While rummaging around a flea market, I stumbled upon a basket of calling cards from the 1800’s. Apparently, most people in high society had their own printed cards that they could leave behind when they came calling as visitors. They were the personal equivalent of business cards and had a clearly personal focus. Cards were imprinted with messages such as: With love’s greetings, Far from thee be every care, All happiness to you and Forget me not. Both men and women used them.

What struck me about these cards was how beautiful they are. This was the 1800s and yet they are full-color, embossed, dimensional, with scalloped edges, die cuts or in miniature envelopes. The name is printed in elegant script behind the images. If you were to attempt to buy these today they would be prohibitively expensive.

Email and messaging apps provide wonderful efficiency and connect us with many that we would never have occasion to deliver one of these gorgeous cards in person but it makes it much more difficult for the personality of the sender to shine through. Think about what you use as your calling card – whether that be a business card, email signature, profile photos or username – and infuse it with some of the classiness and grace that was exchanged before the turn of the century.

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