Business Card History
I. Visiting Cards, 17th century
Visiting cards, the "Visite Biletes", used to
be playing card size, just a little smaller than the size of a
man's hand. The earliest forms of visiting cards were indeed
playing cards. Visitors wrote on the cards their signatures,
promissory notes and other messages.
As time went by, these visiting cards further
developed into greeting and other cards.
These first visiting cards appeared in France
during the reign of Louis XIV - "Le Roi Soleil". They were
solemnly introducing their owners in all their glory.
Louis XIV, the King of France, was born in 1638
at St. Germain-en-Laye France. He ruled from 1643 to 1715 (72
years the longest reign in modern European history). He was styled
the Grand Monarch, and his brilliant court at Versailles became a
model and perhaps also the despair of other, less rich and less
powerful princes who nevertheless accepted his theory of absolute
A great supporter of the arts, Louis patronized
the foremost writers and artists of his time, including Moliere,
Jean Racine, Jean de La Fontaine, and Charles Le Brun. The
architect Jules Mansart supervised the building of the lavish
palace of Versailles. Because of the brilliance of his court,
Louis was called "Le Roi Soleil" and "Le Grand Monarque."