Throwback Thursday: Calling Cards

"To the unrefined or underbred, the visiting card is but a trifling & insignificant bit of paper; but to the cultured disciple of social law, it conveys a subtle & unmistakable intelligence. Its texture, style of engraving, & even the hour of leaving it combine to place the stranger, whose name it bears, in a pleasant or a disagreeable attitude, even before his manners, conversation & face have been able to explain his social position." -John H. Young, 1879

We've got some great new modern-day calling cards in the store right now & after doing a little research on the history of this social tradition, we just had to share what we found out. Calling cards were mostly popular during the Georgian, Regency, & Victorian eras, & they were used when a gentleman or lady wished to call upon friends or acquaintances, or to announce their presence in town. They were generally quite simple, in a lady's case, bearing only her name, & in a gentleman's case, only his name & address. Men's cards were typically slightly slimmer than women's as they had to carry the cards around in their breast pocket. The blank space on the cards was often used for written notes or to invite the recipient to a social event. Cards were also often initialed or had a specific corner folded down to signify something.

The turning down of the card’s corners:

  • A visit in person (as opposed to being sent by a servant): the right hand upper corner
  • A congratulatory visit: the left hand upper corner
  • A condolence visit: the left hand lower corner
  • Taking leave (if you were going on a long trip): right hand lower corner
  • If there were two of more ladies in the household, the gentleman turned down a corner of the card to indicate that the call was designed for the whole family.

Initialing a calling card:
(The initials stood for French words)

  • p. f. – congratulations (pour féliciter)
  • p. r. – expressing one’s thanks (pour remercier)
  • p. c. – mourning expression (pour condoléance)
  • p. f. N. A. – Happy New Year (pour feliciter Nouvel An)
  • p. p. c. – meaning to take leave (pour prendre congé)
  • p. p. – if you want to be introduced to anybody, send your visiting card (pour présenter)

We are just absolutely taken by the idea of this social tradition from the past & we would love to see it catch on again! So come on by the store & peruse our collection of calling cards so you too can become a proper lady or gentleman of society! ;)

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