Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Oldest Mass-Produced Christmas Card

Oldest Mass-Produced Christmas Card
Part of Bridwell Library Collection

John Calcott Horsley. [Christmas Card]. "A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to You." 82 x 130 mm. [London: J. C. Horsley. 1843]

"What is believed to be one of the first mass-produced Christmas cards -- dating back more than 160 years -- can be found among the extensive special collections of Bridwell Library at Southern Methodist University's Perkins School of Theology.

The lithographed card caused a controversy in some quarters of Victorian English society when it was published in 1843 because it prominently features a child taking a sip from a glass of wine.

Approximately 1,000 copies of the card were printed but only 10 have survived to modern times. Bridwell Library acquired its copy in 1982. The card was designed for Henry Cole by his friend, the English painter John Calcott Horsley (1808-1882). Cole wanted a ready-to-mail greeting card because he was too busy to engage in the traditional English custom of writing notes with Christmas and New Year's greetings to friends and family.

The card pre-dated color printing so it was hand-colored. The card is divided into three panels with the center panel depicting a family drinking wine at a celebration and the flanking panels illustrating charitable acts of feeding and clothing the poor. The greeting reads: "A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to You."

Cole, who also wrote and published Christmas books, printed more cards than he needed so he sold the extra cards for one shilling each. Bridwell Library's card was signed by Cole and addressed to the engraver of the card, John Thompson (1785-1866).

Widespread commercial printing of Christmas cards began in the 1860s, when a new process of color printing lowered the manufacturing cost and the price. Consequently, the custom of sending printed Christmas greetings spread throughout England. The first American Christmas card dates from about 1850 and resembles Horsley's design".

Source: Southern Methodist University

Monday, 15 December 2008

Christmas Card Recycling Scheme

Building on the success of recycling 73.6 million cards in 2008, the Woodland Trust are once again running their Christmas Card recycling scheme.

The British public’s efforts last year helped collect 73.6 million cards, bringing the Christmas Card Recycling Scheme’s 12 year total to 600 million cards recycled. This has enabled the Woodland Trust to plant 141,000 trees, save 12,000 tonnes of paper from going to landfill, and stop 16,000 tonnes of CO2 from going into the atmosphere – the equivalent of taking more than 5,0002, cars off the road for a year.

The Woodland Trust was established in 1972 and now owns more than 1,000 woods throughout the UK, which are open free for all to enjoy.

What is the aim of the scheme?

To raise money for the Trust to plant trees throughout the UK. If everyone recycles just one Christmas card at WHSmith, Tesco, TK Maxx and Marks & Spencer stores throughout January, the Woodland Trust will be able to plant 15,000 trees to create UK woodland. Planting 15,000 trees would be enough to create a wood the size of 30 football pitches.
To raise the profile of, and highlight the environmental benefits of, recycling. Recycling helps to tackle climate change. Waste sent to landfill can create methane – a powerful greenhouse gas. If we all recycle just one card this Christmas this would save 1,570 tonnes of CO2 equivalent greenhouse gases – the same as taking 500 cars off the road for a year.

To raise the profile of the Woodland Trust and the UK’s need for more trees. The UK needs many more trees. Trees are the lungs of the planet by turning CO2 into oxygen, yet the UK is one of the least wooded countries in Europe with just 12% woodland cover compared to the European average of 44%. Just 4% of this is wildlife rich broadleaf woodland which the Woodland Trust aims to double.


WHSmith, Tesco, TK Maxx and Marks & Spencer stores throughout January.

The Woodland Trust - is the UK’s leading woodland conservation charity. It has 300,000 members and supporters.
The Trust has four key aims:

i) No further loss of ancient woodland
ii) Restoring and improving the biodiversity of woods

iii) Increasing new native woodland

iv) Increasing people’s understanding and enjoyment of woodland.

Established in 1972, the Woodland Trust now has over 1,000 sites in its care covering approximately 20,000 hectares (50,000 acres). Access to its sites is free.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Christmas is the pathway to hell cards - Availability: Nil

Anjem Choudary, muslim lawyer, shares humanist christmas thoughts, cheerily extends goodwill to all mankind, gently reminds of Hellfire

'In the world today many Muslims, especially those residing in Western countries, are exposed to the evil celebration Christmas,'

'Many take part in the festival celebrations by having Christmas turkey dinners.

'Decorating the house, purchasing Christmas trees or having Christmas turkey meals are completely prohibited by Allah

'How can a Muslim possibly approve or participate in such a practice that bases itself on the notion Allah has an offspring?

'The very concept of Christmas contradicts and conflicts with the foundation of Islam.

'Every Muslim has a responsibility to protect his family from the misguidance of Christmas, because its observance will lead to hellfire.

'Protect your Paradise from being taken away - protect yourself and your family from Christmas.

Source: Mail Online

Cool Cards comment:
Jesus H. Christ, these zany statements have done nothing to help the greeting card industry at all. There's not one snappy one-liner in there that we could make use of in our forthcoming "happy non-muslim christmas" card range. We feel he's let us down on this occasion.

From our publishers:
L.J.K. Setright Productions:
No way!

Arthouse blooms:
We're sad end.

Happy as Larry Cliffhangers:
Whatever floats/sinks your boat...

R.D. Evolutions:

P.C. Publications (New York):
Get the fuck outa here.

D.S. Design (Nashville):
He's got a chocolate santa up his arse hasn't he?

Evil Mad Scientist Christmas Cards

Homemade Christmas cards: The evil mad scientist laboratory way...

"Make your own edge-lit holiday cards using LEDs, plastic, paper, electrical tape, batteries, a pen, scissors, and a hobby knife.

