Like the cartoons in The New Yorker, where the captions often have scant relevance to their illustrations, these vintage Christmas cards seem perversely at odds with the intended holiday spirit. Krampus terrorizes a young boy. A frog robs and murders a fellow amphibian. A dead robin (apparently) signifies joyful wishes. A polar bear prepares to devour an unwitting explorer, while an emu inspects its prey. What are we to make of these cards—other than to surmise that humor does not age well?
With our incessant social media, email, Twitter and alike, we still like to send and receive cards. In 2014, the UK spent over two billion dollars on greetings cards, a nice little earner. Having spent the morning writing seasonal cards to various friends and family, I find my glittered pictures of snow scenes and Christmas lights pale beside this little mailbag of festive cheer. View the gallery >