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COLLECTIONS   Victorian Calling Cards



Salesman's Samples


In the Victorian era, calling cards were used by every lady and gentleman of means. While the custom began in Europe, it spread to England and America quickly, and the intricate courtesies of how and when to leave cards was a facet of Victorian social life and etiquette. Everything about a card carried a meaning, from it's design and motifs to a turned-down corner or black border.

Cards could be colorful or plain, with lovely calligraphy or printing. Some cards had the name hidden in the design or behind a colorful decorative front card.

Some cards are black and white lithographs with the color added by hand, but others are done in Chromolithography, which uses a different plate for each color, resulting in a richly colored and detailed card.

Calling cards were carried in elegant card cases, often made of sterling, mother-of-pearl or paper mache. Making social calls was a ritual of Victorian life, and calling card trays graced the entry of most homes.  There was even a method of leaving a message with no words by folding a corner of the card: the folded top right of the card indicated congratulations, the bottom right a call of condolence, and the bottom left a farewell.


"Pocket sample book and reduced price list of new designs for 1885
of fashionable visiting cards from Acme Card Company
Ivoryton, Connecticut."



"This elegant little book is sent to you in hope that you will show it to your friends and raise a Club. You can make a handsome thing out of it yourself and help introduce our beautiful cards."



"With name in fancy type
50 Designs ~ No two alike
Each card has every flower leaf and character completely embossed"

"Special for the Season of 1885
Motto embossed cards at half price
Our new embossed Pack
50 for 15 cts"

"Wishing you a Happy Birthday"
  The sweet pea and white lily symbolize the message "it is good to be with you".


This scrap card is friendship greetings
"Friends will meet and friends will sever,
But true friendship lives forever."

"Life bear for you it's sweetest flowers"
The rose and dove symbolize peace and love.

"May true friends be around you"


Sample Book
The Ohio Card Company
Cadiz, Ohio


The human hand, especially a lady's hand, is a common motif in both Victorian jewelry and calling cards.  
Hand Motif Cards
Holding a written message or a message encoded in flowers or birds, the hand delivers the sender's sentiments.
See Victorian Hand Motif Jewelry by clicking HERE



Walter S. Hannable

Charles F. Symonds

  Mrs. A. F. Sanborn


"My Heart is Thine" card with the hand holding a pink rose symbolizing secret love. This is a "hidden name" calling card...

... with the name concealed behind a hand and flower decorative scrap.
Amy Masters

     MOTHER-OF-PEARL 1-3/4" hand brooch holding a pearl and wearing a gold wire ring and bracelet.   View    #V8500 



Hidden name card.

Salesman's sample hidden name card
"no. 58 floral, 12 for 20 cts."

"Affections offered"
Hannah Kelly 



"With my compliments"
Hidden name card.

Appolona Stolcenberger

 "True Love's Offering"
Harry C. Hannable


 The hand is a common motif in Victorian calling cards and jewelry.  VICTORIAN "Fede" or clasped hands pin signifying friendship, dyed horn or vulcanite, 2-5/8". Hallmark on back.  View   View   #V25192

    VICTORIAN vulcanite  hand holding basket brooch, hallmarked 1885, 2-3/4".   View   #V27230

   VICTORIAN 2" vulcanite  hand brooch holding sheaf and wreath of roses, symbolic of hope and love.   View   #V13204 



Allen F. Marshall

Gertie D. Reed

Thomas F. Gunivan 


A collection of Victorian card cases, card stand and card tray from the late 1800s.  
Victorian Accessories
For more Victorian accessories, click HERE.


   "C.H. Eagle
31 Broad Street, New York"
   This small box holds the owner's calling cards as well as the cards of those who have called on her. Mrs. E.D.W. Dietrich's card and photograph are pasted into the lid.  


 CARD holder made of wood with sterling embellishments.  #a27687 

Card holder with card.

Card and photo in box lid.



Mr. & Mrs. John Ballou
at home
Saturday eve, Nov. 18, 1871

     VICTORIAN Reed & Barton silver plated card tray with swinging birds and footed stand ornamented with faces at the center.   View   View   View   View   #a7138

 Birds on swinging perches.


   STERLING elegant coin, cash and card purse, engraved "MEM", 3-1/2" by 2-1/4" by 5/8" deep.  View   View   View   #P9200    Sterling Silver Vanity Cases.
Parisian Ivory
toilet articles.
This lovely sterling and gilt case would have held coins, cash and calling cards.


   STERLING card or cigarette case with machined finish front and back, engraved ""FLR", 4" by 3".  View   View   #P12290


  STERLING card or cigarette case engraved "SKJ", 4-1/2" by 3-1/8". Hammered design on both front and back.   View   View   #P9362




VICTORIAN tortoise shell visiting card holder with mother-of-pearl inlay, etched designs, sterling cartouche engraved, "M. E. Smith, 10th Feb'y, 1879" and a calling card inside "Dr. W.C.F. Smith, North Parade, Halifax". There is a small stable old crack in one panel of the mother-of-pearl.    View   View   View   View   #V32215



 Birds are another messenger, going as far back as Noah's Biblical dove. Like the hand, they carry both written and symbolic messages.  
Bird Motif Cards
To see more about symbols in jewelry, click HERE.

