In the olden days, polite people made their rounds to each other’s homes and left calling cards with the servants who answered the doors. The lady of the house wouldn’t be home since she would likewise be making rounds leaving calling cards at other people’s houses. What a civilized gesture, and such a waste of time. If you really want to visit someone, why not show up when they might be home? Oh, right, because you shouldn’t expect to be entertained when you show up unexpectedly. That of course would be most uncivilized.
The relative beauty and expense of your calling card was just a part of the civilization game. If you had a really boring card, you must be either boring, or poor, or possibly really secure with yourself. If you had an extra fancy card, you must be interesting, or rich, or possibly really insecure with yourself. Odds are you probably had a card that fell somewhere in between, which added to the whole guessing game of where you fell into the perpetual pecking order.
This is all very quaint, outdated, and slightly disturbing. It’s a good thing our society has changed since then, right? Maybe not. We might slightly envy the elaborate dresses the fine ladies wore on their useless calling card rounds, but we also now know that they were being sucked in with bone crushing whale bone corsets and wore really impractical shoes. It’s much better to sit around in a t-shirt and leave a message on a girlfriend’s answering machine. I just wish we still had the manservant to listen to the messages and serve us tea.
Society really hasn’t changed very much. We just changed the rules. I go to your blog, you come to mine, I go to yours… it’s all very friendly and enjoyable, albeit with less fresh air than our ancestors got in the buggy ride from house to house. It’s all very civilized. Yep, very courteous and friendly, and I have to admit I really love doing it.
Sometimes visiting blogs is like visiting somebody’s house that has plants everywhere and toys in the yard and odd sculptures hanging from the ceiling. Sometimes it’s like going to the finest mansion in town and feeling kind of awed by what we find hanging on the walls. Sometimes we find out that our neighbors speak a different language or live in grass huts or igloos. It’s all really, really cool. Maybe even more importantly, we find out that there are a lot of nice and interesting people in the world, and we’re lucky to meet them.
These are calling cards I kept when cleaning out my grandma’s house. Maybe my grandma knew who Wm. Clouser was, and who he wanted to “Accept my Love”? The peacock fan is glued at the bottom and bends down to reveal Wm.’s name. Charlie Barro apparently thought that was a good idea with his disembodied hand offering a bouquet of roses “With love and fond wishes”. I wonder who he was trying to impress? Since neither of these men made it into my family tree, why were their cards kept all of these years? Were my ancestors heart breakers or heartbroken?
I scanned in the prettier cards in my collection. Others are simply script fonts engraved on heavy cards, but I like my great-great-grandmother’s card because she was studying penmanship, and that’s her actual writing – which goes to the point of why I keep these things I guess. They were in real people’s hands before they put on their gloves for the buggy ride.
Since it’s Illustration Friday, I put my own business card on top. I feel like I’m cheating a since I posted this hawk last year, but sometimes isn’t it the gesture that counts?