For our LED setup, we're using a classic "LED Throwie" arrangement-- an ultrabright LED is attached directly to the leads of a CR2032 lithium coin cell. When the bright LED is pointed at the edge of the plastic, it travels through cleanly but lights up the areas that we've scratched.

So we have the light going into the edge of the plastic. Next we need to (1) hold the LED there and (2) restrict light from going in directions that we don't want. We can accomplish both of these goals by using black electrical tape to hold the LED in place. We start by putting down a piece of tape, sticky side up, and sticking the plastic plate and the LED to it. Next we add a matching piece of tape on top, forming a tight seal around the LED but keeping it pointing into the plastic.

If you insert a piece of black paper behind the clear plastic, you might find that it improves the contrast".

Source: Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories

Friday, 5 December 2008

Fair Trade Charity Christmas Cards

Sreepur Village Fair Trade Handmade Charity Christmas Cards

If you pride yourself on buying Christmas cards that donate the greatest possible sums to charity, here's your chance to go one step further. The organisers of a group that helps orphans and destitute woman in Bangladesh are now selling a range of Christmas cards in which the maximum possible amount goes to the charity concerned - because the recipients themselves make the cards.

Critics have long been concerned about charity cards from which only a few pennies reach the charity. The Charities Advisory Trust said last week more than 80% of charity cards sold on the high street give less than a tenth of the price to charity. Almost half of all cards sold donate less than 5%. Some charity cards now selling in Harrods give just 3.9% of the sticker price.

The trust advises consumers to seek out charities' own cards, which donate at least 40% of the sale price, but now you can go as close to the full 100% as possible.

The Sreepur Village outreach project is offering handmade cards produced in and around their village, 40km north of Bangladesh's capital, Dhaka. The women make the cards at home using paper made from locally grown jute. They are paid a fair wage, and it allows them to earn an income without having to leave their young children.

The paper is very high quality and the cards are decorated with wheat straw. Last year the project was awarded fair-trade status. Once made, the cards are shipped to the UK free of charge by British Airways, whose staff have supported the charity since it was set up 20 years ago by Pat Kerr, one of its flight attendants.

At £13.50 for 16 cards delivered to a UK address, they are not the cheapest on the market, but how many other cards are handmade by the people they aim to help?

To buy them you have to use the charity's website, sreepurcards.org. Payments are simple and quick via PayPal - yes we've tried it - and no account is required. The charity promises the cards will be sent on the same day the order is placed.

Former BA pilot and the man who sends out the cards, Rob Jenkinson says the project changes lives. "There are 500 abandoned children and 100 destitute women supported by the project. The women of this community have tough lives, bringing up families on less than £5 per week. Job opportunities are few, so the income they generate by making the cards saves lives. If they want to work in the garment factories they face a walk of several miles and an eight-hour shift, six days a week - all for about £15 a month."

If you want to support a different charity, the Charities Advisory Trust suggests you avoid most of the cards in big high street stores.

Last week it gave its annual Scrooge of the Year award to Harrods, and its Georgy Porgy award for greed went to Cards Galore. Of its range of 171 charity cards, 147 gave less than 10% to charity.

The trust says all cards are required to say on the back what proportion of the card's price goes to charity. Within the same store, the amounts can vary from card to card. It found that in John Lewis, most of its charity cards give a creditable 25%, but for others on the same shelf it was closer to 10%. At House of Fraser the cards donate between 7% and 10%.

Source: Guardian

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Order of St. Nick Finds Niche With "Atheist Christmas Cards"

Greeting Card Company Order of St. Nick Finds Niche With "Atheist Christmas Cards"

IOWA CITY, IA, Dec 01, 2008 (MARKET WIRE via COMTEX) -- Do atheists celebrate Christmas? Famous atheists such as Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris do, and humorous greeting card publisher Order of St. Nick is betting that millions more do as well. The company has just expanded its selection of "atheist Christmas cards," available for sale online at :


The cards feature a mix of standard atheist iconography such as Charles Darwin and evolutionary monkeys, along with tongue-in-cheek sayings such as "Evolve Your Beliefs." Another card, featuring a red-nosed reindeer, reads, "The red nose isn't weird... It's an evolutionary advantage."

"Nearly 15% of Americans identify themselves as 'non-religious,' but surveys have consistently shown that 95% of Americans celebrate Christmas," says Andrew Shaffer, Order of St. Nick's owner and creative director. "That's nearly 30 million atheists, agnostics, secularists, skeptics, and humanists who are being overlooked by mainstream card companies at this time of the year.

"Christmas is a federal holiday in the United States. Every year it grows increasingly secularized, for better or for worse," says Shaffer. "Rather than feeling like outcasts around the holiday season, it's clear that atheists are already joining in on the celebration. Why not openly embrace them in the spirit of the season?"

Marketing industry maven Brandweek Magazine agrees. "In these new times, everyone should be accommodated in their beliefs and traditions, so there might well be a place for the Order of St. Nick cards," they stated in a December 2007 review of the greeting cards on their online Short Takes column.

"We've tried to keep the cards light-hearted and fun," says Shaffer. "They're not for everyone, but so far the response has been very positive." Scientist PZ Myers has praised the cards on his popular blog, Pharyngula, and two Order of St. Nick designs are featured in the December issue of the U.K.'s STUFF magazine.

Eight different designs in all are available for sale online at www.AtheistHolidayCards.com. Consumers can buy the cards individually for $3.99 or in boxed sets of 10 for $18.99. International shipping options are available; U.K. customers can also order the cards via www.CoolCards.co.uk.

