Recently while doing research into the Victorian Era because of a dream I had(that's another upcoming post), I discovered a most wonderful site, Ancestorville, launched in the late fall of 2006. This site is owned by Debra Clifford who calls herself , "The Town Historian of Ancestorville." I've had it in my head for quite some time now to do this article. So when I came across Debra's site, I decided to give everyone a little background on these gorgeous "Friendship" cards.
Those of you who read historical romance novels as I do may recall a gentleman (?) visiting a lady and then leaving his card when she was discreetly unavailable. According to Debra Clifford in"Victorian Era Calling Cards":
"The use of calling cards was perceived as "high style", carried by "well-to-do" ladies and gentleman who made a point to call on friends and family on specified days of the week or month. Also known as "visiting cards", each one is different and beautiful. Most are unique and one of a kind, with early examples of stone lithography printing, hand tinting, the handwritten word, die cut papers and cardstock, unique fonts and typefaces indicative of the era, and exhibiting unusual paper delineations.
The term "Calling" or the verb "to call" was a common Victorian term for making a visit. The card was left at the door, or in the front parlor in a silver urn, basket or "Card Receiver". These receivers were placed to hold cards for the family, whether they be home or not. Cards left reminded the family of who had called, thus requiring a visit in return. This served as a mode of communication, to receive messages, greetings and announcements of who was in town, births, deaths, sympathy announcements, engagements, and general social events. As a form of communication, the calling card in itself was considered a very important message. It was also an exciting day in the social life of a young Victorian era family member to be granted their first calling card. Proper manners, and acceptable social etiquette were paramount to one’s social standing in a community, and "Calling" or "Visiting" was the most important leisure activity of the period. Calling card etiquette itself dictated the clothing, length of stay, time of visit and how long to stay. Women were the more frequent callers, this being an important ritual of daily life of upper class women. It was simply the job of the woman of the house to keep the family in good social standing in the larger social world. There were strict rules on how a woman was to behave, with men's calling habits showing less strict rules or ceremony.
My Grandmother, bless her heart, introduced me to these exquisite pieces of history. I remember seeing them in so many of her things, scattered reminders of days gone by. Such glories she and my great-grandmother must have been a part of!
Please make it a point to visit Debra Clifford's site, Ancestorville. Journey back in time and rediscover the magic!