calling cards

It was a necessity among the upper classes in the past to have calling cards for when one visited another's home during their stated hours "at home". You would arrive during the time and on the day that they were at home to receive guests, drink some tea or lemonade, eat a cookie or cracker, talk about acceptable, bland topics for 20 minutes and then go to your next house for a similar visit. If they were not there, you would leave your card. If you returned and they still were not there, you could bend the card in certain places and ways to indicate how many times you visited or how you wished them to respond, and how quickly. Ladies had cards, gentlemen had cards, and married couples had cards. It was an established social tradition so you would get to know people in your social and economic level. This led to friendships, marriages, and business deals. Popular people had baskets by the front door which overflowed with cards left by visitors. A good butler knew how to receive your card and sort those received for his/her employer. Heaven help you if you were ill mannered enough to forget your cards! Some of these cards incorporate good wishes or a prayer. You could also leave a handwritten brief note on the back.

Business cards are similar, but were for the working man or woman to advertise his/her professional, skills, and business including degrees, address, or later phone number.

Here are some examples Brian found in the Victoria Brehm family collection.
pretty blank cards, no names

Bliss family calling cards

Campbell family calling cards

Davenport family calling cards

Wells family calling cards

Plainer, cheaper, earlier calling cards with name handwritten on it (bottom), or printed on it (top)


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