I’m taking a mini break from muralists (that is the plan, anyway, we’ll see if I stick to it) to kill two birds with one postage stamp.
I am not really killing any birds with stamps — if you thought that was a literal statement, you should be very, very afraid of me.
For the next month-ish, I’m going to try to give you some holiday-themed postal service tidbits. I can tell you now that Hanukkah is going to be rough, but by December 19, I expect I’ll have learned a lot. And by the 26th, I’ll probably be very happy that I don’t have enough followers to lambast me for all of the holidays I missed.
Today, I will start with the very first Christmas Card even though, darn it all, I just remembered that it is Native American Heritage Day. Rats.
Henry Cole, who would go on to found the Victoria and Albert Museum (which is an amazing museum) in London, was a popular guy and he responded to his letters. Failing to do so at the time in Britain was considered extremely rude. You can image, then, what happened when penny post was implemented, allowing anyone and everyone to send mail on the way cheap (as we might say today). It would be something like being a celebrity today and feeling the need to reply to every Tweet someone fired at you; or having 5,000 unopened emails in your inbox, expecting to get to them eventually.
This would not do for poor Mr. Cole who, alas, had a life. So he had an artist friend design a Christmas-themed card. As with just about every bleeding thing anyone does or says these days (we think we’re so unique; everything is “unprecedented” because history only counts if we were part of it), the card caused an uproar among some. The issue was the design, which featured a large (sounds like it to me, anyway) family feasting on a Victorian Christmas dinner, and scenes of similar folk (maybe the same??) helping the poor.
It was not this juxtaposition of have and have-nots or the privilege of being able to be charitable that caused the controversy. It was the fact that the feasting family included children drinking wine. It was an outrage for the time (and may not go over well in some sets today, though it’s art, not reality).
The whole story is pretty interesting. You can read it here.