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Victorian Calling Cards

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Morning Glory Antiques & Jewelry

Costume Jewelry Magazine

Victorian Calling Cards

Salesman’s Samples

In the Victorian era, calling cards were used by
every lady and gentleman of means. While the custom began in Europe, it
spread to England and America quickly, and the intricate courtesies of
how and when to leave cards was a facet of Victorian social life and
etiquette. Everything about a card carried a meaning, from it’s design
and motifs to a turned-down corner or black border.

Cards could be colorful or plain, with lovely calligraphy or printing.
Some cards had the name hidden in the design or behind a colorful
decorative front card.

Some cards are black and white lithographs with the color
added by hand, but others are done in Chromolithography, which uses a
different plate for each color, resulting in a richly colored and
detailed card.

cards were carried in elegant card cases, often made of sterling,
mother-of-pearl or paper mache. Making social calls was a ritual of
Victorian life, and calling card trays graced the entry of most homes.
There was even a method of leaving a message with no words by folding a
corner of the card: the folded top right of the card indicated
congratulations, the bottom right a call of condolence, and the bottom
left a farewell.

"Pocket sample book and reduced price list of new designs for 1885
of fashionable visiting cards from Acme Card Company
Ivoryton, Connecticut."

"This elegant little book is sent to you in hope that you will show it to
your friends and raise a Club. You can make a handsome thing out of it
yourself and help introduce our beautiful cards."

"With name in fancy type
50 Designs ~ No two alike
Each card has every flower leaf and character completely embossed"

"Special for the Season of 1885
Motto embossed cards at half price
Our new embossed Pack
50 for 15 cts"

"Wishing you a Happy Birthday"
The sweet pea and white lily symbolize the message "it is good to be with

This scrap card is friendship greetings
"Friends will meet and friends will sever,
But true friendship lives forever."

"Life bear for you it’s sweetest flowers"
The rose and dove symbolize peace and love.

"May true friends be around you"

Sample Book

The Ohio Card Company
Cadiz, Ohio

The human hand, especially a lady’s hand, is a common motif
in both Victorian jewelry and calling cards.

Hand Motif Cards
Holding a written message or a message encoded in flowers
or birds, the hand delivers the sender’s sentiments.
See Victorian Hand Motif
Jewelry by clicking HERE

Walter S. Hannable

Charles F. Symonds

Mrs. A. F. Sanborn

"My Heart is Thine" card with the hand holding a pink rose
symbolizing secret love. This is a "hidden name" calling card…

… with the name concealed behind a hand and flower decorative scrap.
Amy Masters

1-3/4" hand brooch holding a pearl and wearing a gold wire ring and

Hidden name card.

Salesman’s sample hidden name card
"no. 58 floral, 12 for 20 cts."

"Affections offered"
Hannah Kelly

"With my compliments"
Hidden name card.

Appolona Stolcenberger

"True Love’s Offering"
Harry C. Hannable

The hand is a common motif in Victorian calling cards and jewelry. VICTORIAN "Fede"
or clasped hands pin signifying friendship, dyed horn or vulcanite, 2-5/8". Hallmark
on back.
View #V25192

VICTORIAN vulcanite
hand holding basket brooch, hallmarked 1885, 2-3/4".
View #V27230


2" vulcanite hand brooch holding sheaf and wreath of roses, symbolic
of hope
and love.

Allen F. Marshall

Gertie D. Reed

Thomas F. Gunivan

A collection of Victorian card cases, card stand and card
tray from the late 1800s.

Victorian Accessories
For more Victorian accessories, click

"C.H. Eagle
31 Broad Street, New York"
This small box holds the owner’s
calling cards as well as the cards of those who have called on her.
Mr. E.D.W. Dietrich’s card and photograph are pasted into the
lid. He was a well known arts & Crafts architect, and you can see
some of his work


CARD holder made of
wood with sterling embellishments. #a27687

Card holder with card.

Card and photo in box lid.

Mr. & Mrs. John Ballou
at home
Saturday eve, Nov. 18, 1871

Reed & Barton silver plated card tray with swinging birds and footed
stand ornamented with faces at the center.
View #a7138

Birds on swinging perches.

elegant coin, cash and card purse, engraved "MEM", 3-1/2" by 2-1/4" by 5/8" deep.
View #P9200
Sterling Silver Vanity Cases.
Parisian Ivory
toilet articles.
This lovely sterling and gilt case would have
held coins, cash and calling cards.

