“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.
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 mechanizatin, as well as the 1840 introduction of the postage stamp.
The first known published Christmas card appeared 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.
Although the first known valentine card can be traced back to 1415, it wasn’t until the early 1800s and the Penny Post that they became popular and affordable. Esther Howland, a young woman from Massachusetts, was the first regular publisher of valentines in the United States. She sold her first handmade valentine in 1849, eventually establishing a successful publishing firm specializing in the elaborately decorated cards.” – greetingcard.org