VICTORIAN GENTELMAN’S CALLING CARDS
“True friendships' laws are by this rule expressed,
Welcome the coming, speed the parting guest.” - Pope
The first desideratum in a card is finesse of texture, then size and shape. The lettering must also be selected with care. There should be no glazing upon the card, and the engraving should be done in the finest script.
A GENTLEMAN'S CARD
The card carried by a gentleman should be small and engraved, and does not contain a gentleman’s address. If he has a title, it should be placed before his name. If a gentleman has a certain day set apart on which he receives friends, his card should indicate it by the following form.
A gentleman should always carry his calling card in a card case in his coat pocket.
Mr. Richard E. Tostenson
3 to 6
It is usual to wear street dress in calling—a dark suit, with gloves of a dark shade. Light colored suits are permissible in warm weather after Decoration Day and not after Labor Day. Over shoes must be removed. Do not examine the cards in the card basket. You have no right to investigate private affairs.
If ladies accompany a gentleman when he is calling, they should precede him, both on
entering and leaving the room.
NO QUESTIONS PLEASE
If you are left alone for a moment, and a child or servant comes into the room, do not presume upon good breeding to ask them any questions about the family. A man who would do this should be debarred from hospitality of any home.
P. P. C. or P. D. A. Cards
When leaving town for a protracted absence two weeks or more P.P.C. cards are sent.
Which stands for Pour prendre conge, or one may use the P. D. A. card which stands for Pour dire adieu. These cards are sent by mail. The letters are always placed in the lower right hand corner of the card.
There are certin fixed rules laid down by society, which apply to a gentleman. Cowper says:
“Man in society is like a flower, blown in its native bed. Tis there alone his faculties expanded in full bloom, shine out-there only reach their proper use.”
Not every man can tell whether he is at fault on small points of etiquette, and therefore such will be grateful to those who settle these matters for them. A gentleman feels diffident in regard to the code of calling, lest he trespass upon some established rule which he should have known, and which will be a guide for his conduct.
If you are met at the door of a friend’s house with the statement that they are “engaged” or “not at home” which means the same thing, do not urge to be admitted, even though the family were among your dearest friends. You have no right to an exception in your favor if they do not care to receive you on that day.
A long drawn out leave taking is tiresome and impolite to the hostess, as she must stand after he has risen to go, until he has left the room. If there are several ladies in the room, he should bow most impressively to the lady of the house, and make a less formal inclination to the others present.
CALLING ON A LADY
A gentleman cannot consider himself privileged to call upon a lady upon the strength of an introduction alone. He may desire very much to do so, but waits to be invited. If the invitation does not come, and he is anxious to prosecute the acquaintance, he may leave his card at her residence. If he is acceptable, the young lady’s mother will send him an invitation to visit the family, or ask his presence at some entertainment to be given at their home. After that it is plain sailing, and the gentleman may feel that he has a right to call occasionally. If his card receives no acknowledgement, he may conclude that for some reasons best known to themselves, they do not wish to extend their acquaintance. And in this case, he must wait when next they meet in public for recognition at their hands as would any stranger.
If a lady carelessly invites a gentleman to call, without specifying the particular time, he may deem it no invitation at all, as she is more than likely to be out, or engaged should he avail himself of such an off-hand permission. But if she states the time when he may call he should be prompt in keeping his engagement. If anything prevents his coming, he should dispatch a messenger with a note explaining his absence. Carelessness on both parts has checked many friendships.
On making a first call he must have a card, for each lady of the household. When there are several sisters in a family, and the mother is living, two cards will answer—one for the mother, and one for the daughters. The cards which a gentleman uses often are indications of his character. They are to be as simple as possible.
HOUR FOR CALLING
A gentleman whose time is his own can call between 2 and 5 p.m. But as business engrosses nearly all our gentlemen, from 8 until half past 8 in the evening is the proper time to make a social call. If he calls before that hour he may interfere with some previous engagement, and will surely displease his hostess by his untimely visit. Married men are relieved from the task of making calls of ceremony. The wife leaves her husband's card in lieu of a call.
A FORMAL CALL
When paying formal calls, a gentleman asks to see all the ladies of the family. If he calls upon a young lady who is visiting people whom he has never met, he sends in a card for the hostess at the same time that he sends in one for the young lady. The lady of the house should enter the room before his departure, to give him the assurance that any friend of her guest is welcome to her house. A formal call should not exceed 15 minutes, and when the time has expired rise and depart gracefully.
ASK FOR A MEMBER OF THE FAMILY
A gentleman should in all cases inquire for the mother or chaperone of the young lady upon whom he calls, and if she appears he should address his conversation principally to her. But if she makes a practice of entering the parlor and remaining there during his entire call, no matter how often he comes, he should conceal his annoyance under a well bred demeanor. The wisest way would be to take the hint thus afforded, and act upon it.