Only 1,000 of these cards were printed and sold. At a shilling each they represented a luxury item at the time.By the 1870s the cost of sending Christmas cards, had dropped to half a penny, establishing them as popular tradition.One of the original cards, sent by Sir Henry Cole to his grandmother in 1843, was sold at auction in Devizes, Wiltshire for £20,000 in November 2001 – making it the most expensive Christmas card on record. Everyone predicted the end of the greetings card, but it’s the one area of print communication that proved extremely resilient.Sharon Little, chief executive of the Greetings Card Association The world’s first commercial Christmas card, commissioned by Sir Henry Cole and designed by John C Horsley, goes on display at the Ironbridge Gorge Museum in Telford, Shropshire, in 2011Credit:NTI Media Ltd / Rex Features A Gibson Doyle card retailing for £16.95 each When it came to Christmas greetings it used to be a case of picking a card from a charity multi-pack and jotting a quick festive message.But people are increasingly willing to spend considerably more on individual cards, choosing to buy fancier, more fashionable and altogether more expensive cards to send to a loved one.It appears that in an era when traditional handwritten letters are in decline the novelty of receiving a personal Christmas card has become all the more welcome. Festive cards at Harrods retail for as much as £24.95 for six (£4.15 each), or even £42.95 for eight (£5.36 each), while a set of Katie Leamon’s 12 days of Christmas cards sells for £25 at Harvey Nichols.On top of that is the continued desire for a personalised, handwritten message which can be hung on a mantlepiece, rather than an impersonal email which can be deleted with the press of a button.A study by the Royal Mail this month has found that 72 per cent of people who celebrate Christmas would prefer to receive printed cards.Only six per cent would rather get a festive greeting via social media and 10 per cent via text.Indeed more than 60 percent of people questioned still keep addresses and postcodes of friends and relatives written down in a physical address book.Mrs Little said: “Sending and receiving a greetings card is still a prized form of communication. There’s an emotional connection between people by something that is handwritten and expresses a personal message.“Furthermore a Christmas card can be hung up and re-read over the festive period, brightening up a house in a way an easily deleted email simply can’t.”Christmas Cards: A brief historyThe habit of sending festive greetings dates as far back as the Middle Ages, when worshippers began distributing wood prints with religious themes at Christmas.The custom of sending Christmas cards as we know them today took off in Britain from the 1840s onwards, when the first “Penny Post” postal deliveries began where launched.Indeed the first Christmas card was commissioned in 1843 by Sir Henry Cole, who had helped to introduce the Penny Post service three years earlier. It was designed by John Horsley to be printed and then hand-coloured, either by the sender or receiver. Latest figures show that 105 million individually sold cards have been bought this year and although that number has remained the same the amount spent on each card has gone up.UK consumers have spent £184 million on 105 million individual cards this year, £15 million more than in 2015, according to the Greetings Card Association.And despite the long-heralded death of the Christmas card in the face of e-mailed greetings and postings on social media, the total number of cards, individual and multi-pack, sold this year has dropped by only 10 million ( 0.01 per cent) to 1.05 billion.The GCA estimates the total value of UK Christmas card sales this year to be worth £384 million.Sharon Little, chief executive of the GCA, said: “People are sending slightly fewer cards but are spending more on the ones they are sending to family and close friends.“Everyone predicted the end of the greetings card because of the fashion for digital. But it’s the one area of print communication that proved extremely resilient.”Industry experts put this down to a vogue for more personalised or bespoke Christmas cards, hand made by small-scale artists and frequently sold through high end stationers and department stores.The online handmade card retailer Gibson Doyle sells a range of individual Christmas cards for as much as £18.95 each. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.