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’?
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.
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.