In 1953, two women deliver holiday greeting cards to a female postal clerk at the downtown Bay City post office. Each woman’s greeting cards are sorted into two stacks. An enlarged photo shows that the card stacks of the woman approaching the service window are topped with printed labels reading, “All for Local Delivery” and “All for Out of Town Delivery.” No one pictured has been identified.
The female customers are dressed in stylish, near-ankle-length, belted, winter coats with then-popular spaciousness and glamour-adding plush collars. Fur-lined, wedge-heeled, ankle-high boots are visible on the woman nearest the service window. The woman next in line wears a festive holiday ornament in her hair and a holiday corsage on her coat lapel. No purses are visible.
The U.S. Greeting Card Association website explains that the start of the greeting card industry in America is generally credited to lithographer Louis Prang, a German immigrant. Prang published his first Christmas card for American customers in 1875. Since then, greeting card designs have been influenced by the nation’s changing social trends and concerns. At the time of this photo, American Christmas cards reflected “America’s postwar interest in abstract art, the beat generation, cars, and the new medium of television.” Humorous holiday cards were gaining popularity then.
The Greeting Card Association reports that Americans now purchase approximately 1.6 billion cards yearly, including boxed cards. Today’s holiday card sending is divided into two broad categories: cards celebrating Christmas as a religious holiday and secular cards celebrating the holiday season.
In 2014, the U.S. Postal Service projected 15.5 billion cards, letters, and packages would be delivered from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve. Photo courtesy of Janice Sass, Bay County.