The custom of sending Christmas card is said to have originated in 1843 with Sir Henry Cole, a civil servant, who wanted to promote the new ‘Public Post Office.’ He arranged for his artist friend, John Horsley to design a card. Two batches totaling 2,050 cards were printed and sold that year for a shilling each. Royal Naval Christmas cards were not far behind. John MacFarlane in Nauticapedia has a fine selection of Christmas cards from Royal Navy ships. He writes:
The sending of Christmas cards to express seasonal greetings is a relatively new tradition but naval personnel have been sending these cards for more than 100 years. Many ships of the Royal Navy and commonwealth navies produced custom designed cards to reflect their ship’s identity.