An important social ritual for the Victorians was the exchange of calling cards. The card was a way of issuing and responding to invitations, sending greetings and maintaining contacts by communicating changes in address.

The language of calling cards was very complicated but understood quite clearly by those who used it. Calling cards were always left in person and most often by women. Wives paid calls without their husbands, so they would leave their husbands’ card where they visited. If the lady of the house being visited was home, the guest left two of her husband’s cards, one for the lady visited and one for her husband. If the lady she intended to visit was not home, a woman left three cards: one of her own and two of her husband’s; however, only her card would be left for the lady of the house.

A man wishing to meet a certain woman had his card sent with a lady. If the sentiment was not mutual, the card was ignored.
McCord Museum of Canadian History

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