About Order of St. Nick
Order of St. Nick is a greeting card publisher specializing in funny Christmas cards ( www.orderofstnick.com). Online orders are fulfilled by Cafepress.com. Order of St. Nick is a privately-owned small business headquartered in Iowa City, Iowa.

Media Contact:
Andrew Shaffer
Order of St. Nick
Email Contact
SOURCE: Marketwatch

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Christmas posting dates for the UK

Royal Mail: Last recommended Christmas posting dates for the UK

Saturday 20th December - First Class
Thursday 18th December - Second Class

Royal Mail Christmas products & services:

"Enjoy your Christmas with Royal Mail’s one-stop guide to all things festive!

From last posting dates to yuletide deliveries, you’ll find all your posting needs here with our online Christmas toolkit.

To make things a little easier for you this Christmas, we’re extending our enquiry office opening hours between the 15th December until Christmas*. To make sure that you receive all your packages we’ve introduced new evening deliveries on Monday 22nd and Tuesday 23rd December. We’ve also introduced Sunday Redeliveries on Sunday 21st December"

Source: Royal Mail

100th blog = 10% OFF All Cool Cards

To celebrate this, our 100th blog post and in line with helping to 'save the country from financial ruin' we're doing our bit by offering a cheery seasonal 10% discount on all our greeting cards until the end of the year..!

The Art of Greeting Cards
Cool Cards

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Royal Mail Christmas Stamps 2008

Royal Mail Christmas Stamps 2008

A secular issue, for the most part, from Royal Mail featuring a Pantomime theme.

The Pantomimes set:

2nd class and 2nd class Large
- The Ugly Sisters from Cinderella

1st class and 1st class Large
- The Genie from Aladdin

50p - Captain Hook from Peter Pan

81p - The Wicked Queen from Snow White.

Reprinted from the Royal Mail 2007 Christmas issue:

Madonna - 1st Class
The Madonna of Humility by
Lippo di Dalmasio

Madonna - 2nd Class
Madonna and Child by William Dyce

Technical details:
Pantomime: Designed by Steve Haskins and the team at So Design Consultants, Bristol, using photographs by Peter Thorpe. Printed in gravure by De La Rue on self-adhesive paper in sheets of 50.
Madonna: Formatting and typography are by Peter Willberg.
These stamps are also printed by De la Rue in gravure. The small stamps are definitive size - 20 x 24mm - and the Large Letter stamps 30 x 24mm. See note below pictures.
The Miniature Sheet is conventionally gummed. It contains the six stamps, arranged as a block of 4 and a pair, within an illustrated border.
As the stamps are definitive-sized, the Christmas stamp booklets will be the same size as definitive books of 12. There will be two different 1st class and two different 2nd class books of 12.

Royal Mail

Monday, 3 November 2008

Cool Cards featured in Stuff Magazine

The December edition of Stuff magazine feature several of our Christmas cards..!

The cards featured include:

"Darwin Atheist" from our Atheist and Secular Christmas cards.

"Xmas family" from our Uncooked Christmas cards

"The Evolution of Tradition" from our Atheist and Secular Christmas cards.

View all our Christmas cards at Cool Cards

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Greetings from vulgar Britain

"Greetings from vulgar Britain: Offensive and obscene cards shame our country"
Shouts the Daily Mail headline..!

"When ALLISON PEARSON went to buy a birthday card for her mum, she was horrified by what she found - cards so offensive and obscene she felt ashamed of her country. And the sorry truth is, most are bought by women.

Female Traffic Warden: 'Anything you say will be taken down!' Male motorist: 'Knickers!' Yes, I know it's a gag so ancient it makes Bob Monkhouse look cutting edge. But sometimes, the old ones are the best, aren't they? Certainly when it comes to greetings card jokes.

The saucy card has long enjoyed an affectionate place in the British imagination - and rightly so.

For a people who were keen on sex, but just weren't very good at talking about it, they offered a welcome outlet for a snigger and a giggle.

Cartoons of hen-pecked husbands . . . doctors and nurses with wandering stethoscopes . . . waiters in trousers so tight you could see their religion . . . barmaids with a cleavage that Evel Knievel would have struggled to jump across on his motorbike. . . they've all brought a cheeky smile to the face of many a birthday recipient

Captions like 'I've got to get Mrs Gimlet to Oldham and then I'm going to Bangor as fast as I can' only added to the fun.

Embarrassment was the repressed Englishman's strongest emotion. Innuendo made a virtue of that fact. Double meanings gave you a good laugh without being too aggressively crude.

Innuendo also made Brits the world champs at wordplay. Greetings cards with saucy double entendres sold in their millions.

It was an essentially innocent approach epitomised by the late, great Donald McGill's incomparable illustrations of wobbling female flesh and pink- cheeked peeping Toms that so captivated generations of seaside holidaymakers.

Cards like his were a naughty-but-nice part of British humour. In my naivety, I thought that was still the case.

Then, the other day, I popped into my local branch of Scribblers with the kids to buy my mum a birthday card. Naturally, I assumed that in a greetings card chain with branches all over Britain's High Streets, the merchandise would be suitable for family viewing. Big mistake.

'What does OFF YOUR T*** mean, Mum?' bellowed the eight-year-old, holding up one card. I grabbed it off him and was putting it back when I did a double-take. The other cards in the rack made that first one look as pure as a snowy Nativity scene.

'Happy birthday to the office slut' ran the caption over a picture of a girl sitting on a desk in just a bra and skirt.

