Tuesday, January 29, 2019

The Etiquette of Women’s Cards

“It is considered old-fashioned to indicate the names of both a husband and wife on the same card. As an exception, this practice exists in resorts.”


Calling Card and Business Card Etiquette for Ladies of the Late 1800’s and Early 1900’s

1. The name on a lady’s calling or business card should be printed in a simple font, without any decorations, and without gothic letters. The name is located in the center of the card, the address of the lady is in the left corner. Typically, a business card is three and a half inches in length.

2. Married ladies should never put their first name on a social or business card. An exception is made for widows.

3. It is considered old-fashioned to indicate the names of both a husband and wife on the same card. As an exception, this practice exists in resorts.

4. Before you leave the card, you should ask the servant if the lady of the house is at home. If she is not there, you can safely leave a card.

5. Leaving a card is the prerogative of the ladies. During the visits, the wife leaves not only her business card, but also her husband’s business card. Visiting another married lady, she leaves three cards - her card for her hostess and two cards of her husband; one for her hostess and one for her hostess’ husband.

6. A daughter leaves a business or calling card of her father. A married gentleman rarely leaves his business cards, except during a visit to his single friends.


7. Calling cards are made to leave in person, and not sent by mail. If the health does not allow one to personally bring a card, it can be sent via servant.

8. Upon arrival in a city, ladies should leave their cards with all their friends and acquaintances.

9. When a lady of the carriage set is making calls, the servant carries the cards. If she walks through the city, she knocks at the house and leaves the card herself.

10. If one has paid a visit and talked to the lady of the house, she no longer needs to leave her card. However, she still needs to leave her husband’s two cards. It is considered bad form to leave them on the table in the living room or in the card basket or tray, and in no case can they simply be handed to the lady of the house. The husband’s cards should be left on the table in the hallway or quietly passed to the butler or a servant.

11. If the lady’s husband is present during the visit, he leaves only one of his cards, for the man of the house. If the gentleman is also present, one does not need to leave anything.

12. If the mistress, or lady of the house has adult daughters, the guest should bend the right corner of the business card, thus to mark their presence. The lady never leaves a business card of her husband for the daughters, but she can leave it if the family has adult sons.

13. If a lady leaves a business card for her friend, who only stays in the house, it is not necessary to leave another business card for the lady of the house, unless the visitor knows her.

14. Young ladies should not have their own social calling cards. Their names are usually printed under the name of the mother. If the mother is not alive, the girl’s name is written under the father’s name on the standard lady’s business card (but not on the gentleman’s business card). If adult ladies make social visits in the company of young girls, then the names of the girls are written by hand on the cards, under the names of those women.

15. Older unmarried women, (spinsters or “old maids”) who no longer need an attendant, may have their own cards.

16. If a young lady visits ladies who are unfamiliar with her mother or companion, she leaves her mother’s card, under whose name her name is printed. To let her know that she had personally visited, the girl deletes the mother’s name with a pencil, leaving only her own.

17. Ladies who have received a calling card, should pay a return visit within a week and leave their cards.

18. If a new family arrives in the city, local residents should be the first to make a visit and leave their cards, having previously specified what position the newcomers occupy in the community. Beginners should not be the first to make visits.

19. If a lady makes a visit to inquire about health, she writes, “Ask Mrs. Jones for health.” Having recovered, Mrs. Jones can leave her card, with a note of thanks above the name.

20. Leaving for more than two months, one should personally carry cards to all acquaintances or send cards with the abbreviation PPC (pour prendre conge) in the lower corner through a servant. Thus, they are notified of one’s departure without unnecessary correspondence. This should be done a week before departure.

21. If a lady makes a visit which is primarily for business, she should ask the servant to immediately take her business card to the resident she is visiting.





By contributor, Maria Pavlova. Russian born, Maria started studying etiquette and traditions as a young girl, as it was important to her family. She dedicated much time and research to 19th century etiquette and customs. For a time, she ran an etiquette school called, “The Russian Princess.” Now, living abroad, she offers consultations and conducts etiquette lessons online.

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia 

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