Posted on Nov 30, 2023Read on

[Thursday Thoughties] Hallmark Cards

Tis the season for Xmas movies on the Hallmark Channel.

The above may be the most unexpected phrase to be uttered onchain this year (at least by me lmfao). But trust me, there’s a crypto connection baked in there - just let me cook for a second.

I’m not sure exactly when I first took notice, it may have been on a long winter semester home with the family outside of Philly a year or so after starting university in Seoul, but at a certain point in his life, every year around Xmas time my father started to binge watch Xmas movies on the Hallmark Channel. Like all the time.

Of course, I thought it a bit odd, at first, but truth be told those movies are lowkey addicting. They’re pure as snow - no cursing, idyllic Xmas atmosphere, predictably entertaining in an endearingly cheesy sort of way.

Fast forward to Thanksgiving break last week.

After my wife and I put our daughter to bed on Thanksgiving day eve, we were lounging on the sofa perusing the tv guide on tv when what do I see? Two Hallmark Channels chock full of Xmas movies. So, we watch a movie that had just started. Then another. And I thought, “Damn, I could watch this with my daughter and not worry about her seeing or hearing anything terrible.”

Next thought was, “I wonder if I could buy some stock or invest in Hallmark somehow?”

A couple of clicks later I saw that Hallmark Media (the subsidiary of Hallmark Cards that handles the tv-side of things) and its parent company Hallmark Cards were both privately owned. Based in Kansas City they grossed $5B - with a B - in 2020. Damn. Who’d of thought?

So, I dug into Hallmark Cards a little more. Founded in 1910, they originally rode the latter end of the boom around postcards. You read that right - postcards.

Postcards experienced a bit of a global golden age from the latter part of the 19th century until around 1915 thanks, in large part, to a speculative boom based on the collective belief in their collectibility as souvenirs. Postcards emerged at a time when postal delivery efficiencies unlocked rapid delivery even to remote parts of the country-side, but also thanks to advances in photography, printing, and mass production, folks were simply enthralled with all of the novel images on high-quality paper sprinkled with sentimental value derived from the fact that an acquaintance took the time to write something heartfelt on something beautiful they spent money on.

After the postcard boom waned a few short years later, Hallmark pivoted to greeting cards beginning with “Christmas cards” - that’s where the Xmas connection and Hallmark began. Quickly they expanded supplying greeting cards for all occasions around the nation and then internationally very shortly after. A decade or so later, they arguably invented Christmas wrapping paper - I kid you not. Fast forward to the 80’s and they acquired Crayola. Crayola!

Hallmark Cards has run an incredible business and made epic business decision after epic business decision for over 110 years. In an age when print-anything is seen as dead or soon-to-be-dead, Hallmark remains unfazed, moisturized, in their lane, and criminally (imo) under the radar.

But let me get to the crypto connection before this gets too long.

Looking at the history of postcards, specifically their emergence and early boom around their speculative collectibility thanks to very specific communication-related technological developments, it’s hard not to think of parallels with NFTs and the blockchain.

NFTs are like postcards in that they are associated with images, thanks to the 6551 standard have the ability to hold other valuable digital assets (like Christmas cards are synonymous with holding cash), they continue to grow in popularity largely due to a speculative fueled hype cycle, and they are INSANELY easy to send and receive.

All that’s to say, when Christmas NFT Cards?

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Cover Image: Chronophotograph 131 by 0xDEAFBEEF

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