The History Of Business Cards


Business Card History

III. Business Cards, 19th century

As an adoption from French court etiquette, visiting cards came to America and Europe. They included refined engraved ornaments and fantastic coat of arms. Visiting cards, or calling cards, were an essential accessory to any 19th century middle class lady or gentleman.

Business Cards, 19th century

In the United States there was a rigid distinction between business and visiting cards.

The visiting cards served as tangible evidence of meeting social obligations, as well as a streamlined letter of introduction. The stack of cards in the card tray in the hall was a handy catalog of exactly who had called and whose calls might need to be returned. They did smack of affectation however, and were not generally used among country folk or working class Americans.

Business cards on the other hand, were widespread among men and women, of all classes with a business to promote. It was considered to be in very poor taste to use a business card when making a social call. A business card, left with the servants, could imply that you had called to collect a bill.







A. Lincoln's business card



George G. Lee's business card



M.R. Kennedy's business card

I.  Visiting Cards 17th Century   ●  II.  Trade Cards 17th Century   ●  III.  Business Cards 19th Century   ●  IV.  Calling Card Etiquette  ●   V.  Trade Cards History

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