For Expert Village.com this is Jason Freedman.
In this clip we will be talking about the history of business cards. The origins of
the modern business card have their roots back in the 17th century in France. They were
known as visiting cards. Those were used by gentleman callers when ever they went to someone’s
home. They presented their card to the servant, one for each lady of the house if he was a
first time visitor. The servant brought the card into the house and showed it to the women
in the house. If the hostess wanted to see him, she would let the servant know and if
you did not hear back from the hostess, oh! I guess she didn’t want to see him for a
number of reasons; there could have been other gentlemen callers there or just did not want
to see him. There also were many sophisticated rules of etiquette; that was one of them they
had. If you folded one certain corner of the card then the gentleman delivered himself
to the servant. If he folded the card in half, then that would mean that the visitor wanted
to see more than one person or the entire family. After that I guess the other thing
to know would be that these cards were really tied into social status, wealth and land ownership.
Moving on a little bit further in time, London businessmen adopted the use of the cards.
They called them trade cards. They added designs and often times maps on one side of the card.
They added the maps because at that point in time there really was no formal numbering
system for the roads, so they drew pictures or the maps and helped to find their stores.
At first they are printed either by woodcut or a letterpress and later on in the 18th
century, copperplate engraving became very popular. Moving onto the 19th century in Europe
and America, more businessmen and working class type folks started using the cards for
advertising their businesses and there are still a little bit of etiquette involved with
that. For instance, you were not supposed to use it as a calling card if you went to
someone’s house and left it that will be in poor taste because that was usually equated
with some one who was trying to collect a bill and that brings us to today. Annually
there are 4.5 billion business cards printed. They come in all sorts of shapes and sizes.
They are both business and personal reasons and often times there are many alternative
materials used for business cards anything from acrylic to wood to leather to glass;
I have even heard of chocolate business cards.