On 25 October 1916, Sapper T O’Halloran 2711 sent this card from France to his wife in Castlemaine in Victoria, no doubt hoping that two months was sufficient time for military and ordinary postal systems to ensure it arrived before Christmas Day. The item is out of copyright and was a gift to the State Library of Victoria from Misses Josie and Molly O’Halloran in 1976.
John Sands was a young man when he arrived in the colony with a level of ambition that matched the volume of stationery he brought with him to set up an engraving and stationery business. Here’s a chronology of the business and how it developed and changed from the 1830s to now.
The Australian Dictionary of Biography provides details of his life and refers to the production of the first Australian themed Christmas cards by the company.
In 1881 the Sydney firm, known as John Sands Ltd, offered one of the first groups of Christmas and New Year cards in Australia: the first card, at a price of 1s. 3d., was listed as ‘Little girl offering a Christmas pudding to Swagsman’.
The Canberra Times ran a lengthy feature article on the history of Christmas cards in December 1975. Some of the lithographs produced by John Sands are in the Pictures collection of the National Library of Australia.