There are so many details connected, with the leaving of cards and so many occasions on which to leave them that at first it seems bewildering. It does not take long, however, to adapt one’s self to the custom, and every one who pretends to know anything about “Society” with a capital “S” must know all about how, when and where to leave cards.
The card itself varies in size according to the fashion. Just at present, cards are as small as they conveniently can be both for married and unmarried women, though a man's card never varies, being always the regulation size, about 3-1/2 inches long and 2 inches deep. The name is, of course, in the center and the address in the lower right-hand corner. The “at home” day (if the girl's mother has one) is printed in the lower left-hand corner, and should read, “Thursdays in January” or “Thursdays, January 4th and 11th.” The most common use for the cards is, of course, for calling, and calls must be made with care and regularity. If a girl expects to keep her position in the world of fashion. It is not etiquette to call except upon “at home” days, unless, of course, the party has no “at home” day, then it is permissible to call any day.
If the girl is calling on a married woman, she leaves one of her own cards and one of her mother's, with two of her father's, as the man must always call on the man of the house. If the lady has daughters in society, a card should be left for each daughter from all three, the girl's mother, father and the girl. If there are other men in the family, the girl should leave one of her father's cards for each one of them. A woman naturally never leaves a card on a man. This seems like a great waste of cardboard, but as it is etiquette it must be accepted. When a girl is paying a party call for a luncheon on people that she knows slightly, must, of course, leave a card for the girl's mother, even if she has never met her. When a girl goes to any kind of reception, she must leave cards.
There is usually a tray left in the hall or the purpose. If a girl and her mother are prevented from attending a reception, they must send cards, and just the same quantity as if they had called personally. Never send cards to “days” until the last day. A girl should always leave cards on people in mourning, and as soon after their bereavement as possible. Never ask to see anyone; just leave the card. lt is also polite to leave cards when one knows of illness in a house. In this case, it is polite to inquire for the sufferer. If a friend moves into the neighborhood, a girl should leave cards on her within the week, or if the girl's family move and the neighbors call on them, the girl should see that the courtesy is promptly returned. All these little things mean so much and require the most infinite care, if a girl is going out at all. – San Francisco Call, 1912
Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia