Three late 19th century visiting cards. An essential part of social life for Victorian ladies was to spend part of their day paying or receiving visits. These visits would take place between 3 and 5 o’clock in the afternoon though they were referred to as ‘morning calls’. Their purpose was to increase a lady’s circle of acquaintances in the hope of social advancement for themselves or more often their daughters who would accompany them from house to house.
If the lady of the house was out or ‘not at home’ the visitor would leave her card or, if she were married, three - one of her own and two from her husband (one for the hostess and one for her spouse). If the hostess had one or more grown-up daughters the visitor would fold down the top right corner of their card to show that they had been included in the call, this practice also proved that the card had been presented in person by someone who intended to call rather than by a servant. These cards acted as a quick and convenient method of introduction and would be presented to the master of the house when he arrived home in the evening.