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Calling Cards of Antiquity


If you’re a business owner or manager, how do you get your name “out there”?

Despite the digital revolution, business cards are still an important marketing tool, and they have a captivating history.

Several different forerunners morphed into today’s compact and stylish business card.

First, there was the bearer card, which appeared in England and France in the late 16th century. These were often playing cards, written on by gentlemen, and carrying legal messages. Bearer cards conveyed debts, promissory notes, or other messages of intent.

Second, the Victorian calling card also became an imperative tool in social etiquette and was used to make elite introductions and screen new acquaintances. Some of these cards were quite romantic in design, while others were more business focused.

A third type of card which became popular was the trade card, strictly used for business purposes. They often had maps directing people to store locations, and were also used for handwritten invoices, receipts and quotations. These trade cards became very artistic and colourful.

Eventually, these three cards morphed into the modern business card which is smaller, simpler and usually a thoughtful combination of text and logo.


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