The Christmas Card Is in the Mail, Thanks to Britain's Sir Henry Cole

updated 12/08/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/08/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

In England, in the early 1800s, people had two good reasons not to feel guilty about failing to send Christmas cards: First, the Christmas card hadn't been invented; second, the era's rudimentary postal system couldn't handle a Yuletide flood. But in 1843 postal reformer Sir Henry Cole hit on the idea of Christmas cards as a way to promote improved mail service. Cole not only commissioned artist John Callcott Horsley to design cards, but actually mailed them—events that the world has come to regard with equal awe.

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