19th Century Life: Visiting Cards

Yesterday, as I was making breakfast, I found myself thinking about the 19th century custom of leaving visiting cards. I’m not an expert, but as I understand the custom, when two people had a mutual acquaintance or perhaps met casually at a social function, the visiting card was a way to check out whether they might develop a relationship. The scenario went something like this:

Mrs. Hopewell called on the home of Mrs. Fotheringale and left a card with a servant.

If Mrs. Fotheringale was interested in pursuing the acquaintance, she would call on the home of Mrs. Hopewell and leave a card.

Then Mrs. Hopewell would know that if she called on Mrs. Fotheringale during visiting hours, she would be admitted into the house.

And Mrs. Fotheringale could call on Mrs. Hopewell.

Thus, a social acquaintance was established.

I see a contemporary parallel in blogging, don’t you? I stop by a new blog, and “like” a post. The blog owner might then come by here and “like” a post. I visit his blog again and leave a comment. He might return the favor. Then we decide to follow each other’s blogs.

As they say, the more things change, the more  they stay the same, n’est-ce pas?

9 Comments

Filed under 19th century life

9 responses to “19th Century Life: Visiting Cards

  1. Nancy Reynolds

    Around 1990, I located Hazel Cooper Quinn, a former classmate and friend of my late Aunt Helen who had graduated from my alma mater, Vassar College, in 1919. Hazel and I became friends via the post. When she sent me a silver tray as a wedding gift in 1991, she included a small card in a little envelope. On the outside of the card was her name. It is about the dimensions of a business card. I suspect it was her calling card. Getting what is now a novelty was almost as nice as the sterling silver!

  2. Oh– whoops! I don’t follow that blog etiquette at all 😄 If I like what you post, I’m going to follow your blog because I want my readers to have access to you as well. If you want to follow me, it’s up to you– if you don’t, then I need to work on my content!

    • Hi Yvonne. We’re living in a more informal time, so I promise not to hold you to that etiquette. 🙂 Yes, I’d be happy to follow you. I visited your blog last night, and I think I already clicked the “follow” button, but I’ll double check to make sure. Looks like you have some interesting things going on.

      • Oh, that wasn’t a poke for a follow, you are following me (and thank you for that)

        As for my blog, I suppose interesting is the only way to describe it! Hah. Idk, I consider it a humor/resource blog for writers. Whether or not it actually helps anyone, I’ve got no idea.

  3. krystal jane

    Sounds complicated. But you’re right, it is kind of like the blogging community. ^_^

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