The first Christmas card’s inscription read: "merry Christmas and a happy New Year to you." "Merry" was then a spiritual word meaning "blessed," as in "merry old England." Of the original one thousand cards printed for Henry Cole, twelve exist today in private collections.
Sir Henry Cole was a prominent innovator in the 1800s. He modernized the British postal system, managed construction of the Albert Hall, arranged for the Great Exhibition in 1851, and oversaw the inauguration of the Victoria and Albert Museum. Most of all, Cole sought to "beautify life," and in his spare time he ran an art shop on Bond Street, specializing in decorative objects for the home. In the summer of 1843, he commissioned Horsley to design an impressive card for that year’s Christmas.
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