Louis Prang came from Bavaria to the Boston in 1950. Prang was trained in wood engraving and then started to work in lithography. Mostly he made business cards and the like, but then he started to make elaborate reproductions of paintings.
In 1874 he decided to make Christmas post cards, these had recently started to become popular in England because of the new low postal rates. The next year there was a sufficient United States market, so he started selling the post cards there.
The early cards were small postcards, printed on one side, like today's post cards. At first there were not a lot of Christmas pictures,it was mostly flowers with a short Christmas greeting.
In 1880, Prang started to do something new. He initiated a yearly design contract which attract many well known artists, the prizes were actually quite large for the time; up to $1,000 for the first place winner. There were also prizes for second and third place.
Once he had some elaborate designs, the cards started to get bigger, up to seven by ten inches. These cards sold for up to one dollar each, and in 1880's dollars that was a lot of money. But he sold a lot and they are still being collected.
Prang only sold cards for a relatively short time; he stopped making them when the penny postal rates where established in the United States. This lead to lots of competitors coming into the market, including Hallmark, who sold the cards for much less than Prang.
All the images below are from Thomas Prang greeting cards and post cards. They are in the public domain, so feel free to use them however you want. just right click to save.
VICTORIAN CHRISTMAS CARDS
CARD MAKER SOFTWARE
ANIMALS AND BIRDS
PRANG ALSO ILLUSTRATED SOME CHRISTMAS BOOKS
OTHER CHRISTMAS IMAGE HUBS
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