Sir Henry Cole (1808-1882)

Born in Bath, Sir Henry Cole worked under Sir Rowland Hill to introduce the universal Penny Postage and the first postage stamp, the Penny Black in 1840. He later played a key role in organising the Great Exhibition of 1851. He also commissioned the world’s first commercial Christmas card in 1843. Christmas cards were designed to encourage people to post more but at first they garnered little enthusiasm. People were concerned that the card’s central illustration focused on the merriment of the season, rather than more charitable endeavours such as clothing the poor and feeding the hungry.

By the 1880s, objections to joyful holiday greetings had vanished, and the custom of sending Christmas cards was well established in Britain.