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Antique Calling Card Case

CALLING CARD CASE: AN IMPORTANT ACCESSORY IN THE VICTORIAN SOCIETY 

Written by Wiktoria Kijowska


The use of calling card cases dates back to the 1820s when the idea of leaving one’s calling card was popular. But what do I mean by ‘leaving one’s calling card’?
Calling cards were an essential part of the very formal etiquette of introductions and visits. This idea was first used in the early 19th century and later grew to be very popular during the Victorian period.
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(images curtesy of Pinterest)


At the time, ‘visiting’ was largely a lady’s job and so a great number of calling card cases were actually aimed towards women. It is said that their visits were meant to be very brief. In a ‘Book of Household Management’ written by Isabella Beeton in 1861, she recommends that the visits were to be no longer than 15 – 20 minutes and serious discussions should be avoided.
To allow for better communication between the servant – who received the calling card and the lady or gentleman wishing to visit, the corners of the card could be turned up to indicate different
reasons for the visit. For example, if the lower right-hand corner was turned up, this indicated that the visit would be to check up after an illness.

Now that you know what calling cards were, let’s go back to calling card cases. Calling card case design changed depending on if the case was for a lady or a gentleman. Cases aimed at gentlemen were usually smaller and more rounded and sometimes beveled so that they would fit easier into a waistcoat pocket. On the other hand, examples aimed towards ladies were sharply rectangular which later developed into a more shaped rectangular form.

Fine materials of silver, tortoiseshell, mother-of-pearl, papier-mâché, wood and gold were all used to create these calling card cases. However, the earliest examples were made from silver as this showed off the wealthy status of the owner. In addition, early calling card cases featured a scene and decorations on both sides, while later ones only had a scene on one side.

We all love some of our objects to be personalised. Well, the idea of personalisation was also well known back then, and some card cases had a plain cartouche on the back where the owner’s initials could be engraved.
                   
Today, the idea of leaving one’s calling card is long gone; however, these cases can still prove to be useful. Even though the majority of people are moving to have 100% of their work online, business cards are still used and given out to create contacts. Calling card cases would be perfect to store your business cards, credit cards, tickets, matches, pills. So many ideas that would be a great conversation starter.
See our collection of silver cases to use as you desire. 


Wiktoria Kijowska is a final year Furniture and Product Design student with a passion for antiques. She takes a bold and fresh approach to spreading their history and importance with the younger generation. She aims to create more engaging resources about antiques for younger people and acknowledge the positive impact that antiques have on our environment.