To see more bird motif jewelry, click



Cilla A. Blanchard

"Would that this garden fair might weave around thy life
A spell to shield from car a guard form every strife."

    Charles A. Palmer


Frank R. Smith

 The dove holds lily-of-the-valley and violets in his mouth, symbols of peace and love.
Lollie M. Wright

"Trust to Me"
Allen A. Baker



        14k SEED PEARL three-bird bar pin from the early 1900's.  View   #Q12787

    NOAH'S DOVE... like the one that flew from the ark to search for land, signifying good tidings, a tiny pin circa 1900. This tiny turn-of-the-century treasure is a sentimental favorite for me, as it was in the very first box lot of jewelry I bought when I was 12 years old.   View   #Q4458 

    EDWARDIAN yellow gold and diamond bird bar pin, 2".  View #Q27559



"May flowers of love around thee be twined
and the sunshine of peace shed its joys o'er thy mind."
Willie L. Burchsted

"May your life be as happy and free from care
As the rose of the garden or birds of the air."

  Helen A. Allen



Emma K. Smith

Frank A. Cleaves

H.L. Holcomb


Victorian Calling Cards
Floral & Nature Motifs



Mrs. Fannie E. Elliott

Unusual sea shells motif.
Arthur F. Adams

  Unusual speckled eggs motif.
Alice May Cross



 Lewis A. Berry

Nellie T. O. Hearene

Etna F. May 



"Think of Me"
Fred Woodbury

  George E. Wiseman

Lulu Manning


 "From a faithful friend."
Morning Glories and bonneted child.
Annie E. Wiseman

Katie C. Wiseman

 "With love and fond wishes"
Benj. F. Tappan   



Jennie Critchett

"Believe me Thine"

  Rosanna F. King


Janice W. Havens

"May flowers bedeck thy path and fortune be thy guiding star."
What an unusual name!
Asenath R. Pickering

  Mary E. Fay


Possibly a sympathy card.
Adelaide S. Saunders

"May all your troubles be light as the beautiful rose, and be carried beyond the clouds on wings of love."

Scenic and floral motif card.
Anna Wright



"I dare not tell thee how my heart
At every thought of thee will start."
Christianna E. Cross

Robert P. Williams

W. Terry Fulkerson



Abbie E. Reed

"I love you"
Helen P. Collimer

Lillian E. Davis 



Fannie A. Pardee

"I'll be forever thine, if thou wilt let me,
While the bright sun doth shine I'll ne'er forget thee."

Bertha A. Larcom  


 To see more Victorian jewelry, click HERE.  
Business Advertising Cards
To see more portrait jewelry, click HERE.



     D.J.Lines Fine Clothing
and Men's Furnishings

    VICTORIAN 7"  by 1" agate bracelet with an engraved plaque that says, "AR Clothier. 111 London. Rd. Chippenham. WRCD 47/2". An unusual advertising piece.  View   View   View   View   #23382

  D.J.Lines Fine Clothing
and Gent's Furnishing Goods



 PORTRAIT hand painted on ivory, probably early 1800s, in an etched and gilded tortoise frame.  View   View   View   View   #a26593

F.J. Borden 
Crayon and pastel portraits
   Many portrait painters traveled to find their subjects, working in the client's home.

  PORTRAIT Miniature This 2-3/4" hand painted portrait circa 1840 also has a lock of hair on the back.    View   #V3810



"Rings Free, Premium for $1.00 order for cards
Real stone, 18k rolled gold plate"

VICTORIAN yellow gold and onyx ring.  #G27383
VICTORIAN gold ring with three gypsy set diamonds.   #G21499
Both are similar to the premiums offered in the ad shown at left.

"Fashionable Visiting Cards"


Simple Cards


An early hand stamped calling card with a bird and flourishes.
Mrs. A. Edmonds

An early hand calligraphied calling card.
C.C. Hart, Canton, PA

  The folded top left corner of the card indicated that the caller had come in person.
Jane Stoddard


A card illustrating ornate calligraphy.
G.D. Wetherbee

Willie Melvin Blanchard 

The folded top left corner of the card indicated that the caller had come in person.
H.L. Holcomb, Towanda, PA


Richard Manning

Martha Havens

Dell F. Williams


Embossed card.
Mary J. Lee

Embossed card.
Nela J. Cross

Embossed card.
Miss Hattie Lyon


Mr. E.D.W. Dietrich

Mr.& Mrs. E.D.W. Dietrich

Abram F. Crittenden




Turn-of-the-century Mesh Purses
Victorian Calling Cards
Button Hooks
Vintage Children's Things



Valuing your Antiques
Victorian Timeline
Victorian Jewelry