The Christmas Card is often thought to be the idea of Henry Cole. In 1843 he had a thousand cards printed to sell in his London art shop. They were expensive and were not an immediate success, partly because at the time it was more common to send cards at New Year. It would be more than 30 years before sending Christmas cards became more common. This happened as the focus shifted to celebrating Christmas rather than New Year at least in England. Cheaper printing processes also began to make the practice of sending cards more affordable.
In the early years many of the cards would not have the images on them which we now associate with Christmas. This is because many of the traditions which we take for granted were just beginning.