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Birthday Card History
Birthday Card History is said to be over a hundred years old. Though there is no record to tell us who send or received the first birthday card but it said the tradition of sending Birthday Cards began in England a century ago. In those time people used to personally greet a person on a birthday, but when a well-wisher was unable to do so he send a Birthday Card. Thus Birthday cards were more like an apology at that time.

History of Greeting Cards
History of Greeting Cards can be traced back to the ancient Chinese who are said to have started the tradition of sending goodwill messages on a New Year. Early Egyptians too are believed to have made used papyrus scrolls to convey greetings to dear ones. During early 1400 the tradition of exchanging handmade paper greeting cards developed in Europe while Germans at that time are known to have printed New Year’s greetings from woodcuts

The advancement in printing technology and mechanization besides introduction of postage stamps in 1850s helped to make greeting cards more affordable. No wonder, they soon became popular means of personal communication.

However, credit for the start of Greeting Card industry in US is given to Louis Prang, a German immigrant who started a small lithographic business near Boston in 1856. Prang perfected printing over a decade and in early 1870s, he published deluxe editions of Christmas cards that became an instant hit in England. US Card Industry saw a slump in 1890 and 1906 but soon after 1906, the situation improved and a number of leading card producers of today were founded. Now the cards played on sentimentality and were quite unlike Prang’s elaborate creations.

Increased competition during World War I improved printing process. Early 1930s saw the use of color lithography. The move lead to an unprecedented growth in US Card industry. 1950s saw the entry of humor in cards with the creation of studio cards that were long cards with a short punch line. During 1980s non-event cards or the cards not made for any particular occasion began popular and helped card industry reach a new high.

Birthday E-Cards
Greeting Cards have taken a new avatar in this present age of Internet technology. Today, they are being increasingly exchanged as electronic or e-greeting cards. Advancement in the technology that began in 1990s has lead to a further growth in card industry. People find it easier to send e-cards, as they are a cost effective and instantaneous means of exchanging greetings. E-cards are available for Birthdays, anniversary, Christmas and a host of other occasions. Use of Java and Flash makes them humorous. One can also personalize E-Cards that is available for Free at most e-cards sites.

Greeting Card Industry
Greeting Card Industry is burgeoning today. Concept on non-event casual greeting card has further lead to the growth in the industry. US Card Industry was valued at $7.5 billion in 2004 based on total unit sales of 7 billion greeting cards for the year. The industry reported a sales growth rate of 8.7% between 1999 and 2004. However, Birthday Cards alone are estimated to constitute 60 % of the total annual cards sales followed by anniversary with 8 % of the sale.

Though greeting cards made their advent in India much after they appeared in US, Indian Card Industry has picked up fast. At present the industry is estimated to be around Rs 250 crore in terms of yearly consumer spend. Unorganized sector takes 40 % of the market share. The organized 60 % of the market is divided between Archies, Hallmark and ITC.

Significance of Birthday Cards
Birthday Cards are an important means of communicating good wishes and love to a person. They carry a personal touch that makes them endearing and very special. Emotionally charged cards help to convey feelings of love that most people find difficult to express.

To cater to the growing and varied demand card manufacturers make multitude of designer cards to depict variety of emotions from sentimental to humorous. Success of regional language cards in multi-linguistic societies such as India point towards the significant role greeting cards play in our lives today.

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