M72 | Calling card tray

Calling card tray
Anonyme - Anonymous
Eastern Woodlands
Aboriginal: Mi'kmaq
1875-1900, 19th century
Birchbark, porcupine quills, glazed cotton, cotton ribbon, cotton thread, glass beads, aniline dyes
2.6 x 21.2 cm
Gift of Mr. David Ross McCord
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Calling card tray (1)
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Keys to History

Part 2 -Material Exchanges: The Growing Tourist Market

The creation of art objects provided the Mi'kmaq with a means to express their identity while also exploring a wide variety of artistic expressions.

Interaction between the Mi'kmaq and Euro-Canadians resulted in mutual surprises and adjustments. For example, the fabrication of art objects became a source of income for the Mi'kmaq. Though the Mi'kmaq had traded decorated objects with Europeans since the time of their earliest contacts, the sale of souvenir art increased rapidly with the rise of tourism in the 19th century. Tourists along the east coast wanted to get a feel for North America: to meet the original inhabitants and, if possible, acquire something to remind them of that encounter. The Mi'kmaq responded by producing objects specifically designed for tourists.

  • What

    This wide-brimmed tray is designed to receive calling cards. It is made of birchbark and decorated with cotton ribbons, porcupine quills and glass beads.

  • Where

    This card tray is a Mi'kmaq piece, but we do not know where it was made. Card holders were intended to be placed on a table in the entrance hall of fine homes.

  • When

    This card tray was no doubt made between 1875 and 1900, when the use of calling cards was very fashionable.

  • Who

    During the Victorian era, in the 19th century, it was the custom for visitors to leave their cards so that the lady of the house could decide whom she wished to receive. Everything to do with these cards-when they were left as well as their design-was governed by strict rules of etiquette.