Friday, August 10, 2007

Greeting cards

Greeting card
A greeting card is an illustrated, folded card featuring an expression of friendship or other sentiment. Although greeting cards are usually given on special occasions such as birthdays, Christmas or other holidays, they are also sent to express thanks or other care. Greeting cards, usually packaged with an envelope, come in a variety of styles, are manufactured as well as hand-made by hundreds of companies big and small. These days, greeting cards with die-cuts or glued on decorations may cost up to five dollars each.
Hallmark Cards and American Greetings are the largest producers of greeting cards in the world. In the United Kingdom, it is estimated that one billion pounds are spent on greeting cards every year, with the average person sending 55 cards per year.[1]
In the United States, many adults traditionally mail Christmas cards to their friends and relatives in December. Many service businesses also send cards to their customers in this season, usually with a universally acceptable non-religious message such as "happy holidays" or "seasons's greetings".
1 Types of greeting cards
2 History
3 Postcards
4 Industry association
5 See also
6 References
Types of greeting cards

A standard greeting card is printed on high-quality paper (such as cardstock), and is rectangular and folded, with a picture or decorative motif on the front and a preprinted message appropriate to the occasion on the inside along with a blank space for the sender to add a signature or handwritten message. A matching envelope is sold with the card. It is common for both the card and envelope to feature fancy materials, such as gold leaf, ribbons, glitter, etc.
Some standard types of greeting-card messages are:
anniversaries: happy birthday, wedding anniversary
holidays: generic or specific holiday — merry Christmas, happy New Year, Hanukkah, etc.

life events: congratulations on graduation, baby shower, wedding
sympathy: get well, condolences for loss of loved one
personal sentiments: thank you, I'm sorry, thinking of you, friendship, love
Pictures and printed messages in greeting cards come in every style imagineable, from fine-art to humorous to profane. Occasion-nonspecific cards are also available, which feature a picture (or a pocket to paste in a personal photograph) but no preprinted message.

The custom of sending greeting cards can be traced back to the ancient Chinese, who exchanged messages of good will to celebrate the New Year, and to the early Egyptians, who conveyed their greetings on papyrus scrolls.
By the early 1400s, handmade paper greeting cards were being exchanged in Europe. The Germans are known to have printed New Year's greetings from woodcuts as early as 1400, and handmade paper Valentines were being exchanged in various parts of Europe in the early to mid-1400s.
However, by the 1850s, the greeting card had been transformed from a relatively expensive, handmade and hand-delivered gift to a popular and affordable means of personal communication, due largely to advances in printing and mechanization.
This trend continued, followed by new trends like Christmas cards, the first of which appeared in published form in London in 1843 when Sir Henry Cole hired artist John Calcott Horsley to design a holiday card that he could send to his friends and acquaintances.
In the 1860s companies like Marcus Ward & Co, Goodall and Charles Bennett began mass producing greeting cards. They employed well known artisits such as Kate Greenaway and Walter Crane as illustrators and card designers.
Technical developments like color lithography in 1930 propelled the manufactured greeting card industry forward. Humorous greeting cards, known as studio cards, became popular in the late 1940s and 1950s.


Greeting cards derive from postcards which are single sided without the fold. Postcards appeared fairly early on in the history of the Postal Service as a cheaper way of sending messages, especially those of a tourist nature.

Industry association
The Greeting Card Association is an international trade organization representing the interests of greeting card and stationery manufacturers.
John Beeder, former President of the Greeting Card Association, says greeting cards are effective tools to communicate important feelings to people you care about. "Anyone feels great when they receive an unexpected card in the mail. For me, there’s nothing like a greeting card to send a special message. I’m proud to be a part of an industry that not only keeps people connected, but uses both imagery and the power of words to help us express our emotions.”

Christmas card

Some Christmas cards

A Christmas card, also known as a holiday card in the United States, is a greeting card that is decorated in a manner that celebrates Christmas. Typical content ranges from truly Christian symbols such as Nativity scenes and the Star of Bethlehem to purely secular references, sometimes humorous, to seasonal weather or common Christmastime activities like shopping and partying. Christmas cards are exchanged during the Christmas season (around December 25) by many people (including non-Christians) in Western culture and in Asia.
Some Christian groups (such as Jehovah's Witnesses), however, disdain the celebration of holidays without explicit Biblical authorization, and so neither celebrate Christmas nor exchange Christmas cards.

1 History
2 The Christmas card list
3 Christmas letters
4 Variants on the concept
5 Charity


The world's first Christmas card, made by John Callcott Horsley
The first commercial Christmas cards were commissioned by Sir Henry Cole in London, 1843, and featured an illustration by John Callcott Horsley. The picture, of a family with a small child drinking wine together, proved controversial, but the idea was shrewd: Cole had helped introduce the Penny Post three years earlier. A batch of 1000 cards w
as printed and sold for a shilling each.

