Drayton Hall diamonds

Drayton Hall diamonds

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

"C" Is For Calling Card

Once upon a time, it was a part of everyday life for "fashionable" people to always have calling cards. The first known calling cards go back to China in the 15th Century. They were introduced to French nobility in the 17th Century and by the early 1800's England and much of Europe had embraced the use of cards by upper class citizens and high ranking officials.
There was a very structured deliverance involved when presenting one's card. The presenter would wait outside in the carriage as the card was delivered to the house butler. The recipient would respond in kind a few days later and then a person-to-person meeting would be arranged. If the original presenter received the return card in an envelope or worse yet, no reply at all, no further contact would be attempted (and presumably, the optimistic hopes of the socialite would be dashed!) 
A card could be presented with any of a number of abbreviated French phrases written discreetly in a corner. Depending on the type of visit, the letters "p.c." - pour condoleance (condolence call)  "p.r." - pour remercier (thanks) or "p.f." - pour feliciter (congratulations)
Of course, Victorians, being the proper people they were, had to carry something decorative to hold the cards.
For more fascinating history about calling cards visit Days Of Elegance.
One of the wedding gifts we received from my husband's Australian side of the family was this sweet silver calling card tray.
It has moved with us for close to 45 years, each new Army base location, each new apartment and home. As a new bride, I faithfully read my copy of The Army Wife (circa 1966) and realized even then, the old traditions of military protocol were disappearing for officer's and their wives. The tray received little if any use other than decoration and keeping it polished. Perhaps an embassy assignment might have dictated different rules...but we were happy to be in a more casual setting at military bases throughout the South & most of the time was spent in coping with year long separations and having a husband who was a pilot. 

The tray's purpose has long been set aside and now sits on my night table next to the bed. It holds a little pillbox collection and a small framed photo of our son at the age of two. 

Cards of today - whether business or personal, have taken on an informal look - Mr. Outback quickly printed up his own take on cards shortly after retirement. And our son, Dave, has these unique cards printed by the hundreds for distribution to potential clients. His own images on one side and website on the other.

These are a few of my vintage calling cards - don't you love the graceful script and the feathered edges? 

 With today's faster than a blink of the eye communication, it is difficult to understand the pace and style of living 100+ years ago. Great emphasis was placed on manners and social niceties. While we would probably not want to return to some of the stricter observances, it would be lovely to gain back common everyday courtesies and pleasant greetings.
"C" is for Calling Card and I am participating in Alphabe-Thursday. Drop by Jenny Matlock's and leave your very own calling card at all the other "C" postings!


Rocky Mountain Woman said...

I ran into a cute couple on a golf course one time and when we were leaving, they handed me their calling card. It was darling, it just had their names, a pic of a golf cart and it said "Jen and Jon, ready to go anywhere for a game of golf...and their phone number.

cute, huh?

Personalized Sketches and Sentiments said...

OH! What a wonderful post! It was great to learn more about the use of calling cards... Earlier in my husband's career, I remember going to a Commander's Open house event and leaving a calling card. ...but then throughout the years, most often it was a signature left in a guest book...

I love the carrying case and the silver calling card tray you shared here.

Blessings & Aloha!

Mary said...

I love the sentiment & tradition behind calling cards~ Love your sweet collection of vintage ones!

JCnNC said...

Always love reading your post as you most often enlighten all of us of the "order of the day." Loved reading about the calling cards. Have a wonderful Mother's Day weekend, Pat. Judy C

EG Wow said...

The "times they are a-changing", that's for sure. You have an interesting collection of calling cards.

The Paper Princess said...

I am visiting for the first time from Jenny's blog and really enjoyed your post! I have always loved calling cards and enjoyed reading about their history. I hope you'll join me over at Create With Joy and read about my latest CAT-ASTROPHE!

Have a fabulous week!


Jenny said...

What a fascinating stop. I know OF calling cards but not much about them!

Your collection is absolutely fascinating.

This week is starting off wonderfully.

Thanks for being a big part of that


Teresa said...

What a great post! I love history and genealogy, so of course I love the calling cards.

JDaniel4's Mom said...

Calling cards are big right now with stay at home moms.

storybeader said...

I love those books and old movies, where the calling card is used. But that was a time ago... Didn't know the practice originated in China! {:-D

Carrie P. said...

Fascinating! Thanks for sharing the history and some of your own cards. They are so pretty.

Theresa said...

I agree - it would be lovely! So enjoyed your post for Alphabe-T and love your calling cards:)

ellen b said...

Love this post! The history, the customs, the wonderful vintage cards...love it all. My daughter just became a Marine wife and she has done a lot of reading up about everything military. Have a great weekend!

Jingle said...

cute cards.

love these beautiful reminders.
bless you.

Happy Mother's Day.

RNSANE said...

I always have cards with me. It's so nice to have them instead of scribbling a phone number on a sheet of paper when meeting new friends and it's less likely to get lost. I print them, actually, with my photo on them. I always end up going through cards at the end of a cruise and wonder, "Now, just who was that person?" Having a photo helps so much!

Ames said...

Calling cards can still be useful if someone asks for your address. I always carry address labels if someone should ask for my address. Lord knows I have a ton of them. Might as well make use of them.~Ames

Mari's World said...

That is a really sweet post and I think your cards are adorable. You have also reminded me to get my own cards sorted out for a conference I'm due at in July! If I don't do it now it will slip my mind

criticalcrass said...

i like this post! thanks for sharing. :]

pataksag said...

I still have my small album of calling cards exchanged with classmates our senior year of high school. Each card lists our full name, each in a lovely script!(Class of 1966)

Lola said...

Wonderful post!

Apologies. Bit late again this week - been so busy lately!

Thank you so much for stopping by and look forward to *seeing* you again soon.

Hope you have a good weekend,

XOXO Lola )

Pomona said...

I love those cards - I had never seen any originals. Leonore Davidoff wrote a wonderful, informative book on Victorian etiquette, and she talks about this sort of thing: I don't know if you have read it, but I think you would find it very interesting.

Pomona x

Richard Cottrell said...

Hi, I just became your latest follower. Thanks for stopping by my blog. Richard at My Old Historic House

Kathie said...

I love calling cards, great post!
I find them at antique stores and always think about the women whose cards they were, wanting to know more of course!