Calling Cards

Today Miss Manners's column discusses an early 20th century calling card that one of her readers discovered in an antique book, inspiring me to write about calling cards in early nineteenth century England.

At that time a call was a short visit and calling cards were used both as part of the social ritual of calling. Leaving cards was used as a method of informing one's acquaintences that one had recently arrived or was preparing to depart (if the initials p.p.c. for "pour prendre conge" or p.d.a for "pour dire adieu" were added to the card) as well as a way of informing the master or mistress of the house who was calling on them.

In Sense and Sensibility chapter 27 we are told that "[t]he morning was chiefly spent in leaving cards at the houses of Mrs. Jennings's acquaintance to inform them of her being in town[.]" Later in that chapter we learn that Willoughby has left a card when he called while Mrs. Jennings and her charges were out driving. In Persuasion, Sir Walter says that he will send his card to Lady Russell when she arrives in Bath and is overjoyed when he receives the cards of his cousins Lady Dalrymple and Miss Carteret.

While images of Victorian era cards are fairly plentiful on the internet, so far the only image I have found of, what I assume is, a Regency era is from a post entitled "Calling Cards in Sense and Sensibility and Persuasion" by Vic at Jane Austen's World. I can however tell you the following things about calling cards:

For more information on calling cards:

Calling Cards in Sense and Sensibility and Persuasion at Jane Austen's World
The Etiquette of Using Calling Cards at Jane Austen's World
Paying Social Calls at The Jane Austen Centre

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