M19195 | Calling cards and case (M. Angus McPhee)

Calling cards and case (M. Angus McPhee)
1900-1910, 20th century
8.5 x 4.4 cm
Gift of Miss Mabel Molson
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Case (40)
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Keys to History

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.

  • What

    The case is made from brown calfskin lined with blue leather, and embossed with the name of the store, C. Asprey - a very fine shop in London, England, well-known for its jewellery and accessories.

  • Where

    Card trays were placed in the front hall of the Victorian home to receive visitors' cards.

  • When

    Cards were left during visiting hours, usually between 3 and 5 p.m. The wife carried out the social duties for herself and her husband.

  • Who

    An "A.C. McPhee," at 325 Grosvenor, Westmount, is listed as an advertising manager for the Montreal Witness in Lovell's Montreal Directory for 1911-12.