In the Victorian era when a person paid a formal call on a friend, it was customary to leave a visiting card as a reminder of the visit. These cards were typically small, about 2 by 3 inches. In 1860, Charles Goodall & Son, a British publisher of visiting cards, began mass producing cards designed especially for visits at Christmas. These Christmas and New Year's visiting cards were the forerunners of greeting cards and were decorated with simple designs such as a twig of holly or flowers.
By 1895, most of the original Christmas card publishing firms went out of business due to the importing of German cards, which were less expensive. The following is a list, with examples, of some of the most popular early publishers of 19th century Christmas cards:
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