The Etiquette of Calling Cards By Renee Ann Miller



The Etiquette of Calling Cards

By Renee Ann Miller, author of Never Deceive a ViscountBook 2 in the Infamous Lords Series

During the Nineteenth and early Twentieth centuries visiting someone’s home wasn’t the casual experience it is now. When calling upon a friend or acquaintance, one was expected to arrive during certain times of the day—usually in the afternoon, and visits were kept to a short time frame, perhaps only fifteen minutes. Anyone who considered themselves in vogue and followed the etiquette rules during this period carried a calling card.

So, what was a calling card, which was sometimes referred to as a visiting card, and what information did they provide? Most were comparable in size to today’s business cards. Men’s calling cards were slightly smaller than women’s cards, since they carried them in their breast pocket. Many only contained the card holder’s name. A gentleman might list his club. A woman might add the day she accepts callers. In Europe a member of the nobility might include his coat of arms. Because of the advances in printing with multiple colors, Victorian cards were more decorative than those used during the Regency period.

How were calling cards used? A card would be dropped off at the residence of the person you wished to visit. You could do this in person or send a servant. The butler, housekeeper, or footman who answered the door would extend a tray for the card to be placed on. These calling card trays were kept in the entry hall. Sometimes the most impressive caller’s card would be placed on top for others to see. If the visit was looked upon favorably, a reciprocating card was sent. If you didn’t receive a card, you were not to call. If you called on someone on the same day you wished to visit, they could either accept your call or claim to not be at home.

In the second book in my Infamous Lords Series, Never Deceive a Viscount, Emma Trafford arrives at Simon Marlton’s town house without a card, and the butler looks down his nose at her as if she is an undesirable for not procuring one. If my character Emma had had her card on her it might have looked like this.

Example of a Victorian calling card

Calling cards were also dropped off at residences for other reasons such as condolences and congratulations. In the matter of congratulations or condolences, one could write a brief note on the back of the card.

During the early Twentieth century, the use of calling cards faded away as did many of the rules of etiquette that governed the middle and upper classes.


They are the infamous lords, notorious noblemen who indulge their irreverence in public, but keep their personal struggles private. For a portrait artist, capturing the true soul of a high-born hellion is a daring proposition . . .

Clearly, Emma Trafford’s new neighbor is a lady killer—but is the scoundrel with the scar capable of murder? Emma can barely contain her precocious younger sister, Lily—the child swears she spied their neighbor engaged in foul play in his Bloomsbury love nest. But when Lily goes too far searching for “evidence,” Emma must save the imp by distracting Simon—with an all-consuming kiss rife with danger and desire . . .

Simon Marlton, Viscount Adler doesn’t know which is more infuriating: that an anonymous intruder set his soul on fire and left a deep longing in her wake . . . or that during their encounter his signet ring, a token of his painful past, went missing. With the memory of a faint scent of paint spirits and the knowledge that his neighbor Emma is a portraitist, Simon sets out to capture his thief. He draws Emma into a flirtatious game, commissioning the talented lass to paint him—and enticing them both to reveal their whispered suspicions and deepest secrets . . .

About the Author

Renee Ann Miller writes sexy historical romances. She is a 2015 and 2016 finalist in the prestigious Golden Heart Contest® from Romance Writers of America®. Renee penned her first book at the tender age of seven and even drew the impressive stick figures—though clearly those characters weren’t as spicy as the ones she writes now. She lives in the Northeast with her wonderful husband. You can find out more about Renee and the stories she’s working on at Visit her on the social media platforms below. 


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  1. I still like and use calling cards, not as visiting cards as in the “old days” but as gift enclosures, tucked into a bouquet from my garden to a friend or neighbor, attached to a ribbon tried around a just-baked loaf of bread. I find almost endless uses for a calling card.

    Most frequently, however, a calling card with name/address/telephone information is perfect for leaving with shops or medical or business offices instead of merely scribbling down this information on a torn piece of note paper. It’s practical and it’s simple, and I can’t help wondering why everyone doesn’t do that.


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