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July 20, 2022

Bringing Greeting Cards Into the 21st Century

Greeting cards have been around for centuries. Digital greeting cards have existed since the late 1990’s. CircleIt has brought digital greeting cards into the 21st century with future delivery.

Ancient China is credited as the first culture to use greeting cards, to celebrate the new year.

The ancient Chinese and Egyptians were the earliest known cultures to utilize greeting cards. The Chinese had a long tradition of sending positive greetings at the start of the New Year. The Egyptians would create papyrus scrolls sending glad tidings to friends and family on regular occasions. The history of greeting cards is an interesting one, and the future of digital greeting cards is truly revolutionary.

Early Greeting Card Use

While it is difficult to imagine Cleopatra or Confucius shopping at the local Hallmark Store, both ancient Egyptian and Chinese cultures are the earliest known senders of greeting cards.

As part of the celebration of the New Year, the ancient Chinese would prepare small notes and share them with friends and family. This tradition was prevalent throughout Chinese culture for hundreds of years, and continues today. Much like the Chinese, the ancient Egyptians were fond of sending goodwill to loved ones.

The Egyptians would create messages using hieroglyphics on papyrus, which was a surface similar to the card stock of today. In fact, some ancient well-wishes have been unearthed in archaeological digs over the years.Just imagine if a greeting card you created today could be seen by your descendants hundreds of years from now.

The Modern Greeting Card Industry is Born

Birthday cards are among some of the most popular greeting cards sent every year.

The next known use of greeting cards did not occur until hundreds of years later. In the 1400’s, Germans began creating greeting cards on woodcuts, which were akin to the modern printing press. The artist would carve a photo and words into the wood block, and then the block was dipped in inks and applied to paper.

As the trend grew in Germany, it began to spread to other European countries, especially for Valentine’s Day. In fact, the British Museum in London has what is known as the oldest existing Valentine’s Day card, dating back to 1415. The card was actually created by Charles, the Duke of Orleans from France. He was captured by the British during the Hundred Years’ War. While imprisoned in the Tower of London, the Duke penned a Valentine’s Day card to his wife.

When we think of greeting cards, we often think of a quick note written inside a folded piece of artwork. The cards of the 15th century were more like decorative letters, with longer messages written out. The artwork was created by the woodcuts, which could be done by the writer of the card, or even a local artist.

The Renaissance Leads to Explosive Greeting Card Use

The creation of art and literature in society blossomed during The Renaissance, with some of the most famous works created still on display in museums today. Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and others created art while inspiring other, lesser known artists during this time.

This understandably led to creation and widespread use of greeting cards. Europeans were starting to share their good tidings via greeting cards more regularly. Cards were most commonly sent for Christmas and Valentine’s Day. As the Renaissance came to a close in the 1700’s, New Year’s cards became popular, which may have been a throwback to the ancient Chinese tradition.

Handmade cards became more elaborate during this period of time as well. One method used to decorate cards was quilling, which involved cutting paper into thin strips and gluing it to the surface of the card. This technique was developed by nuns and monks, who used quilling to decorate the exterior of books.

It goes without saying that greeting cards during The Renaissance were very personal and elaborate. This made them expensive to create as well. There were no mass produced greeting cards at this point in history, which would change in the coming years.

The Surge in Greeting Cards

In the 1800’s, the sharing of greeting cards surged dramatically. There were many reasons for this explosive growth and creation of an industry.

The creation of the postal service was one major reason for this growth. While mail had existed for hundreds of years, the organization and implementation of a system expanded the delivery of all kinds of letters and notes, and greeting cards were among the most popular types of mail.

Another major factor leading to the explosion of greeting card use was the commercialization of cards. Now, instead of intricately creating a personalized card, everyone could go to the store to buy a ready-made card and mail it out. These cards were much like the cards we are used to today, with messages printed on them. This made it easy for those that could not write to still share messages of love, congratulations, or celebration with loved ones.

Esther Howland was an American artist and businesswoman credited with creating and selling some of the first Valentine's Day cards sold in the United States. While similar cards were already available in Europe and were imported to North America, Esther is credited with introducing a more affordable version. She is fondly referred to as The Mother of the American Valentine.

The very first commercial Christmas card was made in London, England in the Victorian era. A British civil servant named Sir Henry Cole hired his friend John Callcott Horsley, a painter and illustrator, to design the card. It was made of stiff cardboard with a lithograph design that was then hand-painted. In the center of the card there is a family party happening and on side panels there are illustrations of the poor receiving donations of food and clothing. This was the first depiction of the Christmas spirit in action. There were a thousand of these available to buy.

The Modern Age of Greeting Cards: Digital Cards & More

Send digital greeting cards for any occasion now or in the future with CircleIt

The production of personal computers made greeting cards into a digital product. Cards were first available to be created on home computers and printed off. With the introduction of the internet, the digital greeting card was introduced. Cards could be created on a website and instantly sent via email to anyone in the world.

The speed with which cards were delivered and the growing amount of digital options available have kept greeting cards alive as a tradition in modern society. So what is the next evolution of the greeting card?

CircleIt Revolutionizes the Greeting Card Industry

If the 21st century has been about anything, it has been the use of technology to improve processes and disrupt entrenched industries. The greeting card industry is no different. CircleIt has brought the revolutionary use of future delivery.

Just imagine that today a grandparent can create a wedding card for an infant grandchild. Or a parent with cancer can make a graduation card for their young son or daughter. These cards can then be delivered via CircleIt to the child on the correct day. Cards can even have video or audio messages attached to them, creating a treasured heirloom for future generations to enjoy forever.

Try CircleIt today. Send a loved one a card using guest mode, or register to unlock more features.