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, mechanization, and a reduction in postal rates with the introduction of the postage stamp.[4] This was followed by new trends like Christmas cards, the first of which appeared in published form 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. In the 1860s, companies like Marcus Ward & Co, Goodall and Charles Bennett began the mass production of greeting cards. They employed well known artists such as Kate Greenaway and Walter Crane as illustrators and card designers. The extensive Laura Seddon Greeting Card Collection from the Manchester Metropolitan University gathers 32,000 Victorian and Edwardian greeting cards and 450 Valentine's Day cards dating from the early nineteenth century, printed by the major publishers of the day.[5]
A standard greeting card is printed on high-quality paper (such as card stock), and is rectangular and folded, with a picture or decorative motif on the front. Inside is a pre-printed message appropriate for the occasion, along with a blank space for the sender to add a signature or handwritten message. A matching envelope is sold with the card. Some cards and envelopes feature fancy materials, such as gold leaf, ribbons, or glitter.

If you’re celebrating a birthday boy, you’ll find cards with charming animal illustrations and adventurous forest landscapes perfect for the plucky lad in your life (and all his future derring-do). Those entering their quarter- or mid-life crises deserve a card featuring sharp suiting, refined cocktails, and other trappings of fashionable maturity—it’s not so bad, we swear. Toast or roast the distinguished older gentleman in your life with funny birthday cards for men that make light of all those extra candles on the cake. Dry wit from The New Yorker and Derek Blasberg keeps the comedy fit for an evening at the Cafe Carlyle. Gents of any age will appreciate a card that features frosted gateaus, cream cakes, and other edible birthday indulgences. If you’d prefer to focus on the memories, a photo birthday card with an elegant typographic design or border frame lets you send a particularly sweet portrait of your jolly good fellow as you remember him best.
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