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All-occasion Cartoon Greeting Card Zen

Jan 22, 2008
f sending greeting cards began in ancient Asia and Egypt. The cards were not really cards at all. They actually hand-written messages of good cheer on papyrus scrolls for New Years, the only day celebrated with such a "card". In the 15th Century, in Germany wood-sculpted New Years cards were exchanged. Later that in that century, paper Valentine's cards were given not just in Germany but all over Europe. It was not until the mid 19th century that the card had evolved into an affordable attractive way to communicate a message on other occasions, and were made on printing presses. In 1840, the postage stamp was created and this served to fuel this industry. The U.S. Post Office found itself delivering about 11 million more letters per year. An artist named John Horsley rendered the first Christmas card in 1843 in London. He had been commissioned by Sir Henry Cole so that he might send it to his friends to spread holiday cheer. The first Valentine card was actually not a card at all, but a message given by St. Valentine to his executioner. He was in prison for secretly performing marriage to military-aged men during the Fall Of The Roman Empire. Claudius felt marriage weakened the soldier and had outlawed it. While in prison, St. Valentine, who was known to have healing powers, allegedly healed the blindness of his jailer's daughter. St. Valentine scribbled a short note "From Your Valentine" to his jailer right before the jailer executed him (it is said with very mixed emotions but under orders of Claudius).

It would be another 1600 years before the first valentine card could be traced, and Penny Post made them popular with her publishing her handmade valentine in 1849 which was a fine piece of art, as were most cards in those times. A German immigrant named Louis Prang became known as "The Father Of The Greeting Card Industry" in 1856. He launched his card printing business in Boston in 1856 and these cards are thought to be the first in America to be mass produced and sold. He had perfected the color lithograph process so that reproductions of great artist's renderings could be reproduced inexpensively. Prang marketed to both the U.S and England selling massive quantities of cards, especially Christmas cards. The market then had a long slump from 1989 until 1906 and Prang had already abandoned it. Not long thereafter, the market began to improve again, and greeting card publishers which are now household words such as Hallmark and American Greetings were founded. They were mass produced on a much larger scale than Prang's cards and did not contain the detail or fine art of his creations. Most of the cards were sentimental ones; humor was rarely used. The "Good War" (WW11) boosted the greeting card industry tremendously, as Americans made a habit of sending them overseas to soldiers. It was not until the 1980's that the casual all-occasion (often humorous greeting card appeared). Toward the middle of that decade, Gary Larson's Far Side enhanced that industry even more and Hallmark added a "humor line" to their own inventory. With the invention of the Internet, electronic greeting cards became popular and remain so. Even some of the industry giant jumped into that game. But E-greetings never quite replaced the joy of the paper greeting cards which are still the biggest sellers. In 2008, cartoonist Rick London, founder of the popular Londons Times Cartoons, also founded Just Funny Greeting Cards which he sells online, in quantities only (boxes of cards). His theory is that the card itself is a gift. So he markets funny greeting cards, note cards, and post cards only, by the box, so that the person who orders, re-sends to friends individually, or the whole box as a gift. This has started a whole new niche market of which London founded. London, who has always been fascinated with "the zen of giving" feels that there is a very positive energy in the giving and re-giving of humorous greeting cards. He feels that all-occasion cards, rather than holiday-specific cards, gives the sender a chance to put his or her own creative energy into it, making it have more meaning. He is not against holiday specific cards, he is said to have seen a niche in the the industry that was and is untouched. He uses only his Londons Times Cartoons on his boxes of greeting cards, note cards, and postcards, and they have not other message than the funny cartoon. He feels everyone enjoys purveying humor, and this gives the sender a chance to use the "zen of creativity" and purvey his or her own funny message along with the cartoon, creating more joy than a regular greeting card can offer. He's doing something right. His client base is worldwide and they are ordering regularly. Could the humorous greeting card collection be the zen of peace?
About the Author
Cartoonist/Greeting Card Publisher Rick London believes there is a zen and positive energy in selling boxes of cartoon cards rather than single cards. His new JustFunnyGreeting Cards site The Zen Of Greeting Cards
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