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Re: 19th c. calling cards



Calling cards from the 1850s-60s were often handwritten rather than engraved.
A facet of 19th century etiquette we seem to have forgotten is that many
personal items were hand-done, & business ones were printed or engraved. In
reading the unpublished 1860s diaries of John M. Wing I ran across a passage
where Wing went to a local bank in upstate N.Y. to have his cards written
out, doubtlessly by an accountant who would have had a "professional" hand.
Some samples of the cards still exist and they are written in the Spencerian
script so common in this  period.

Thomas E. Hill's Hill's Manual of Social and Business Forms (1st publ. 1873,
1881 ed. consulted) also shows a Spencerian style of script for visiting
cards. These are set in type--Spencerian types were available in the 1860s
--but described as "autograph cards." (George Bruce began cutting script
faces in the U.S. in the 1830s, and his company's 1893 specimen book shows
Point Penman types from 12pts to  84pts.) Interestingly, "Mr.", "Esq.", and
other honorifics are not used, and the gentleman's first name is abbreviated
(Chas., Thos., Jno. [John], etc.) and the lady's name is preceded by "Mrs.",
then followed by her husband's name. Only the oldest daughter used "Miss",
and all names include a middle initial. (I assume an unmarried woman would
use her first name & middle initial preceded by "Miss".) Hill goes on to say
that "Autograph cards should be used only among those acquaintances to whom
the residence is well known. Business cards should contain upon their face
the name, business, address and references, if references are used." In his
examples the address is typeset in rather small type at the lower left or
right of the card. No sizes are given, but the examples in Hill are all 7/8"
x 2 1/16". If your clients have access to period etiquette books, they might
want to consult them as well.

Rather than Shelley (which would be more appropriate for 18th cent. cards) I
would suggest Carpenter, a script face available for computers, assuming you
can't find anyone to do them in Spencerian. It's not as contrasty as Shelley,
and has more of a Spencerian feel, although not Spencerian. I hope this
helps.

R. Williams


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