Early English cards rarely showed winter or religious themes, instead favoring flowers, fairies and other fanciful designs that reminded the recipient of the approach of spring. Humorous and sentimental images of children and animals were popular, as were increasingly elaborate shapes, decorations and materials. In 1875 Louis Prang became the first printer to offer cards in America, though the popularity of his cards led to cheap imitations that eventually drove him from the market. The advent of the postcard spelled the end for elaborate Victorian-style cards, but by the 1920s, cards with envelopes had returned.
Cards continued to evolve throughout the 20th century with changing tastes and printing techniques. The World Wars brought cards with patriotic themes. Idiosyncratic "studio cards" with cartoon illustrations and sometimes risque humor caught on in the 1950s. Nostalgic, sentimental, and religious images are once again popular, and reproductions of Victorian and Edwardian cards are easy to obtain.

"Official" Christmas cards began with Queen Victoria in the 1840s. The British royal family's cards are generally portraits reflecting significant personal events of the year. In 1953, President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued the first official White House card. The cards usually depict White House scenes as rendered by prominent American artists. The number of recipients has snowballed over the decades, from just 2000 in 1961 to 1.4 million in 2005.

Modern Christmas cards can be bought individually but are usually sold in packs of the same or varied designs. A revival of interest in paper crafts, particularly scrapbooking, has raised the status of the homemade card and made available an array of tools for stamping, punching and cutting. Advances in digital photography and printing have provided a more technological way to personalize cards with photos, messages, or clip art.


Technology may also be responsible for the decline of the Christmas card. The estimated number of cards received by American households dropped from 29 in 1987 to 20 in 2004.[2] Email and telephones allow for more frequent contact and are easier for generations raised without handwritten letters - especially given the availability of websites offering free email Christmas cards. Nonetheless, with 1.9 billion cards sent in the U.S. in 2005 alone, they are unlikely to disappear any time soon.

From the beginning, Christmas cards have been avidly collected. Queen Mary amassed a large collection that is now housed in the British Museum.[4] Specimens from the "golden age" of printing (1840s-1890s) are especially prized and bring in large sums at auctions. In December 2005, one of Horsley's original cards sold for nearly £9000. Collectors may focus on particular images like Santa Claus, poets, or printing techniques.

The Christmas card list
Many people send cards to both close friends and distant acquaintances, potentially making the sending of cards a multi-hour chore in addressing scores or even hundreds of envelopes. The greeting in the card can be personalized but brief, or may include a summary of the year's news. The extreme of this is the Christmas letter (below). Because cards are usually exchanged year after year, the phrase "to be off someone's Christmas card list" is used to indicate a falling out between friends or public figures.

Many businesses, particularly smaller local businesses, also send Christmas cards to the people on their customer lists, as a way to develop general goodwill, retain brand awareness and reinforce social networks. These cards are almost always tasteful, and do not attempt to sell a product, limiting themselves to mentioning the name of the business. The practice harkens back to "trade cards" of the 18th century, an ancestor of the modern Christmas card.
Christmas letters
Some people take the annual mass mailing of cards as an opportunity to update everybody with the year's events, and include the so-called "Christmas letter" reporting on the family's doings, sometimes running to multiple printed pages. While a practical notion, Christmas letters meet with a mixed reception; recipients may take it as boring minutiae, bragging, or a combination of the two. Since the letter will be received by both close and distant relatives, there is also the potential for the family members to object to how they are presented to others; an entire episode of Everybody Loves Raymond was built around conflict over the content of just such a letter.

Variants on the concept
In 2004, the German post office gave away 20 million free scented stickers, to make Christmas cards smell of a fir Christmas tree, cinnamon, gingerbread, a honey-wax candle, a baked apple and an orange.

Many organizations produce special Christmas cards as a fundraising tool. The most famous of these enterprises is probably the UNICEF Christmas card program, launched in 1949. More charities are introducing Christmas cards as part of a trend toward personal identification between donor and cause.

Since 2000, the U.K. conservation charity Woodland Trust has sponsored an annual campaign to collect and recycle Christmas cards to raise awareness of recycling and collect donations from corporate sponsors. Its goal for 2007 is to collect 90 million cards by year's end.
An e-card' is similar to a postcard or greeting card, with the primary difference being it is created using digital media instead of paper or other traditional materials. E-cards are made available by publishers usually on various Internet sites, where they can be sent to a recipient, usually via e-mail.