A photo from the Fifties of an elegant, Princess Margaret type bore the charming greeting: 'FYI: You're a cheap good for nothing rancid old slag.' So Dorothy Parker can rest on her witty laurels. Not much of a double meaning there, eh"

Story continues...

Cool Cards Redesign - Launch!

We could wax lyrical about our fantastic new look.
We could rave about our Free Greeting Card Personalisation service.
We could go on and on and on...
We could...
But we think a picture can be a thousand words.
We've got the pictures...

Cool Cards

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Visiting Cards

A distant relative of greeting cards... 19th Century middle class Visiting cards or Calling cards.

"To the unrefined and underbred, the visiting card is but a trifling bit of paper; but to the cultured disciple of social law, it conveys a subtle and unmistakable intelligence. Its texture, style of engraving, and even the hour of its leaving combine to place the stranger, whose name it bears, in a pleasant or a disagreeable attitude..."

"In the 19th and early 20th century, social interaction was a richly cultivated, well-mannered affair. The tool that facilitated these interactions was the calling card. Calling cards streamlined introductions and helped remind people of new acquaintances and needed visits. The calling card also served as a way to brand your social identity. The way your card looked and felt or the way you handed it to someone communicated your standing and relationship with the receiver. While the calling card has gone the way of top hats and knickers, they’re starting to make a comeback. What follows is a brief history of the calling card and how men today can resurrect this tradition to create some stylish panache in their social interactions."

"During the 1800’s and early 1900’s the practice of “calling” upon or visiting one’s relatives, friends, and acquaintances was a middle and upper class social ritual governed by countless rules and traditions. Central to visiting etiquette was the use of the calling card. Every gentleman kept a ready supply of calling cards with him to distribute upon his visits. When calling upon a friend, a gentleman gave his card to the servant answering the door. The servant would be holding a silver tray and the card would be placed upon it. If the person the gentleman was calling upon was home, the servant would take the card to them and they would come meet the gentleman. If the person being called upon was not home, the servant would leave the card for when they returned.

Generally upon a gentleman’s initial visit to a home, he would simply leave a card and then depart. If the new acquaintance wished to formally visit with him, he or she would send a card in return. If no card was sent, or the return card was sent in an envelope, this signaled that the new acquaintance did not wish for a personal visit to occur. This signal (the card in an envelope) could indeed be sent after any visit in which the visited party no longer wished to be called upon by this particular person. It was basically the well-mannered brush off. A calling card was also used when a gentleman was desirous to see someone at a hotel or parlor. He would send up his card while he waited in the reception area or office for his acquaintance or business associate to come and greet him.

A man’s calling card was simple and plain in design. About the size of a playing card (they were toted about in a carrying case tucked in one’s breast pocket), they bore a man’s name, and later on, his address as well. The name was written in the center, sometimes with a middle initial and sometimes not. A young man did not preface his name with “Mr.” A military officer included his rank and branch of service. A physician could include his professional title, as in “Dr. Robert Smith,” or “Robert Smith M.D.” But honorary titles such as Prof., Hon., and Esq. were not acceptable. The card sometimes also included the name of the gentleman’s club or fraternal organization a man belonged to."

Via: Wiki

Via: The Art of Manliness

Via: The Gentleman's Page

Monday, 25 August 2008

Support Hallmark against AFA Bigotry

The loony religious right are at it again... This time it's partnership cards and this time it's personal. Personal relationships.

The America Family Association (AFA), founded by Donald E. Wildmon, seem hell bent on boycotting any and all businesses which demonstrate sensitivity or accommodation toward same-sex relationships.
The AFA's latest "action alert" targets Hallmark and their range of same-sex wedding cards.

According to the AFA, "Hallmark pushes same-sex marriage" and requests that you "Ask them to stop promoting a lifestyle that is not only unhealthy, but is also illegal in 48 states."

It gets better...
"We've all given or received Hallmark Cards – remember their slogan – "when you care enough to send the very best." But promoting same-sex marriage for profit is not the very best for families or our nation. Hallmark is a private company obviously driven by greed. Let them know you do not appreciate Hallmark promoting a lifestyle which is illegal in 48 states. American Greeting Cards, Hallmark's competitor, does not offer same-sex marriage cards."

Now we don't much care whether Hallmark sell same-sex greeting cards or not. But what we're not indifferent to is the bigoted interference from a right-wing religious group attempting to force its values on others.

The AFA request that you email Donald J. Hall, Chairman of Hallmark Cards, and tell him "to stop promoting a lifestyle that is not only unhealthy, but is also illegal in 48 states". May we suggest that you use the AFA's online form and tell Donald J. Hall what you think of the AFA and their attempts to influence the lawful activity of their business?

These are the wedding card images from Hallmark which "Push same-sex marriage". What do you think?

Read: AFA Action Alert
Cool Cards: Gay Cards

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Greeting Cards for Creative Problem Solving

Think greeting cards, think creatively! That seems to be the message from Arthur B. Van Gundy in his book: Techniques of Structured Problem Solving. A set book used in an Open University, Creativity, Innovation and Change course, it describes a method of creative problem solving using greeting cards...

Prior to introducing a group to a problem the Greeting card method invites the group to create their own stimulating problem solving environment. A sense of comradeship is thus introduced and a feeling of ownership and involvement in the problem solving is experienced. This technique was created by James Pickens in 1981 and described by Arthur Van Gundy in the first edition of his book, Techniques of Structured Problem Solving.

