Extravagant engraving & printing (1890)

Fortunes in cards

How Washington belles squander their substance

Special correspondence of the Herald

Five hundred thousand visiting cards have been engraved in Washington this season. One stationary firm tells me that it has turned out 300,000 in the last two months, and the money spent here on pasteboard during a season amounts to tens of thousands of dollars. The most ordinary card costs a cent apiece after the plate is made, and some of the dinner invitations sent out cost $10 a dozen.

A prominent item on the expense account of a Washington belle is her engraving and printing, and society ladies who give dinners spend at times hundreds of dollars upon the stationery for a feast. Mrs Leland Stanford lately paid $85 for fifty cards to be used as menus for one of her big dinners. The map of the United States was stamped in silver on the cards and the drawing and engraving wore exquisite.

At the dinner which General Breckenridge gave a week or so ago, the cards cost $1 apiece, and Mrs Justice Blatchford gave not long ago a luncheon the cards for which were carved by hand at a cost of $18 a dozen.

No one thinks of giving a big dinner without something fancy in the way of cards, and a great many of the menus are hand-painted. Some of the cards are in raised silver and gold. They look as though the gold and silver had been melted and poured into letters on the cards. They cost 75 cents apiece. Others are drawn in black, and it is quite the thing to make the name on the cards which goes with each plate so pretty that it may be carried away as a souvenir.

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Letter-writing is falling out of style (1894)

Card above: Dejuner [lunch] For Mrs Thos Brady & Daughter — In remembrance of a very pleasant evening — April 1890

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