A calling card, also known as a visiting card, is a small card with one’s name printed on it. The calling card was a social necessity in 18th-19th century American and Western European upper societies. They were as much utilitarian objects as they were status symbols.

Visiting card of Kaiser Wilhelm. The German text reads, “Wilhelm, Deutscher Kaiser u. König von Preußen” (translation: “William, German Emperor and King of Prussia”

Calling cards were carried by both men and women as a way to announce themselves in an acquaintance’s home or to request an invitation to visit. They could also be used as a way to relay a change of address, a R.s.v.p. answer, and a condolence message. They could also accompany flower arrangements and other impersonal gifts. Ladies sometimes wrote short notes on the back for purposes like relaying the reason for their visit.

Although calling cards have been mostly replaced by business cards, they are still being used today by ladies in upper societies. It is an old world mannerism that still has some use. Ladies who do not work cannot use a business card. So, when attending events and gatherings, they find these cards useful to hand out to those with whom they want to further their acquaintance. Ladies who do work but don’t want to mix business with pleasure or who don’t want to share their business phone number or email address, also find this card useful for handing out at events. Also, it is much more elegant to hand over a calling card than to take someone’s cell phone and type one’s cell number into it.

So, even today, with all the technological advancement we have made, visiting cards still have a purpose. And most importantly, they still have their own unique charm. Elegance never dies.

If you are interested in having a visiting card made, know the rules of making one are fairly the same. A lady’s card should:

  1. Be made using high-quality cardstock. Please no flimsy cards.
  2. Be made on cardstock that is white in color.
  3. Be made on cardstock that is 2.5 to 3.5 inches wide and 2 to 3.5 inches long.
  4. Have letters engraved on the card.
  5. Have letters printed in simple fonts.
  6. Be made with a minimal design. There should be no pictures, monograms (unless you have an official one), or elaborate art placed on the card. Elegance is simplicity; and it is timeless.

Modern calling cards should not include your business name, phone number, or email address. They also should not include your profession. Remember a calling card is not a business card and it is not meant for business networking or marketing. A calling card should be left to its original social purposes.

So, that also means bloggers, vloggers, and instagrammers should not include information about their sites or platforms. To do so is akin to including their profession, hobby, or social club. Thus, the card could be considered another marketing tool.

As for the phone number, that is up to you. In the past, etiquette rules said a lady should not include a phone number. Modern rules have relaxed on this. But please know that phone numbers are more personal and invasive than an email address. Phone calls are harder to dismiss when budding relationships go awry. At the same time, phone numbers give new acquaintances access to your social media accounts, something you may desire.

Modern calling cards should include your name in the center of the card. It should also include a street address. Or it can include an email address in place of a street address. Since our network of communication and travel has expanded, ladies are finding it more useful to include their email address on their card rather than their street address. It is a safer and more useful option.

When creating a calling card, you must remember that your world is much more open and vast than the ladies of the past. The modern lady will meet friendly people from around the world and from different classes and socio-economic levels. And often she will meet them without any formal references or introductions. This means she will not be able to verify their suitability before handing out her personal information. Many also will not have a butler or other servant standing in between her and the person calling. So, the modern lady should determine the information she will place on her calling card according to the events she will attend and how she intends to share her cards.

Will she only share them at family events? Will she only share them in her city? Will she only share them with close friends of close friends? Or will she share them with anyone who could possibly become a friend in the future or useful in her social or business life?

Whatever information you decide to share on your card, you should make sure it is no less than 2 items and no more than 3. It is no longer practical for a lady to put her name on a card without any contact information. So, you should not hand a card with only your name on it. No one will automatically know where to contact you. Such a card is useless clutter in today’s society. At the same time, putting more than 3 items on a card, clutters the card. And it screams, ‘you want to talk every which way you can’. Remember elegance is simplicity.

Now, here are 4 companies that can help you make your dream visiting card…

Crane Stationery [a mid-end to high-end company]

Hoban Cards [a mid-end boutique company]

Dempsey and Carroll [a high-end company for bespoke cards] [a high-end company for bespoke cards]

When purchasing calling cards, don’t forget to purchase a case to hold them.