Calling Card Cases in our 10th December 2014 Auction

11th November 2014

‘To the unrefined and underbred, the visiting card is but a trifling bit of paper; but to the cultured disciple of social law, it conveys a subtle and unmistakable intelligence.’
Our Deportment, Or the Manners, Conduct and Dress of the Most Refined Society by John H. Young, 1881.

The Calling Card or Visiting card was a familiar concept to the Victorian and Edwardian middle and upper classes and as the passage by John H. Young shows, it was more a sign of their social standing and elegance of manners.

The custom of the day was to leave a card with your name on at the home of a friend or acquaintance you had been to ‘call on’ to let them know that you had been there. Therefore naturally a refined and elegant gentleman or lady would need a calling card case to keep their cards in.

These cases were generally narrow and rectangular in shape, either with a detachable or hinged lid and could be made from a variety of materials. The design would be suited to the owner and their income, and range from plain and simple wooden boxes generally for men, to highly ornate carved examples for women.


Personalised engraved cases were also extremely popular.


Leaving calling cards and consequently the use of calling card cases declined after the Second World War, however their relatively small size and decorative appearance make them a popular item to collect today.

Lots 393 to 408 in our 10th December 2014 Auction contain a range of mainly Victorian and Edwardian cases either lotted individually or as collections made from silver, bone, mother of pearl and tortoise shell. The silver cases are all hallmarked Birmingham and are manufactured by the likes of George Unite & Sons, Minshull & Latimer and A & J Zimmerman Ltd.


To view full descriptions and see images of these lots in our 10th December 2014 auction please see the ‘auction catalogue’ section of our website or keep an eye on our Twitter and Facebook accounts which will include updates of our latest auction news.

Are you thinking of selling your collection? Please feel free to contact me for advice either by calling 01926 499 031 or emailing me at I look forward to hearing from you.

Jill Smith

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