Henry Cole Christmas card to see $8,200 in Henry Aldridge auction?

An extremely rare example of the Henry Cole Christmas card, the first to be commercially produced, has been consigned to Henry Aldridge & Son's December 14 auction in the UK.

It has a ?�5,000 ($8,200) high estimate.

Henry Cole Christmas card
The colour version is more common than the black and white, though both are scarce

The card was first produced on May 1, 1843, commissioned by Sir Henry Cole and illustrated by John Callcott Horsley. Until that point, greetings cards had been sent all year round, but none were made specifically for Christmas.

Cole's idea was a success, and an initial run of around 2,000 was printed in colour, though a few were made available in monochrome. Today, around 15 examples of the card are known, though only three examples of the black and white copy have surfaced, including the example at auction.

"There were two types of these cards produced. The most common was the colour version that sold for sixpence and the black and white version sold for a shilling," explained auctioneer Andrew Aldridge to the UK's Mirror newspaper.

The central image of the card shows a family raising a toast to the recipient, while a child is fed wine - an image that caused controversy on its release.

The example at auction was sent to a Miss Marinda Cundy in London, and was passed to her great niece after her death. It has since been passed down through the family, and therefore has fantastic provenance.

The market for Christmas collectibles is strong, with collectors keen to remember "the most wonderful time of the year". We have a fantastic range of Christmas cards for sale signed by Prince Charles and Princess Diana.

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