Developing the environment

1. The supervisor encourages the participants to produce some motivational objects that will be of use in problem solving.
2. Split the main group into sub-groups of 4-5 individuals equipped with paste, scissors, magazines, illustrated catalogues, thick A3 or A4 paper, and felt-tipped pens.
3. Members of the sub-group browse their catalogues and magazines, cutting out at least 10 pictures of interest and relevance.
4. Together or individually the sub-group member create several greetings cards (or ‘stimulus cards’) sticking pictures, collage-style on A3 or A4 sheets that are folded thus that they function as greetings cards. They then add their own ‘greetings-card’ style message.
5. Each sub-group displays their greeting cards to other sub-groups.

Using it in problem-solving

1. A problem is put on view and deliberated by the sub-group members.
2. Participants use the images on their cards to generate ideas to decipher the problem
3. Time permitting, each sub-group passes its cards to the next sub-group and repeats step 2. This can be done several times if necessary.
4. All the ideas are gathered and appraised in any appropriate way.
5. It is essential participants are not aware the nature of the problem prior to the problem solving session. If participants feel uneasy about the ‘childish’ activity of making greetings cards, portray it as ‘assembling stimulus objects’."

Source: Mycoted

If you've used this technique, let us know how it went..!

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Smilers - Personalised Postage Stamps

Smilers - Your image next to a Stamp!

A delightful idea from Royal Mail - personalised postage stamps!

Smilers Customised Stamps allow you to add a personal touch to your mail by combining Royal Mail stamps with a photograph of your choice - the perfect complement to invitations, birthday greetings and letters.

Pick your favourite photo and turn it into a Smilers® stamp. Choose from one of 16 stamp designs and give your mail that personal touch.

Source: Royal Mail Smilers

Monday, 4 August 2008

Get Well Cards - Hazard Alert !

'Ban' on greeting cards at Frenchay Hospital:

"Nurses have told elderly patients not to put up 'get well soon' cards on a ward at Frenchay Hospital in Bristol, UK.

John Nickolls sent his aunt Edna a card to cheer her up after she fell at her home.

But when he visited her on ward 107 she told him she had sent the card home because she was forbidden from putting it up beside her bed.

Mr Nickolls, who lives in Brislington, said during a previous visit he had been told he could not take flowers on to the ward.
A spokesman for the hospital said there was no blanket ban on cards or flowers, but flowers were discouraged because they could clutter lockers and hamper cleaning. They are banned in intensive care and wards where there is electrical equipment at patients' bedsides.
He said senior nurses would ask for cards to be moved if they were taking up too much space.

Mr Nickolls, 73, noticed there were no cards on the ward during his visit, which “stunned him”. He said: “We wanted to cheer her up and there aren't many things you can give to someone who is ill.“I thought it was taking away something very important from someone who wasn't very well.

“If I was on a ward, I'd like to receive cards.

“Frenchay is a wonderful hospital but it seems a shame people can't receive cards or flowers.

“They could maybe put the cards and flowers in an area away from the beds.”

Mr Nickolls, a retired fundraiser, said when his aunt was first in hospital he took some flowers in but a senior nurse stopped him and explained plants were banned “for health and danger reasons”.

He said: “We had never heard of this before and can only assume it is due to any bugs in the flowers or vases being knocked over.

“We asked if they could be left in a dayroom or nurses' quarters but this was also rejected, and they wouldn't dispose of them so the alternative was to bin them or bring them home.” "

Source: This is Bristol

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Greeting Card Writers Lack Empathy, Imagination

Sad and lonely Hallmark writers...

Aspiring greeting card writers be warned. It's not necessarily the life of wild women, fast cars and celebrity lifestyle you might have imagined. Oh no. Most likely it could lead to a sad and lonely existence with neither friends nor family. And god help you if you're an Atheist greeting card writer. The chances of happiness? Slim to none.
Needless to say, the dangers of seeking solace in hard drugs and alcohol become all too apparent. This is a high risk occupation and not one to be taken lightly. When the deadline approaches for that Anniversary verse and the clock ticks down can you fake it? Well? Have you got what it takes?

Christian mentalist Tim Challies appears to suggest that greeting card writers lack empathy, creativity and imagination in his blog Challies.com
Sadly, he goes on to state that they "...return alone to an empty home and a life lived alone".
"Have you ever stopped to consider what it must be like to work for Hallmark or another of the companies that create greeting cards? Imagine spending your whole day attempting to come up with wonderful statements of deep feeling—love, remorse, sympathy—yet without feeling any of the associated emotions. Imagine having to write words that express sympathy, yet not feeling any sympathy yourself. Or imagine having to write words that can express the deep, passionate love a man has for his wife as they celebrate fifty years of marriage, but without having ever experienced that sort of love yourself. It must be very odd to spend the whole day writing words of love and passion from a husband to a wife but then return alone to an empty home and a life lived alone."

I wonder why Tim chose greeting card writers (and Hallmark writers especially) as opposed to scriptwriters, authors, poets, songwriters or indeed any endeavour which benefits from creativity, imagination, free-thinking and perhaps most importantly, empathy? I wonder if Tim when he reads a book or watches a film constantly asks himself "Yes, but has the author personally experienced all these things?" Does Tim question the authenticity, let alone accuracy or truth, of all he experiences? Critical and historical review of, say, the Bible, reveals much of it to be wildly inaccurate, mis-translated and apocryphal. Yet here, Tim, as a rational human being, is more than able to suspend his disbelief as regards this Murder Mystery! How strange...

Lay off the creative free-thinkers Tim and look elsewhere for your analogies.

Source: Challies.com

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Father's Day Exposé

Are Dads Portrayed Fairly in the Media and Greeting Cards?
Joeprah on Father's Day Cards...

