Eighth in our series to appear on the first Friday of each month: Boston Firsts Fridays. #BostonFirsts
First Realty Management Corp. was founded in Boston over 50 years ago. We are proud to call this wonderful city our home, and call focus to some of the events & innovations that happened FIRST in Boston.
BF#08 First American Christmas Card Printed
Still working on your Christmas cards? You can blame Louis Prang, who at his Roxbury factory in 1875 printed what is acknowledged to be the first modern, color printed Christmas card made in the United States.
Known as the “father of the American Christmas card”, Prang emigrated from Germany in 1850 and settled in the Roxbury section of Boston. It was there that he launched Louis Prang & Company, a very successful printing firm that used a technique of his own design called chromolithography to reproduce fine art.
Printed Christmas cards were produced in Europe as early as 1840, and some of these made their way to America. But the cards made by Prang were something new; full-color printing, not hand tinted lithographs as had been previously made available. These cards were detailed, high-quality works of art, perfectly reproduced each time.
The cards were immediately popular, and in time the market was flooded with low-quality low-price alternatives, effectively shutting Prang out of the market. But his company continued to flourish in other areas of printing, moving to Springfield, MA near the turn of the century. And by the time he was laid to rest in the Forest Hills Cemetery in Jamaica Plain, his reputation for creating the American Christmas card was secure.
Fun fact: Had Prang come to Boston a bit earlier, it’s possible that this distinction would have eluded him, as Christmas was not recognized as a legal holiday in Boston until 1856 (having been previously banned in the 17th century)!
Bonus fun fact: Although a separate city five miles to the northwest of Boston, Medford is the home of the song “Jingle Bells”. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jingle_bells
Boston Public Library archives of Louis Prang & Company work: