James H. Irvine (1867-1947) liked to be in charge of things.

Very little left the Irvine Ranch without his fingerprints; including the annual Irvine Family Christmas cards.

So poetry wasn’t his strong suit. 

You have to admire the effort of an extremely busy man who felt the need to personally express himself through this annual greeting to his friends and colleagues.

These Christmas cards are not only historically valuable, but they also give an insight into the personality of their creator.

For instance, in 1942, when the government forced him to sell his most productive lima bean field to make way for the El Toro Marine Base, James Irvine voiced his disapproval.

The card reads:

Forty Thousand bags like these, to grow again we never can,

The Navy grabbed our farming land, selected by their smartest man,

We have no cream, the dairy herds are going to the slaughter pen,

Does this make sense….the Draft Boards grab our farming men.

The Christmas cards tell the story of the Irvine Ranch

They share a glimpse into Irvine Family life.

Through his Christmas cards, James Irvine proudly shows  some of the unique operations on the Ranch. For instance, the salt works in Newport Back Bay.


Every card with his signature poetic style….

Personally, I’m grateful that Mr. Irvine felt compelled to create his own personal Christmas cards.

They allow me to appreciate his sense of humor and his love for his land. 

For a man who I only see in silent, black and white photographs, they let me hear his voice.

(images courtesy of Katie Wheeler Library Collection)