"Happy Father's Day You Lazy Alcoholic

Is this what society is saying to dads across America? The answer seems to be a resounding yes. If you have been shopping for a Father’s Day card for your husband/father/father-in-law you may have had to sift through the less than flattering clichés cards that portray dads in a none too favorable light. Moms have to deal with cliché cards too, but theirs aren’t based on them being horrible people. According to the cards, moms cook, clean, have rollers in their hair, juggle many things at once, and eat chocolate. Dads on the other hand are very different. According to the greeting cards I surveyed this year, dads are poor caregivers, drink in excess, constantly golf and or fish, pass gas constantly, grill food 24/7, seldom leave the cozy confines of their couch except to spend hours in the bathroom, and if they ever get lost on the way to the bathroom they never ever ask for directions..."

Source: Fatherhood Examiner
Source: My Life As A Stay At Home Dad

Saturday, 14 June 2008

Why does the UK have the WORST greeting cards??

Greeting cards: Cultural differences... UK - USA

Delightful banter from some of our cousins...

"The cards here are shockingly horrible, they either have a joke about farting, football or drinking on them or they have freaking teddy bears!
Now I know why I try to stock up when I go to the states!!!"

"I LOVE greeting cards here. The funny ones are hysterical. My whole family looks forward to the cards I send for birthdays and stuff. We have a really mean/inappropriate sense of humor, so I guess they just push the boundary a bit more than Shoebox cards."

"it seems to be impossible to just buy a cheap and cheerful card. I just can't bring myself to spend more than a couple pounds on a card but it seems like you have to if you want something nice. Especially for men - i.e. Father's Day. I just want to get a card without alcohol or sports prominently featured on it!"

"You name it I have shopped there, high street, boutiques, Clinton, Asda, Tesco, independant shops...everywhere. I just think the cards here are pants! Total pants! I am not a big fan of cards anyway, I would rather give someone a phone call or buy them a drink. This isn't going to be a popular view, but what a waste of money greetings cards are! £2 that you throw away a few weeks later! Bah Humbug I say!"

"That's bizarre! I've never ever heard anyone complain about greeting cards in the UK before! In fact, when I lived in the US, most of the cards I bought were imported from the UK."

"I've always found it to be the other way around - I think the stores in the US have terrible card selections - although maybe that's because I'm British and am used to the UK-style cards."

"I agree with Racheee--the "regular places" Clinton, Hallmark, etc. don't do it for me at all. Enough with the teddy bears and balloons already! There is one small independant place in my neighborhood that has great cards--classy, cute, artistic--really good ones. I know cards are sort of a waste of paper and money, but sometimes you've gotta do it, when it's expected--like Mother's Day, etc. I used to make my own, but lately I don't have the time to do that."

"I *really* had a hard time finding my dad a Father's Day card here. He's not into boats, golf, beer, or fishing and he's *not* the "greatest dad", etc. That being said I do think I had a hard time finding him cards in the US as well."

"I can't stand the silly sentimental poems in American greeting cards! There seem to be more lovely blank cards here, for those of us who like to use our own words. I haven't actually noticed teddy bears on British cards, either, but I certainly wouldn't buy one like that. I seem to remember a lot of cutesy teddy bears at Hallmark, though. I guess they're everywhere ... because I guess people do buy them."

"I prefer blank cards myself but the choice here is very limited, as far as what I have found. I found in the states you weren't restricted to soppy stuff, in fact Hallmark has really pushed the envelope (ah bad pun) in terms of creating cards that run the gamut from sop to straight and simple."

"ooo...see I'm different. I could always find the funny cards in the U.S. a lot easier than I can over here! I think the difference being is pretty much what everyone has already said, over here any funny cards have to do with farting, drinking, naked ole men, fishing, boating, etc. My dad isn't like that and I don't do sentinmental cards as that's just not how we are. I used to find the best funny cards in the states! Now I have just taken to buying a decent card making program and do my own!! And I definately don't do sentinmental card as my mom is already mental and I don't want hear about it! (Kind of think Stacey Slater's momn just not so dramatic)."

"I love Edward Monkton - I've sent some of those that have brought tears to my eyes (from laughing, obviously!)"

Source: UK Yankee. Americans in the UK

- Edward Monkton Cards, as mentioned above, available from
Cool Cards

Thursday, 12 June 2008

RHS Photographic Competition 2008

Royal Horticultural Society - The Medici Award
For photos of gardens and plants that would make a successful card design.

The Medici Photographer of the Year : Image made into the 2009 RHS/Medici greeting card.

The RHS Photographic Competition, supported by fine art publisher The Medici Society, is for aspiring greeting card designers. Enter an eye catching and commercially savvy photo to win the title of Medici Photographer of the Year and your image will be made into a greeting card.

Here's some advice on choosing an image from Medici CEO, Graeme Derby: “Buying a card is an emotional practice and the card design must move its buyer. Often the picture has to fit a specific purpose, Valentine’s Day or a thank you card. The colours are often bright and the focal point must rest in the top half of the card – so when it’s on display in a shop, the image is not hidden by the stack of cards in front of it. It’s definitely an intriguing process we go through when we buy a card – I think the old slogan, I saw this and thought of you, sums it up best.”

What makes a successful card design?

