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Friday, September 11

Victorian Calling Cards

As many of my readers know, I enjoy collecting postcards and paper memorabilia. Today I was searching online and found out a bit more about calling cards. These cards were used in the Victorian era. If you visited someone, you left your calling card. Here are a few examples and a bit of information on these delightful cards.







When visiting friends, or "making calls," people would leave a card at the front door or parlor, even if the person they were visiting was home. They were used as a reminder about who had visited recently and deserved a visit in turn. Sometimes a loving greeting was added, though the card alone was considered a message.


It was considered a "red-letter day," a term that originated with the tradition of marking holy days in a church calendar in red, when a young "maid" or man was granted his or her first visiting card. As for babies whose cards were sent out by their parents, theirs was "the tiniest and daintiest of cards, fit for fairies!" according to one Victorian Lady, Margaret Sangster, in her etiquette book entitled Good Manners For All Occasions.


The fashions of calling cards varied with the trends; sometimes middle initials were fashionable, other times not; some cards were ornate, while others were of a "severe style," particularly for the gentlemen.


In the book Decorum, published in 1877, the following recommendations were made for refined visiting card etiquette: "Visitors should furnish themselves with cards. Gentlemen ought simply to put their cards into their pocket, but ladies may carry them in a small elegant portfolio, called a card-case. This they can hold in their hand and it will contribute essentially (with an elegant handkerchief of embroidered cambric) to give an air of good taste."

I'm always interested in learning about customs of days gone by. I would love to collect these beautiful cards, but have never seen any that were in reasonably good condition that were priced within my budget. Still, I enjoy seeing them and wondering about the person who had left their card in the parlor of a friend or aquaintance.

I wish everyone a great weekend.

15 comments:

  1. What lovely calling cards.

    God bless.

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  2. I've heard of calling cards, but never knew the information you shared here. Very interesting. The cards are beautiful. I love hearing about the old traditions also.

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  3. What a lost art.The closest thing to clalling card now are the business card of different professions.

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  4. I didn't KNOW that about the 'red letter day'. I learned something, thanks to you.
    Interesting post once again Mary.

    Have a glorious Saturday.

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  5. My first thought is to order some calling cards but my second thought is "Who goes calling on folks these days?"

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  6. I hope you have a good weekend too. Those are beautiful cards Mary.

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  7. It was a weird but fascinating era.

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  8. I think it was a lovely tradition and wish we still did such things. Of course these days it seems so much is done by computer or voice mail....
    How sad that we stopped doing something so gracious and beautiful!

    I think I have one of these cards someplace. I'm not sure where it came from, probably one of my grandma's.

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  9. Back here in BlogLand just in time to see such beautiful calling cards. Thanks for sharing and enjoy your weekend.

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  10. No doubt this is where the business card originated. It is interesting that the caller didn't necessarily see the person they left the card for but the fact they had been by was important.
    Mama Bear

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  11. So neat...I had never heard of this!

    Have a great weekend

    Love, Jess

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  12. Interesting details Mary-and the cards are lovely too.

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  13. Mary, Kelli did a post about calling cards on Friday for show&tell.
    Mama Bear

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  14. So many traditions from days gone by that I wish they would bring back! Those calling cards were so beautiful and I can imagine the smiles they brought to the person they were left for:-) xoxo

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