The History of Business Cards

April 1, 2010 by Mark  
Filed under Featured, Print

The History of Business Cards

Business cards have a long history that dates as far back as the 15th century in China. The business card began as a “Visiting Card” or a calling card. It was a social convention that was bound by some very strict etiquette rules. The visiting card was introduced to Europe in the 17th century during the reign of Louis XIV who was known as the Sun King. In the same century the practice began to take hold in English society. It was actually required by the upper class when visiting others to present your visiting card to the butler and depending on who you were visiting, the lady or the man of the house would decide if they wanted to visit with you.

From the visiting card came the “Trade Card” this was a time newspapers were an undeveloped resource. The trade card was designed to direct the public to a merchant’s location and usually contained a map and directions. This was at a time when the current system of street numbering did not exist.

As lithography became the printing medium of choice in the early 1800’s and colors became easier to produce the visiting card started to become more colorful. For a short period there was not much distinction between the business/trade card and the visiting card. Gradually, the two types of cards began to separate. The rules of etiquette that came into being during this period began to make the idea of a card that stressed a business function unacceptable as a visiting card.

Slowly the business/trade card became the card of choice and the visiting card gradually vanished from the scene. Now it seems after you have made your business introductions, the next question is do you have a business card? As small and insignificant as it may seem the business card promotes the personality of the company, and individual. So it is important that you don’t take your first impression lightly.

With companies literally offering you free business cards as long as you sport their logo on the back, or cards for next to nothing that often are printed on only one or two different choices of paper stock & coatings. I suggest you take your business card more seriously and put some thought and design time into it before going for the free or low cost card and stand out, with your first impression.

With the introduction of new materials & technologies for business cards such as small CD size cards, plastic, magnetic backed cards, color business cards, the business card industry has moved into the modern era in an exciting way. If you have access to the internet with your cell phone you can even have a VIDEO BUSINESS CARD that you can email people you meet on the spot, that’s IMPACT.  A business card is a must for anyone who deals with the public today, and for many it is one of the most important advertising tools.


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  1. Jay says:” rel=”nofollow”>.…

    tnx for info!!…

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