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Advent calendar cover- illustration by Biro

Advent calendar details of inside- illustration by Biro

Advent Calendars

  • Advent Calendar book - DAVID, The Shepherd Boy
  • Front cover and inside calendar detail
  • Story told by Elizabeth Goudge, illustrations and painting by B.Biro
  • Published by Hamish Hamilton Ltd, London WC1
  • Mid 20th century
  • There is a numbered door or window for each of the 25 days to Christmas. Open one each day. If you put the picture against the window or lampshade the light will shine through and add to the effect.

Q How early were advent calendars printed?

Esther Gajek says that the first printed specimen was made in 1908 by a Swabian parishioner, Gerhard Lang. I saw several of Gajek's exhibitions (she has a large collection and arranges to show them in museums and libraries around Germany during the relevant period). What struck me was her definite date of post 1900, which is, by the way, based on a single publisher's archive.

Looking at chromolithographs in children's books, the rise in the sale of Christmas postcards during the 1880s and the versatile use made of images for example by the Tucks and Loewensohn (Erlangen near Nuremberg) I was surprised at the date and wonder whether calendars were not produced earlier, for example in England or France. Can anyone shed light on this subject?

Uta Schumacher-Voelker



This regular feature invites answers by email to members’ questions on an item of ephemera.