This Christmas card was sent to my great aunt Paulina, probably some time in the late 1890s. By 1903 she was employed as a teaching assistant at Dinas school (paid £35* per year) and would shortly marry Thomas Maurice, the Head Teacher. “You know who”, with an ink splodge around the ‘k’ surely can’t be the way the head teacher signed his greeting card to the young colleague he would eventually marry.
This card was made to last. The paper insert sits within a sturdy, shiny cover, pieced by a window that reveals the idyllic country scene. Could this shiny material be gutta percha?
The custom of sending Christmas cards began with the penny post and was barely fifty years old when this card was sent. Its illustration and verses were typical of the time. Helen Marion Burnside (b. 1844) was a favourite of Queen Victoria’s and wrote approximately six thousand Christmas card verses between 1874 and 1900. The illustration is uncredited; to our eyes the violets and the sunny scene with trees in leaf are more typical of a card for Easter or Mother’s Day, but here it was a reassuring reminder that winter would eventually come to an end and warmer days return.
*According to the Bank of England inflation calculator this equates to £3,800 now.