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Image of Victorian Christmas card

Christmas Card

Q I was wondering if you could take a look at a greeting card found in an old family album. I think it is awesome looking - the detail and colouring on the little boy is amazing. I was hoping you may be able to tell me some history on it, may be what year it's from and does the word "AJAX "stand for the cleaning product or did it stand for something else? Were these cards very popular? Were they just for the wealthy? Are they of any value or highly collectable?

Janet

A The card is a Victorian Christmas card dating around 1880. The reason the colouring is so rich is because it was printed by chromolithography - a technique of printing from stone. This card may have been printed using eight or more colours, each colour requiring a different stone.

The boy is wearing a sailor-suit which were very popular in Victorian times and reflected the nations pride in the their navy, which leads me on to the name "Ajax" which is the name given to a Battleship built in 1880, and went out of service in 1904.

Victorian greeting cards are collectable - just take a look on eBay, that will give you some idea of the interest there is. In the UK this particular card in a good, clean condition could be purchased for a few pounds.

These cards were extremely popular in their time and the makers classified themselves as Fine Art publishers. Every year, just before Christmas, new collections of cards from the major card publishers were reviewed in the press. Produced in all price ranges they were affordable to every level of society - children, chambers maids, footmen, working and middle classes, the gentry and even the Queen herself !

MW

 

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

 

Ephemera - minor transient documents of every day life