From the Hangars

Christmas Edition Donation Spotlight: Mamie Dunston

Dec 22, 2022


Greetings card, designed by John Callcott Horsley for Sir Henry Cole, 1843

The year was 1843 and Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" was soon to published when the Englishman Sir Henry Cole fretted over a stack of holiday letters that needed response. Amidst his dread of carpal tunnel Cole had an "Aha" moment that revolutionized the way family and friends keep in touch over the holidays and eventually inspired Hallmark and others to infiltrate North American mailboxes from the early 1900s to the present day.  

Three Little Angels Hallmark Card

Three Little Angels Hallmark Greeting card, 1977. Regarded as the best selling Christmas card of all time.

Eureka! The holiday Christmas card... Rewriting hundreds of long letters to friends was now a thing of the past. Arthritis shmarthritis. The ability to print a uniform holiday greeting changed the game and the world hasn't looked back.

Delta card 1954

Delta Air Lines Christmas Greeting Card, 1954

The invention of the Christmas/Holiday Greeting card also allowed corporations, including airlines, to share some holiday spirit with their employees and customers. Brought to us by museum donor Frank Wrenn, we recently were delighted to receive many Christmas Greeting Cards from the collection of Mamie Dunston, niece of Charles Graddick. Graddick was a former Superintendent of U.S. Air Mail and later the Director of Air Cargo for United Air Lines. As one of the earliest proponents of air freight and air mail he received holiday greeting from many airlines and aviation companies. Below are some of the cards from the Delta family of airlines he received. 

First a couple from Delta...

The first is from 1941 and signed by Delta Air Lines founder C.E. Woolman. It's a classic with a wintry landscape and DC-3 and "Season's Greetings from Delta Air Lines the Trans-Southern Route."


Delta Card


Delta Card, 1941

Delta Air Lines Christmas Greeting Card signed by C.E. Woolman, 1941

The next card is also signed by C.E. Woolman. It celebrates the end of World War 2 and pictures a soldier returning home with gifts in front of a DC-3 and "This Year Especially a Very Merry Christmas, Delta Air Lines."


Delta Card 1940s


Delta Card 1945

Delta Air Lines Christmas Greeting Card signed by Founder C.E. Woolman, 1945

The next two cards were sent from Northwest Airlines to Graddick in the 1940s...

The first is a vertical card with a winter landscape with a NWA DC-3 flying overhead, and "Best Wishes to All." The landscape continues into the interior of the card showing a snow covered airport and planes flying overhead with the greeting "At This ChristmasTime We Extend Best Wishes for a Merry Yuletide and Our Hope for Many, Many Happy Landings in the Years to Come." 


Northwest card


NWA card 1940s

Northwest Airlines Christmas Greeting Card, 1940s

The next Northwest card showcases their pioneering spirit. It shows a wagon train fording a river with a silver silhouette of an aircraft overhead and the message, "Greetings from Northwest Airlines, Pioneers in Air Travel." Inside the card reads, "Merry Christmas and Happy New Year" bookended by a NWA logo and holly branches. 


NWA Pioneers


NWA 1941 Card

Northwest Airlines Christmas Greeting Card, 1941

Finally, two from Pan Am...

The front of the first represents the airline's international flare with a map, charting compass, a pilot's cap, and bag tags labeled to various countries with traditional holiday greetings in their languages.  On the inside a message on the opposite side of the bag tag states, "We're Hoping You're 'On Course' to a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Pan American Airways System." 


Pan Am Holiday Card


Pan Am Holiday Card 2

Pan American Airways Christmas Greeting Card, 1941

Pan American's card from 1942 presents a "Then and Now" theme. On the front is a reproduction of a world map circa 1571 from the American Geographical Society's collection. Inside is an image of a Pan Am Clipper and a global route map with the greeting, "Just as Our Old Old World is Ever New...So May Our Ancient Faith Its Hope Renew...This Christmas Day! Peace on Earth - to Men of Good Will. Pan American World Airways."


Pan Am Holiday Card 3


Pan Am Holiday Card 4

Pan American World Airways Christmas Greeting Card, 1942

We are so thankful to Maimie Dunston for sending this collection through Mr. Wrenn. It truly is a joy to preserve her uncle's aviation legacy and Delta's holiday history by way of this Christmas Greeting card collection. If you are interested in seeing more cards from other airlines and other companies please read Wrenn's blog post from this time last year. You can find it by clicking this link.

From the Delta Flight Museum, Happy Holidays everyone! Stay safe and warm!


Austin Vallejos-Coleman


1 comment

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  1. Sharon | Dec 23, 2022

    I love the history lesson here about Christmas cards. When working for Delta, I’d send airplane  themed cards bought at the company store. I always got nice compliments. 


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