E-cards are digital "content", which makes them much more versatile than traditional greeting cards. For example unlike traditional greetings, e-cards can be easily sent to many people at once or extensively personalized by the sender. Conceivably they could be saved to any computer or electronic device or even viewed on a television set, however E-card digital content has not yet progressed as far as digital video or digital audio in terms of varied usage.
1 Usage
1.1 Printed e-cards
2 Technological evolution
2.1 Postcards
2.2 Flash animation
3 Mobile Revolution
4 History
5 Security
6 See also
7 References
8 External links

Typically an e-card sender chooses from an on-line catalog of e-cards made available on a publisher's web site. After selecting a card, the sender can personalize it to various degrees by adding a message, photo, or video. Finally the sender specifies the recipient's e-mail address and the web site delivers an e-mail message on behalf of the sender to the recipient.
Printed e-cards
Some e-cards are intended to be printed out rather than sent via e-mail. The advantage to this over a traditional greeting sometimes can be cost savings, or sometimes simply the ability to "create" something for the recipient rather than choosing a fully completed paper card.

Technological evolution
E-card technology has improved significantly since 1996 around the time of their inception. One technical aspect that has remained mostly contstant is the delivery mechanism: The e-mail received by the recipient contains not the e-card itself, but an individually coded link back to the publisher's web site that displays sender's card exactly as it was originally configured.

"Postcards" use static (non-moving) images. These were the first type of e-card in use. The recipient sees a single artistic image, accompanied by a personalized greeting message.

Flash animation
This type of e-card is based on two-dimensional vector animation controlled with a scripting language. The format is proprietary to Adobe, however, widespread usage of Adobe's software allows this type of card to be easily viewed on most of today's computers. The recipient sees an animated short usually 15-30 seconds in duration. The animation often appears to have a cartoon style due to the nature of the content, however, some Flash creations can be quite sophisticated and realistic. A sound track usually accompanies the animation which may contain speech or music.

Flash animated greeting cards can include interactivity, for example, asking the viewer to choose a picture to animate, however, most Flash e-cards are designed to convey the sentiment of the sender through simple observation.
Flash animated cards are offered today by almost all major e-card publishers and are consequently the most common format used.

Mobile Revolution
Traditionally e-cards were sent via computers but with the explosion of mobile phones and its portable technology have given way to e-cards being delivered via mobile phone. Mobile e-cards or 'Mcards' as they are more commonly known were originally created by a UK company called Sharpcards Ltd in 2004. The mcards are purchased via mobile phone networks WAP sites then are downloaded to the mobile then it is sent via MMS straight the recipients handset.

The greeting card metaphor was employed early in the life of the World Wide Web, and by Valentine's Day 1996 it was popular enough to be documented. That year, Valentine's cards were offered by and Sony Entertainment, among others.

In October 1999, Excite@Home bought the web site Blue Mountain Arts (which operate,[1] an e-Card site) for $780M (which represent a price of $71 per unique monthly user).[citation needed] The transaction has been referenced by CNN and Business 2.0 as evidence of the Dot-com bubble. On September 13, 2001, three weeks before filing for bankruptcy on October 1, 2001, Excite@Home sold to American Greetings for $35M, or $3.23 per unique monthly user.[citation needed] The web site remains a large web site, primarily focused on E-Cards. In May 2007 became the first E-Card site to allow users to personalize E-Greetings based on ethnicity, skin-tone, and gender.

Originally, most E-Cards were free, by virtue of being sponsored by advertising. While free greeting cards are still the most prevalent and popular, some sites charge for either all e-cards or special premium e-cards.[citation needed]

Since many e-card companies are privy to the e-mail address of the recipient and often also the sender, and whether the recipient reads the card, spammers can use E-Cards for finding active e-mail addresses.

Sending an e-card to a given recipient invariably involves giving that recipient's email address to the e-card service -- a third party. As with other third-party email services (such as mailing-list companies), the operator has the chance to misuse this address. One example of misuse is if the e-card service sends advertisements to the recipient's address. Under anti-spam rules used by major ISPs, such advertisements would be spam, since the recipient never asked ("opted in") to receive them.[3] The e-card sender as well as the service could be held responsible for the act of spamming, since while the service sent the spam, the e-card sender provided the address.
In some cases, it may be illegal for an organization or business to use an e-card service to send greetings to its customers. For instance, data privacy laws may forbid a business from disclosing information about customers to a third party -- including names and email addresses.
In late June 2007 a spat of emails with the subject line "You've received a postcard from a family member!" and other similar subjects, was seen making their way across the internet. Unfortunately most of these emails contained links to malicious web sites where javascript was used to exploit the browser in order to compromise a system.