Victorian Etiquette - On Calling Cards
In today's society, leaving a calling card is considered proper etiquette for the well-bred Victorian. It may only seem but a trifling and insignificant piece of paper; but to the refined, cultured individual, it conveys a subtle and unmistakable intelligence. Its physical appearance is of a fine textured paperboard, its engraving done in a plain script and its size neither too large nor too small which tends to suggest ostentation or whimsicalness.
On the first call of the season, a lady leaves with her own, her husband's, and those of her sons and daughters. After a dinner party, a lady leaves her husband's card with her own.
A married lady, when calling on another married lady, leaves two of her husband's cards along with her own.
When calling at a house where there is another lady besides the hostess, the visitor should leave two cards of her own, and two bearing her husband's name.
When calling on a mother and daughters, a lady should leave two cards.
Cards should be left or sent on the day of a reception, if illness, a death in the family, or any other cause prevents the acceptance of the invitation.
In large cities, in case of a change of residence, cards are sent out bearing the new address; but this is not the custom in small towns.
Invitations to an afternoon tea, reception or wedding, if one is unable to attend, should be acknowledge by cards sent by mail, or by messenger.
Calls should be paid within a week after the receipt of invitations to a dinner party.
Ten or fifteen minutes is the usual length of a formal call, half an hour is the "extreme" limit.
Never write "regrets" or "accepts" on a card; always respond with a formal note in such instances.
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