Calling cards were an indispensable accessory to fashionable, upper class life in Britain, Europe, and the eastern United States during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Though they started as simple unadorned cards to announce one's arrival, the Victorians took both the cards' designs and rules dictating usage to extravagant heights. The earlier calling cards of the late 18th and early 19th centuries were fairly minimal in their design. Usually, they presented an unadorned handwritten name on white or cream colored stock. The cards were smaller and narrower than the later lavish Victorian cards. In general, a gentlemen's cards were smaller than those carried by a lady, as they had to fit into the breast pocket of his coat. In addition, men's cards were on plain paper while a lady's card might be printed in color on glazed paper. The images that appeared on the cards had significance to the Victorians. A dove might symbolize purity and devotion, while a swallow indicated a child or motherhood. Ivy was a sign of immortality and everlasting life, and forget-me-nots were used to symbolize affection. Hands were also a popular motif, symbolizing friendship when clasped, or holding a rose to symbolize love.
These three 1840's hand drawn porcelain paper cards all come from a New Hampshire collection. The smallest measures 2 3/4" x 1 1/4". It belonged to "A.J. Pollurin(?)" and features a simple drawing of leaves and two birds. The second card drawn on pink card stock measures 2 3/4" x 1 1/2". It belonged to "Jane Butterworth" and features two birds on winter branches swathed with a ribbon. The third card measures 3" x 1 3/4". It is unsigned. It features an elaborate drawing of a floral spray, clasped hands and two birds at a fountain. On the back, part of the word "friendship" is faintly calligraphed on the bottom right edge.
All of the cards have scrapbook residue on the back. The first two cards are in excellent condition otherwise. The third card has creases and rust residue from a paper clip on the left side. Please examine the photos and feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
While you are here, do enjoy the other ephemera I have available for sale at this time. Thank you for visiting my shop today.