STERLING card or cigarette case
with machined finish front and back,
engraved “”FLR”, 4″ by 3″.
View #P12290

STERLING card or cigarette case
engraved “SKJ”, 4-1/2″ by 3-1/8″. Hammered design
on both front and back.
View #P9362

VICTORIAN tortoise shell
visiting card holder with mother-of-pearl inlay, etched designs, sterling
cartouche engraved, "M. E. Smith, 10th Feb’y, 1879" and a calling card inside
"Dr. W.C.F. Smith, North Parade, Halifax". There is a small stable old
crack in one panel of the mother-of-pearl.
View #V32215

Birds are another messenger, going as far back as
Noah’s Biblical dove. Like the hand, they carry both written and
symbolic messages.

Bird Motif Cards
To see more about symbols in jewelry, click

To see more bird motif jewelry, click

Cilla A. Blanchard

"Would that this garden fair might weave around thy life
A spell to shield from car a guard form every strife."

Charles A. Palmer

Frank R. Smith

The dove holds lily-of-the-valley and violets in his mouth, symbols
of peace and love.
Lollie M. Wright

"Trust to Me"
Allen A. Baker

three-bird bar pin from the early 1900’s.

like the one that flew from the ark to search for land, signifying good
tidings, a tiny pin circa 1900. This tiny
turn-of-the-century treasure is a sentimental favorite for me, as it was
in the very first box lot of jewelry I bought when I was 12 years old.

yellow gold and diamond bird bar pin, 2".
View #Q27559

"May flowers of love around thee be twined
and the sunshine of peace shed its joys o’er thy mind."
Willie L. Burchsted

"May your life be as happy and free from care
As the rose of the garden or birds of the air."

Helen A. Allen

Emma K. Smith

Frank A. Cleaves

H.L. Holcomb

Victorian Calling Cards
Floral & Nature Motifs

Mrs. Fannie E. Elliott

Unusual sea shells motif.
Arthur F. Adams

Unusual speckled eggs motif.
Alice May Cross

Lewis A. Berry

Nellie T. O. Hearene

Etna F. May

"Think of Me"
Fred Woodbury

George E. Wiseman

Lulu Manning

"From a faithful friend."
Morning Glories and bonneted child.
Annie E. Wiseman

Katie C. Wiseman

"With love and fond wishes"
Benj. F. Tappan

Jennie Critchett

"Believe me Thine"

Rosanna F. King

Janice W. Havens

"May flowers bedeck thy path and fortune be thy guiding star."
What an unusual name!
Asenath R. Pickering

Mary E. Fay

Possibly a sympathy card.
Adelaide S. Saunders

"May all your troubles be light as the beautiful rose, and be carried
beyond the clouds on wings of love."

Scenic and floral motif card.

Anna Wright

"I dare not tell thee how my heart
At every thought of thee will start."
Christianna E. Cross

Robert P. Williams

W. Terry Fulkerson

Abbie E. Reed

"I love you"
Helen P. Collimer

Lillian E. Davis

Fannie A. Pardee

"I’ll be forever thine, if thou wilt let me,
While the bright sun doth shine I’ll ne’er forget thee."

Bertha A. Larcom

To see more Victorian jewelry, click

Business Advertising Cards
To see more portrait jewelry, click

D.J.Lines Fine Clothing
and Men’s Furnishings

7" by 1" agate bracelet with an engraved plaque that
says, "AR Clothier. 111 London. Rd. Chippenham. WRCD 47/2". An unusual
advertising piece. View
View #23382

D.J.Lines Fine Clothing
and Gent’s Furnishing Goods

PORTRAIT hand painted
on ivory, probably early 1800s, in an etched and gilded tortoise frame.

View #a26593

F.J. Borden
Crayon and pastel portraits
Many portrait painters traveled to find their
subjects, working in the client’s home.

PORTRAIT Miniature
This 2-3/4" hand painted portrait circa 1840 also has
a lock of hair on the back.

"Rings Free, Premium for $1.00 order for cards
Real stone, 18k rolled gold plate"

VICTORIAN yellow gold and onyx ring. #G27383
VICTORIAN gold ring with three gypsy set diamonds. #G21499
Both are similar to the premiums offered in the ad shown at left.

"Fashionable Visiting Cards"

Simple Cards

An early hand stamped calling card with a bird and flourishes.
Mrs. A. Edmonds

An early hand calligraphied calling card.
C.C. Hart, Canton, PA

The folded top left corner of the card indicated that the caller had come
in person.
Jane Stoddard

A card illustrating ornate calligraphy.
G.D. Wetherbee

Willie Melvin Blanchard

The folded top left corner of the card indicated that the caller had come
in person.
H.L. Holcomb, Towanda, PA

Richard Manning

Martha Havens

Dell F. Williams

Embossed card.
Mary J. Lee

Embossed card.
Nela J. Cross

Embossed card.
Miss Hattie Lyon

Mr. E.D.W. Dietrich

Mr.& Mrs. E.D.W. Dietrich

Abram F. Crittenden