Saturday, April 2, 2011

Victorian Calling Cards

In the day of genteel manners and formal introductions, the exchange of calling cards was a social custom that was essential in developing friendships.  

The custom of carrying calling or visiting cards began in the early 1800's.  Calling cards were left at each persons home the individual went to visit, whether they were home or not.  The person visiting would typically either leave their card in a "card receiver" which was set on an entry table in the foyer or on a parlor table.

There were many different styles of calling cards. Early calling cards were created one at a time by a skilled penman.  Each card displayed the bearer's name written in calligraphy with a bit of flourishing.  Doves, wheat, and flowers were commonly added as ornamentation on these early cards.  On each of these cards, the pen was held perfectly still while the card itself was rotated.  This cherished and highly skilled craft of calligraphy and embellishment of that era is unsurpassed today.

The two cards above were from families in the Sullivan, Ky area.  The top one is James F. Seely, and the bottom one Herman E. Nesbitt.

This calling card was known as an Envelope Card.  The tiny envelope attached to the card has the word Affection on it, and when you lift it up it says "From John to Alice.  Jan. 3, 1882,"  It must have been a special little card for someone those many years ago.

Here are some more examples of the early calling cards with Doves and Flowers added as ornamentation.

The two belong offer "Good Luck" wishes from Virgil O. Nesbitt  and perhaps some wishful thinking as "You Have The Key  To My Heart" imprinted on the other.                                                             
With the development of early penny post cards around the turn-of-the-twentieth century, visiting became less common and the postcard era began.

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