Dec 11, 2011

Collecting Ephemera of the Christmas Variety

I finally finished my Christmas cards. I have a million uncles and cousins and friends in other lands, all of whom are expecting a Christmas greeting. And not just any Christmas greeting, seeing that I have a 10 month old, it has to be an extra adorable Christmas greeting. Cross it off the 'to do' list cause it's done and done! Getting the stack of envelopes off to the post brought to mind a favorite holiday collection: paper Christmas ephemera. I've talked about my love affair with ephemera before. And the holidays offer us a free pass to get crazy with the ephemera hoarding via cards, postcards, wrapping paper, box labels, sheet music, die cuts, packages and so on!
One of the most sought after pieces in Christmas ephemera collecting is the greeting card, or most often greeting post card. The first commercially produced Christmas cards were commissioned by Sir Henry Cole in 1843. These early English cards were not depicting religious and wintery images like the cards we know today, but favored flowers and and fairies instead. In 1875 greeting cards were introduced to the American market. Then the postcard hit the scene and changed everything, though by the 1920's cards with envelopes were coming back into style. 

If you are interested in Collecting Christmas postcards and greeting cards The Ephemera Society of America, as I've mentioned before, is a wonderful resource for budding and experienced collectors. The books "Christmas Cards," "Children's Greeting Cards: Collecting Vintage (Identification & Values), " and "The Yule Log" are available for purchase on The British Museum has obtained the wonderful Christmas card collection of Queen Mary and is available for viewing during the holiday season. 


Another marvelous thing I end up keeping after Santa's yearly visit is wrapping paper. Yes, I'm that person that carefully slips the gift out of it's trappings, folds the paper flat and stores it to use again. I have collected some of the greatest pieces of wrapping only to see them go as I hand them off to that special someone. Wrapping paper floats in and out of my life like snow. Although, if it was a particular pattern that I couldn't live with out, I'm sure it has ended up in my file cabinet-a mysterious and deep vortex who's innards have only briefly been explored. 

It is said that the wrapping paper we know and love slipped into the sales market on accident. According to the lore, the Hall brothers (pioneers of Hallmark) had sold out of their well known red, white, green and holly printed tissue paper. In a pinch they placed some fancy french envelope linings and they sold out too! They offered them again the next year and found they were just as popular-even with the increased price. That was in 1925, by the following decade they were selling papers rolled on tubes and shrink wrapped-the paper we are most familiar with today. 


Be sure and use Christmas as an excuse to hoard more than you normal would. It's what I do. 

Display your Holiday collections with pride! Everyone loves a good Christmas Collection. 


All of the great Christmas Ephemera you see here is available for sale on Etsy! It would make a great gift. Thank you Etsy sellers for the use of your photographs.

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