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Christmas cards on display in History Centre


An exhibition showing the humble Christmas card through the years will open at the Hull History Centre next week.

The exhibition, Greetings and Glad Tidings: Christmas Cards Through The Years, will be held at the centre from Tuesday 20 November to Saturday 5 January. It will focus on how the design, sentiment and language of Christmas cards has changed since the first festive greetings card was sent in 1843.

A card made 150 years ago, examples from both world wars, two cards with silk fringes and brightly coloured cards from the 1950s will go on show. The oldest card - from 1868 - is in almost perfect condition, adorned with a delicate design and an intricate bevelled edge, with nothing written inside.

Archivist Elspeth Bower said: “The inspiration for the exhibition came from a desire to know whether the traditional Christmas card, which was once an integral part of Christmas, has a future in the social media age in which we live.

“Christmas cards have undoubtedly seen a decline, especially amongst the younger generation. However, though they can be expensive to post and to buy, there are still plenty of people who love to send and receive them every year.

“It has been amazing to find while working on this exhibition that individual cards often have a story behind them and evoke memories of a bygone time.”

Many of the cards have been loaned to the centre by Hull residents, with one taking in more than 100 cards. 

Visitors to the exhibition will be polled on whether they still send physical cards and invited to draw a Christmas scene, write a festive message or memory and give their opinions on the exhibition. Contributions will be posted into a full-sized Victorian-style pillar box, made by a member of staff, with poll results published online in the new year. 

Councillor Marjorie Brabazon, Chair of Hull Culture & Leisure Ltd, said: “This exhibition provides a fascinating look into the history of one of the most cherished Christmas traditions.

“More and more people are sending their Christmas greetings through more modern channels, but I know a significant number of residents still love to send and receive Christmas cards to their loved ones – and long may that tradition continue.”

The History Centre will be closed for stocktaking from Monday 3 to Saturday 8 December and for Christmas from Monday 24 December to Tuesday 1 January, reopening on Wednesday 2 January at 9.30am.

Find out more about the exhibition by calling the centre on 01482 317500 or


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