sending greetings for the New Year.

Soon afterwards, handmade cards started being circulated across Europe. It was mainly the Valentine Day cards that were popular at this time; the oldest card is still in the British Museum. It had been made by a French noble in 1415.  Between the 14th and 17th centuries, art and literature witnessed a remarkable growth in Europe, thanks to the Renaissance. This automatically gave a boost to the production of greeting cards that soon became the most commonly-used medium for sharing emotions and expressions of celebration, goodwill, and love. Christmas cards and Valentine’s Day cards were mostly exchanged at this time.

Handmade cards were the most intricate; they were often made using quilling to give a three-dimensional look. The cards, however, were costly to make and took a lot of time. They were not really affordable or viable unless you were creative yourself. So, a lot of people were still not using greeting cards back then. But this soon changed in the 1800s. The postal service came about and this system made delivery of cards faster and simpler. Mail delivery services got a further impetus by mid-1800s when postage stamps were introduced.

Popularity of cards got an even bigger boost with color lithograph process during the 1870s. Finally, it was the historical Industrial Revolution that introduced the printing press and revolutionized card making. Printing became faster and cards could now be produced at far lower costs.

This brief history shows how the charm of greeting cards has grown over the years and why it continues to make us happy even today.