SOUTH AFRICA’S WARM GREETING CARD TRADITION      By Deborah Painter

Easter will soon be here, and although it is not the enormous greeting card holiday that Valentine’s Day and Christmas have become, it still inspires many greeting cards.  Greeting cards date back to 1843 when the first Christmas cards were published in Great Britain.  The sending of cards became a favorite tradition in many countries. South Africans wanted ways to communicate with relatives and friends without writing lengthy letters each time.  Many also wanted cards in Afrikaans.  The American Printing Works, Limited was an early company engaged in greeting card production and was located at Plein and Spin Streets in Cape Town.   One of their unusual three dimensional cards was one that consisted of metal coated painted leaves.

 

German cards were popular in South Africa in the 1930s.

German cards and cards from the United States were imported to keep up with demand.  Christian Publishing Company was founded in 1939 to meet the need for cards printed in South Africa.  It was in 1977 that the company opened its first retail outlet. Later Christian Publishing Company changed its name to South Africa Greetings (PTY) Ltd.  The Cardies chain soon after began to thrive all over the country.  American Greetings, a company headquartered in the United States, acquired the company in 1996, but the company still operates under the name South Africa Greetings (PTY) Ltd.

Prick and Stitch is a small South African company that creates hand embroidered greeting cards.  They are a hybrid of card and gift.

South African entrepreneurs are opening up their own greeting card companies to this day.  Far from obsolete in the digital era, greeting cards are fun and do not show any sign of being less desired.  They demonstrate that the person who sent them took the time to shop for a physical card, write something inside, address the card, affix a stamp and place it in the post.  Many people feel that this is better than a digital greeting which will be erased.

 

Suggestions for Further Reading

Hoover, Gary.  1999.  Hoover’s Handbook of American Business, Volume 1.  Reference Press, Incorporated.