Monday, January 26, 2009

A Hand-styled Itawamba County Visiting Card

Calling cards, also referred to as visiting cards were a popular item during the 19th and early 20th century. The above hand-inked card belonged to Dr. Eustis Judson Chaffin as a young man in Itawamba County. He was born July 20, 1887 in Itawamba, the son of William Martin Chaffin (born January 18, 1851) and Susan L. Woods (born December 29, 1855) of the Bounds Crossroads community. Dr. Chaffin left Itawamba County for Arkansas during 1914.

Below is a reference to visitor cards from the 19th century book, Decorum, A Practical Treatise on Etiquette and Dress of the Best American Society revised by S.L. Louis and published in New York by the Union Publishing House during 1883:

Visitors should furnish themselves with cards. Gentlemen ought simply to put their cards into their pocket, but ladies may carry them in a small elegant portfolio, called a card-case. This they can hold in their hand and it will contribute essentially (with an elegant handkerchief of embroidered cambric,) to give them an air of good taste.

On visiting cards, the address is usually placed under the name, towards the bottom of the card, and in smaller letters. Mourning cards are surmounted with a broad black margin; half mourning ones, with a black edge only.

It is bad taste to keep the cards you have received around the frame of a looking-glass; such an exposure shows that you wish to make a display of the names of visitors….If the call is made in a carriage, the servant will ask if the lady you wish to see is at home. If persons call on foot, they go themselves to ask the servants.


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