Business Card History
IV. Calling Card Etiquette, 18-19th centuries
was a somewhat ritualized version of the fine old custom of
"visiting". There were certain fixed rules laid down by society
which might apply to a resident in a small town with the same
force as in a large city.
• On making a first call you
must have a card for each lady of the household.
• On making a call leave your card to the servant. You will be
allowed to see the hostess only after she examines your card.
• On the hall table in every house, there should be a small
silver, or other card tray, a pad and a pencil.
• When the door-bell rings, the servant on duty should have the
card tray ready to present, on the palm of the left hand.
• A gentleman should carry them loose in a convenient pocket; but
a lady may use a card case.
• If your card receives no acknowledgment, you must conclude that
for some reasons they do not wish to extend their acquaintance.
• Do not examine the cards in the card-basket. You have no right
to investigate as to who calls on a lady.
• A young lady can have a card of her own after having been in
society a year.
• American gentleman should never fold the corner of his card,
despite of the temporary fashion. Some European gentlemen, on the
contrary, fold the upper right corner to indicate that they've
delivered it themselves (the servant should never hand his
master's card folded).
• Fold the card in the middle if you wish to indicate that the
call is on several, or all of the members of the family.
Signs on a visiting card
The initial letters you can meet on personal
cards stand for the French words:
• p. f. - congratulations (pour
• p. r. - expressing one's thanks (pour remercier) - even if one
is presented with flowers
• 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)