Hallmark wraps up 100 years of giftwrap

One of Hallmark’s original tissue paper designs from a century ago.
One of Hallmark’s original tissue paper designs from a century ago.

Hallmark has pulled out all the stops for its new giftwrap collection, and with good reason – as the range marks the 100th anniversary since the company invented giftwrap as we know it.

The company is credited with founding the modern-day gift wrap industry in Kansas City during the Christmas season in 1917.

Part of Hallmark’s new floral range that launches in January.
Part of Hallmark’s new floral range that launches in January.

Hallmark has just sent out goody boxes of giftwrap to multiple retail customers to fanfare a new collection, which launches officially in January to celebrate the 100th anniversary of giftwrap. The new everyday range has a reenergised creative direction covering all occasions, with female, male and juvenile designs. The foiling, flittering and funky designs have come a long way since a then ‘new card publisher’ and retailer found themselves with an unfortunate ‘out of stock’ situation which called for an entrepreneurial solution.

It’s quite something to think that Hallmark invented giftwrap 100 years ago.
It’s quite something to think that Hallmark invented giftwrap 100 years ago.

“Giftwrap, or gift dressing as it was called, in the early 20th century was very simple,” reveals Samantha Bradbeer, historian of Hallmark Cards. “People often used brown packaging paper or newspaper to wrap their gifts. Retailers, like Hallmark, sold green, red or white tissue paper, and if there were designs, they were simple festive icons such as holly or wreaths.”

A ‘goody box’ containing some samples of the new range.
A ‘goody box’ containing some samples of the new range.

However in the run up to Christmas in 1917, Hallmark sold out of the traditional tissue paper at its Halls store in the heart of Kansas City in America.  So, Hallmark Founder J.C. Hall’s older brother searched the company’s manufacturing office and found some recently imported French envelope liners that were brightly coloured and highly stylised. The company then sold these liners as giftwrap for 10 cents apiece (for five sheets) and quickly sold out. The following year, Halls stocked up heavily and sold out once again.

The new collection covers all occasions.
The new collection covers all occasions.

The brothers knew they had a hit on their hands, so they began designing and manufacturing their own giftwrap shortly thereafter. This means that giftwrap was the first diversification from Hallmark outside of greeting cards.

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