Christmas Past, we most often associate that phrase with Charles Dicken Christmas Carol. But what was Christmas like in the past? Well, I have an insight here with a look at Greetings cards from about 100 years ago. At this time the Christmas card was just a card, similar to the postcards we send today. No envelope, just a stamp and a short message written on the reverse along with the recipient’s address. I believe that at the time postage was cheaper for a plain card than it was for something in an envelope which would explain the single card appearance.

15 Cards From Christmas Past

1.Children with toys.

Just look at the toys these children are enjoying. At the time this card was published these toys would have been the very latest thing. A car would have been a luxury for the rich so a toy car would have been top of every boy’s list. Is that a rifle I see? I doubt that would be allowed these days. Look at the number of books about as well, these days there would be electronic gadgets instead. . I bet those are real candles on the tree – what a fire hazard.


Christmas Past
2. Dutch Boy and Girl with Mistletoe

Probably from circa 1920 when the Dutch boy and girl were a popular image. The colours are right for the art deco era as well. This sweet couple are holding hands beneath the mistletoe.

Dutch Boy and Girl

3. Holly Berries and Snow

This is the sort of image we could still see on a Christmas card these days.  WIth a rural church scene, all nestling under a blanket of snow. There is a large branch of holly leaves and berries across the top. It just goes to show how little has changed from Christmas Past.

Holly Berry Card

4. Christmas Horse Shoes

This card is dated 1908. “A bright and happy Xmas to you. Pile on more logs, the frost bites chill. Let is be bitter if it will. We’ll keep our Xmas merry still.”

This one definitely seems a bit dated and has not stood the test of time well.

Christmas Horse shoes

5. Louis Wayne Christmas Cats

I’m a big Louis Wayne fan so couldn’t resist this one. Just look at these kitties at the play. Each face has its own expression. There’s a cute blonde to the left with her fan and a big proud Tom with a paw on twin white kittens. What fun they are all having.

At the Play
6. Christmas  Poem

This atmospheric card reads ” To wish you a Happy Christmas. The trees are bare, the skies are grey, But ‘neath the Seasons sunny charm My hear for you this Christmas Day Brims o’er with hopes and wishes warm”

Christmas Poem
7. A Jolly Jape

A card with a bit of a naughty side to it. The young lad has placed a sprig of holly for the fat old gent to sit on. It reads ” Wishing you a J’holly Xmas – and hoping you’ll rise to the occasion well”.  It is signed by the artist Donald Mc Gill who was more famous for his range of saucy seaside cards.

Donald Mc Gill
8. Robins in the snow

Ive a soft spot for robins, just look at this family in the snow with the one flying in. It has a worm in its mouth to feed the whole family at Christmas. Another card whic would not be out of place nowadays. According to the postmark this was sent in 1907.

Robins in the snow
9. Christmas Babies

Im curious about this card. Its a tradition that has clearly stayed in Christmas past, picking babies from a tree.  The lady in pesant clothing has baskets full of little pink babies and clearly is enjoying picking them . Can anyone enlighten me as to the story behind this? I would love to know.

Christmas Babies
10. Painted cats

Heres a cat family all pretending to act like humans. Walking on their hind legs and carying the kitten in Mummy’s arms. The background is a silver grey which is meant to look like snow. The card dates to 1909.

Painted cats
11. Violets and Shamrocks

I think there is a hidden meaning in this card as violets and shamrocks would be unusual at Christmas. However, the language of flowers was still very popular at the time and the receiver would have understood the message of Modesty ( Violets ) and Lightheartedness ( Shamrocks).

Violets and shamrocks

12. Glossy Christmas Card

This card has a glossy finish to it. There is a variety of different images which have been somewhat arbitrarily placed on the card to create the design. The verse reads ” With the best of Christmas Greetings. Loving greetings now are spoken, And this card my wish shall bear, Be thy joy and peace unbroken, Be thy future blest and fair”.

Glossy Christmas Card

13. Glamorous Lady Card

The design of this card really is not Christmasy at all with a picture of a lady in a powdered wig and a large blue hat. It reads ” The old old wish, but non the less Sincere, A happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year”.

Glamorous lady card


14. Winter Wonderland

A card combining an almost photographic winter wonderland snow scene with stylised mistletoe around the frame. You can see the art nouveau influences in this one. “The old Xmas wish. The snow has come True Winters here. So let me wish you all good cheer.

Winter Wonderland

15.  Actress

I suspect the lady in this card is a famous actress of the time and its a bit of a fan card as well as a Christmas Greeting. The date is 1920  and I notice the deco influences in the Chinese lanterns.



Did you know that Christmas Cards were first sent during the 1840s? This was shortly after the postal system had been set up so you were definitely a trendsetter if you sent cards back then.  The Victorians had highly intricate and decorative cards which can be quite expensive these days. The ones here are all from circa 1900 to circa 1920. You can pick them up with prices starting from pound or two each although many sought after ones will go much higher.  They can make a relatively cheap collection and each is packed with the detail we can learn about Christmas Past.

Do you have an old Christmas cards? I would love to hear about your collection too. Pop a comment in the box and let me know about them. I also have a Christmas Gift Guide for antique lovers.

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