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Sir Henry Cole's House

Situated in Elm Row, a small turning off Heath Street.

In 1843, Sir Henry Cole (1808-1882) faced a dilemma. He had so many Christmas greetings to send that handwriting them was impossible.

This interesting man, founder of London’s Victoria and Albert Museum.

He was in step with one of the underlying messages of Christmas: He wanted to make his friends aware of the need to help the destitute on that holiday.

He was responsible for making Christmas Cards Cheaper and More Available

In Henry’s day, Christmas cards were more expensive than they are now.

They were individually painted and delivered by hand.

ing cards go back to an ancient Egyptian prototype, what we know today as the Christmas card came to life in 1843 because this brilliant idea man was frustrated.

His problem-solving track record was nearly flawless. Henry, without benefit of a university education, started his career at age 15 in the Public Records Office, where he became instrumental in reforming the organization and preservation of the British national archives. He had conquered many problems relating to mounds of papers.

Then the answer came. It was a marriage of art and technology. Sir Henry—often referred to in the press as “Old King Cole”—commissioned artist John Calcott Horsley to paint a card showing the feeding and clothing of the poor. A center panel displayed a happy family embracing one another, sipping wine and enjoying the festivities.

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