Wrapping Paper and Gifts: The Story Behind It

wrapping paperThere is nothing new about wanting to surprise a friend or family member with the gift you have chosen…but it used to be much harder to wrap these gifts.

Until the 1890s, the technology had not yet been invented to mass produce decorative paper. If people wanted the element of surprise with a gift, they used sturdy brown paper or tissue paper.  At the holidays, stores carried red, white, and green tissue paper for wrapping.

In December 1917 a greeting card store in Kansas City, Missouri run by two brothers by the name of Hall sold out of all the tissue paper they had in stock.  Not wanting to lose sales, Rollie Hall went to the stockroom to see what else they had on hand. He spotted some decorated envelope liners so he brought the decorative paper into the store and sold it for 10 cents per sheet.

The next year the Hall Brothers again offered the decorative paper, this time priced at three sheets for 25 cents.  And of course, with the repeat sales of decorative paper, thus was the wrapping paper product line of the well-known company Hallmark born.

However, because tape had not yet been invented, gift coverings were held together using string, ribbon, or sealing wax. At some point someone came up with sticky circles that were sold in packets and could be affixed to hold two edges of paper together. (3M invented masking tape in the 1920s but it wasn’t until 1930 that a satisfactory method to create cellophane tape was invented.)

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