  1. Content choice - does the image fit the occasion; will it seduce the consume; is it a familiar image to the consumer (familiar image=recognition) or alternatively is it unusual and thus attracts our attention for this quality.
  2. Focal point – If you mentally divide your screen into three horizontal and three vertical sections, where the lines intersect are focal points. Focal points are what the eyes naturally seek out when they look at a photograph. They may also come through contrasting elements of light and dark, scale, an isolated image, or simply through placement.
  3. Unity – the elements of the imagery belong together. If the various elements are not harmonious, if they appear separate or unrelated your composition falls apart and lacks unity.
  4. Colour – Properties of colour to consider are hue, intensity, complementary colours and colour discord.
  5. Use of balance – A distribution of visual weight within a composition. A sense of balance – generally an innate lack of balance or imbalance disturbs us. However this does not mean that there is no place for purposeful imbalance. An unbalanced image can often interest us and attract our attention for exactly this quality.
  6. Texture – the surface quality of objects. Texture appeals to our sense of touch. Even when we do not actually feel an object, our memory provides a sensory reaction or sensation of touch.
  7. Scale and proportion – realistic. How is the image filing the space?
Competition details and entry form : RHS

Friday, 6 June 2008

Happy Birthday Henry - 112 Today!

"cigarettes, whisky and wild women..."

"Britain's oldest man, thought to be one of three surviving UK World War I veterans, is celebrating reaching his 112th birthday.

Henry Allingham, who was born in London on 6 June 1896, is also the last surviving original member of the Royal Air Force - formed 90 years ago.

Mr Allingham, from Ovingdean, near Brighton, will celebrate at Royal Air Force College Cranwell, Lincolnshire.

The event will include a fly past by the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.

There will also be a parachute jump display.

The event will be attended by Air Vice Marshal Peter Dye (retd) and Vice Admiral Sir Adrian Johns.

As well as the fly past and the parachute jump by the Royal Air Force Falcons Parachute Display Team, Mr Allingham's birthday will be marked by a visit from local school children who will give him a cake.


Now partially deaf and almost blind, Mr Allingham, who was born in Clapham, London, now lives at St Dunstan's home for blind ex-servicemen, in Ovingdean.

His life has spanned six monarchs and has taken in 21 prime ministers.

Mr Allingham is the last survivor of the Battle of Jutland in 1916, and also fought at the Somme and Ypres where he was bombed and shelled.

He joined the Royal Air Force when it was formed from the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) and the Army's Flying Corps in 1918.

His many medals and honours include the British War Medal, the Victory Medal and the Legion D'Honneur - the highest military accolade awarded by France.

He has joked that the secret to his longevity is "cigarettes, whisky and wild women".

BBC News (includes video)
Henry Allingham

Saturday, 24 May 2008

Father's Day v Mother's Day - In Coversation

Father's Day greeting cards: In conversation with Cool Cards employee Mark Blaseby, Senior Mailboy (due to his age).

Hi Mark!

M: Who are you? You've not been down in the basement before? Only joking boss! What you after this time? Tapping my brain again? I sould have some of your pay!

Great to see you Mark, excellent work you do down here!
I'd like your input, I want to ask you, Father's Day cards. Why the contrast in design, sentiment and expenditure as compared to Mother's Day cards?

M: I don't think men really want these mushy slushy sentimental cards. I think its a macho thing. We don't like to openly display our emotions. And also we like to be able to take a joke at our expense. It helps depict the fun picture us fathers are. You never see any humorous Mother's Day cards, women, they can't take a joke. The last thing you want to hear is a soppy sentiment, kids either like us or they don't and we know that with or without a card. They have their own way of expressing their feelings toward you. Mothers are used to receiving open displays of sentiment throughout the year. And therefore receiving a sentimental card is the norm so to speak, they expect that type of card. The father maybe almost embarassed by it. New paragraph!

M: What I would like to say about Father's Day cards, is why do so many depict Steam Engines and Lawnmowers, Yachting and Golfing? What else is there? Why did I forget Football? And I forgot Beer didn't I? There has to be more to us than that, or is there? What we need is P**N! Only joking! You'll edit that out won't you boss? Seriously, if I knew the answer to that one I could make myself a bit of money. Unlike working for you!

Thank you Mark. Your Fired.

Friday, 23 May 2008

Father's Day Cards. Clichés, Stereotypes

Clichéd Father's Day greeting cards persist despite social changes. Are any greeting card companies even remotely attempting to buck the trend and pave the way..?

"Dad is a lout on many Father's Day cards, but that may be changing

Fathers sleep a lot, and they snore loudly. When they're awake, they like to fish or golf, but they're comically bad at both. They drink so much beer they're practically alcoholics, and they're complete couch potatoes, always watching television and hogging the remote.

At least, that's the less-than-favourable image of Dad on Father's Day greeting cards. It's a striking contrast to the poetic praise often expressed at Mother's Day. Many men say they are tired of the "put-down" cards and would like some affirmation for a change - and at least one greeting-card company is listening.

One father in Washington, D.C., who used to stay home with his kids and blog about his life as an at-home father, says the golf and fishing cards don't bother him, but he doesn't like the ones that make dads look incompetent.

"This idea that men are somehow biologically incapable of caring for their children is the sort of thing that I don't find particularly funny," said Brian Reid, father of two.

Not only greeting cards, but television and movies often convey the idea that Dad is unreliable with every parental duty from changing a diaper to picking the kids up at school, he says.

Greeting cards can be a good litmus test for the way society perceives various relationships and people. Companies want to sell cards, so they aim to hit a spark of truth. But generalizing in order to reach people can lead to stereotypes that then get perpetuated and take on a life of their own.

In an age where about 159,000 dads stay home with their children, according to 2006 U.S. Census numbers, it's hardly accurate to say that dads don't know what they're doing."

