Friday, 19 December 2014


Today is Day 8 of '12 Days of Victorian Christmas Cards'. I'm going to share a slightly different image of Father Christmas to the one from Day 1 which was based on the more scary pagan figure.

Copyright Michelle Higgs
In this card, Father Christmas is wearing a brown cloak and he has become more benign, similar to the red-jacketed gift-giving Father Christmas of today. The 1880s was the period in which there was a cross-over between the pagan figure of Father Christmas and the more friendly Santa Claus.

This is not a standard Christmas card; the reverse reveals it is, in fact, a trade card for the toy shop E. J. Wright's in Clapham High Street. The verse reads:

'Little Bo-peep had lost her sheep,
They left their tails behind them;
But come to the sights at E. J. Wright's,
And you'll be sure to find them.
And if you don't see those lambkins wee,
Then turn your faces beaming,
And open your eyes in wild surprise
At toys beyond your dreaming.

Horses are there beyond compare,
And pussy-cats are waiting, -
Such delights at E. J. Wright's!
And bon-bons fascinating,
Chocolate creams, and fruit that gleams
All frosted and beguiling, -
Tell Mother dear, she'll find them here
Where Santa Claus is smiling.'

Victorian customers had to be wary of the 'fruit that gleams all frosted and beguiling' because these types of sweets and bon-bons were coloured with poisons such as chromate of lead and red sulphuret of mercury (vermilion). They were highly toxic and could be deadly!

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