Today is Epiphany, the day on which we remember the visit of the Magi, and the traditional date for present giving. People have been giving and receiving presents at Christmas for centuries, but it was during the revival of the celebrations at the beginning of the nineteenth century that people came up with a novel idea – make something just intended to be a Christmas present.
The ones that are easily identifiable are books, such as this;
clearly labelled as ‘A Christmas and New Year’s Present for 1826’. It contains stories and poems,
Including, of course, ghost stories.
My next, from six year later, is a collection of comic stories and poems.
Illustrated with punning illustrations and some rather good jokes about the Great Reform Act.
Before my final Christmas Book, here is a Victorian Christmas card from the collection I mentioned in my previous blog.
Showing someone delivering Christmas presents. Also from the collection are examples of another minor Victorian Christmas invention, gift tags!
Now for the last book, a beautifully illustrated volume ‘Christmas with the Poets’ which was given as a present as it has the inscription ‘From Miss Millicent Brady to Miss Ada Stephens Christmas 1849′.
And now for the sting in the tale.
The book had been on my shelves for some time when I noticed how bright the cover was compared with other books of the same period. I knew what the Victorians had used to make high quality green dye, so I had the book tested. The cover contains enough arsenic to kill a man!