First World War Christmas cards

Handmade Christmas cards sent from First World War soldiers to loved ones back home are to feature in a major exhibition due to open to the public next year.

A Christmas card from the First World War

Handmade Christmas cards sent from First World War soldiers to loved ones back home are to feature in a major exhibition due to open to the public next year.

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The embroidered cards, known as WWI Silks, were made as souvenirs to be sold to soldiers. The embroidery was generally carried out by French or Belgian women working either in their own homes or in refugee camps.

Many of the cards include personal messages to family back home.

The cards are being catalogued by York Castle Museum in preparation for the major exhibition 1914: When the World Changed Forever, which opens on 28 June next year. The cards are not dated, so it is not known which year of the conflict they originate from.

Dr Faye Prior, collections facilitator at York Castle Museum, said: “We have many of these hand embroidered cards in our collection and each one offers us a very personal and often moving message from soldiers wishing their family a Merry Christmas.

“Thousands of cards similar to these were hand made by women to sell to troops and many show scenes we do not necessarily associate with Christmas today, such as swallows, flowers and boats. It was only later that the trend towards winter scenes, Christmas trees and Father Christmas began to dominate Christmas cards like they do today.”

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(All images © York Museums Trust)

A Christmas card from the First World War
A Christmas card from the First World War
A Christmas card from the First World War
A Christmas card from the First World War
A Christmas card from the First World War
A Christmas card from the First World War
A Christmas card from the First World War
A Christmas card from the First World War