Continued... Source

Father's Day for many countries falls on the Third Sunday of June (The 15th in 2008)

Wiki: Father's Day

Friday, 28 March 2008

Fair Trade greeting cards from the Green Mountains

Fair Trade Greeting Cards - USA

"(NECN: Burlington, Vermont) - The secret of success, for one greeting card company, lies in the Green Mountains of Vermont and the Himalayan mountains of India. The company is called 'Hope For Women,' and its aim is to pair disadvantaged artisan women with marketing opportunities.

NECN's Anya Huneke has the story.

15-years-ago, Evan Goldsmith took a trip that would change not only his life, but the lives of women halfway across the world. He lived and worked in the Himalayas of India, and ended up meeting a group of artisans crafting hand-made greeting cards.

Evan: "I kept sending the cards home, and people loved them."

The problem was, the women had no access to a market for their products. As a result, they were making very little money for their hard work. Evan returned to the U.S. with a plan. He started an organization in Burlington, Vermont, called "Hope for Women," to provide the women with a marketing resource.

A year and a half ago, with the help of his father, a New York businessman, he brought the fair trade, environmentally-friendly cards to the retail market. The rest, as they say, is history.

As of now, all the cards being sold come from India, but soon, they'll come from El Salvador, too. Hope for Women has just signed on with an artisan group there, so come July, the cards will be sold in stores as well.

Evan: "Right now, we're in over 500 stores across 47 states..."

Including natural foods giant 'Wholefoods.' Scribbles, a stationary store in Burlington, is another retailer. It took little time to convince manager Jane Jarecki that this was a viable product.

JareckI: "The fact that they're local, fair trade, and beautiful for the amount they cost, keeps them flying off the shelf."

50 women in India are behind the 20,000 cards created each month. The cards are crafted using paper made from recycled cotton rags, vegetable-based ink, and pressed flowers, and are packaged in compostable plastic.

Evan: "We're trying to be as complete a package as possible, so there are very few reasons for someone to say, 'no - you're not meeting certain criteria.'

David: "This is a real marketing niche. Being as green and as fair trade as you can be - is becoming something that's going to have a lot of legs."

Amber: "The greatest thing of all - you're doing something where you're making the world a better place."

Better, for sure, for these women, Evan says; many of whom were barely making minimum wage...

Evan: "The ability to make 5-7 times that per day - translates to the ability to put a child in school or get medical security."

Continued... Source (with video)

The UK has long since supported and enjoyed the mutual benefits of Fair Trade Greeting Cards. Shared Earth have supported the work of Salay Handmade Paper Industries who have produced beautiful handmade cards since 1987.

Salay Handmade Paper Industries

available from: Shared Earth

Why don't Cool Cards sell these beautiful cards?
Well... We did at one time! The Cool Cards website was once part of our Fair Trade gift shop. Sadly, our shop closed but Cool Cards lived on and did sell Salay cards. One drawback of the Internet is that it is very difficult to convey the fine detail, beauty and quality of these handmade cards on-line. Our card ranges change over time depending on customer choices. We are continually on the hunt for Fair Trade, environmentally friendly cards and wide open to suggestions!

Learn more about Fair Trade:
Fairtrade Foundation
Wiki: Fair trade
Oxfam: Make Trade Fair
British Association for Fair Trade Shops

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Positive Ageing Greeting Cards

Growing old is inevitable, growing up is optional...

By 2050 around 50% of the UK population will be over the age of 50.

Might it be that a more positive view of ageing is not only effective in reducing negative stereotypes of ageing but can bring about positive health and social benefits?

We have come to recognise discrimination in respect of race, gender, sexuality, religion and disability - older age has yet to receive the same acknowledgement.

The greeting card industry has a role to play and is, sadly, all too often seen to reinforce negative stereotypical views of older age.

“Seniors are often invisible in our society, which is very sad. I don’t think it’s going to stay that way once the baby boomers get older. They are going to become very prevalent in society. They are going to be out there advocating for their rights and the rights of seniors, and as they become more noticeable and out there in society, you’re going to start seeing some changes.”
Applied Social Psychology student Shannon Ellis.

"Age is mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter"
(Mark Twain)

Our collection shows that it doesn't always have to be that way...
Cool Cards : Positive Ageing Greeting Cards
Cool Cards Blog:
Greeting Cards betray attitudes toward elderly

Google : Positive Ageing

"A 97-year-old man from Dorset is believed to have become Britain's oldest skydiver after jumping out of a plane at 10,000ft (3,048m).

George Moyse, who will celebrate his 98th birthday on Wednesday, landed safely on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire.

Mr Moyse, of Bournemouth, who was strapped to an instructor, carried out a freefall for the first 5,000ft (1,524m) at nearly 120mph (193kmh).

He is raising money for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI).

Mr Moyse was joined by his 43-year-old grandson, Edward Brewer, who also completed a tandem jump in aid of the Royal Air Force Association.

After the jump Mr Moyse said: "It was lovely, I really enjoyed it, I wasn't frightened at all.

"It was the first time but it won't be the last."

Mr Moyse said that he was an outgoing person who put his old age and agility down to luck.

"I do not sit around, I get about, I go for a walk every day and I do my own cooking, washing, ironing, everything," he said. "I have just been lucky to be so agile."

Earlier, Mr Brewer, of Petersfield, Hampshire, said: "This is all my grandfather's idea; he has supported the RNLI all his life so they were the obvious beneficiaries when he decided he really wanted to do the jump."

In 2008, RNLI lifeguards in the south west responded to about 8,400 incidents on the beach, helping nearly 10,000 people and saving 39 lives.

The charity operates more than 230 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and has more than 100 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK"

Source: BBC News - with video