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Friday, August 19, 2016

My Ancestor's "Name cards" or "Visiting cards"

Calling card, 19th century, also called "name cards" or "visiting cards," were small cards imprinted just with a man's or woman's name, sometimes printed in a fancy script. they were exchanged on social occasions and also as tokens of affection; they sometimes were saved as a measure of one's popularity

The personal, or visiting, card is the representative of the individual whose name it bears. It goes where he himself would be entitled to appear, and in his absence it is equivalent to his presence. It is his "double," delegated to fill all social spaces which his variously-occupied life would otherwise compel him to leave vacant. Since the card is to be received as the equivalent of one's self, it is important that it shall be discreetly sent upon its embassy. In every case where personal cards are correctly used the owner is accredited with having performed de facto whatever the card expresses for him, be it a "call," a "regret," a "congratulation," an "apology," an "introduction," a "farewell-taking," or whatever. A card sent at a wrong time suggests the possibility that the owner might blunder similarly in his personal appearing. The neglect to send a card at a proper time is equivalent to a personal neglect. The man who comes himself and hands you his card also is apt to have too many elbows at a dinner, too many feet at a ball. He has about him a suggestion of awkward superfluousness that is subtly consistent with his duplicate announcement of himself.

Calling cards were popular in the nineteenth century in middle and upper class society. These small cards (usually about 1.5" x 3") were used as part of the often elaborate visiting and social calling practices of the era. Cards were exchanged between new acquaintances and were used further social connections. The Society has a collection of over 600 calling cards, many homemade in manuscript and watercolor, others engraved or letter-press printed.

Here are some of my Ancestor's Cards

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