The etiquette of visiting cards (1909)

The etiquette of cards

Rules governing the use of visiting cards

When, where, for whom to leave them

“Ask me anything you like,” said Mrs Wright cordially, to a friend who had been puzzled over some points of etiquette.

“You are very good to help me,” said Mrs Howe. “After living out of town for some time, as I have done, one gets out of touch with many things.”

“In town or out of town there are always certain accounts to be kept with society,” answered Mrs Wright. “In smaller towns and country neighborhoods, the same general duties should be done. I don’t mean to call them ‘duties’ only. They should be pleasures.”

floral Victorian calling cards“But with my children to think of, I have neglected social duties or pleasures,” pleaded Mrs Howe.

“That is a natural and a frequent excuse,” said her friend, “but it is not altogether fair to your husband or yourself to neglect society, and not fair to seem indifferent to your friends. Then you must remember that you have two girls. They should give you a new interest in social life.”

“But they are children!” exclaimed the young mother in surprise.

Keep in touch for the children

“They will not always be children. They will be grown up before you realize it. While they are growing up, you must not drift away from social interests or customs. You must stay bright and young for the sake of your husband, children, friends and society in general.”

“You are right — I am going to try to follow your example,” said Mrs Howe, gayly. Then she added, “If my girls have as good manners when they grow up as your Rosamond, I shall be happy.”

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“I did not intend to draw down so much flattery on my head or on Rosamond’s,” said Mrs Wright, laughing. Then she continued confidingly, “Rosamond’s coming out this winter has been a joy instead of a task, because I have tried always to keep in touch with society and its ways. A girl’s coming out brings up all sorts of matters for discussion, and one needs to be prepared with information.”

“I see that you are having a very busy winter,” said Mrs Howe. “Yes, a busy and delightful winter; and now that you tell me you want my suggestions, I shall have another pleasure. Is there not something you want to discuss?”

The importance of cards

“Yes; it seems to me that one of the most important things is the etiquette of cards. It is strange that a bit of pasteboard means so much, isn’t it?”

“Not when you think that cards help to unite society. We could never pay off our social debts, or even remind people of our existence, without these useful little bits of pasteboard.

“Cards are very often, too, the expressions of kindliness, sympathy or congratulation. After all, there is a common-sense reasons about the use of visiting cards, as in most social matters. Leaving cards is a step toward renewing friendships, forming or enlarging one’s circle of friends. If one does not follow the prescribed rules, it is a sure step in the wrong direction.”

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