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Had the proposed change been carried rewards;
Visiting-cards were a development
on the "Tell your
wrote the following answer
An amusing example of the use of
Sometimes the backs of playingcards which were used for invitations and similar purposes were elaborately
Your compliments, lady, I pray you for- engraved. The writer of a once well
One of the many stories that are told to account for the name of "Curse of Scotland," which is given to the nine of diamonds, attributes its origin to the alleged action of the Duke of Cumberland in writing his cruel order, refusing all quarter to the defeated Highlanders after Culloden, on the back of this particular card. But as the term was in use before the battle of Culloden was fought, the explanation can hardly be true. Much earlier the Irish name for the six of hearts-the "Grace-card"-is said to have had its origin in a message written thereon. The tradition goes that a gentleman of Kilkenny, named Grace, was being strongly urged by a representative of Marshal Schomberg to declare for William of Orange and against James II. The marshal's emissary in his master's name made lavish promises of future
known book called the "Spiritual Quixote," published in 1772, speaks of the use of playing-cards for the sending of messages as a new fashion; but it is clear from what has been already stated that they had been in common use for at least thirty or forty years. A curious survival of this custom was observed in the island of Madeira some years ago. A visitor who was staying in that delightful isle about 1865 recorded that the invitations given by the bishop for the Easter ceremonies in the cathedral of Funchal were written on the backs of playing-cards.
From the use of such cards simply for invitations and other messages it was an easy transition to their use for visiting purposes. At first the person who so used them simply wrote his name across the back of a card. Doctor Doran, in one of his pleasant books of gossip, declares that it was in Paris, about the year 1770, that the custom was introduced of visiting en blanc, as it was called, that is by leaving a card. Old-fashioned folks, he says, who loved to visit in state and display their costumes, called this fashion fantastic,
But, of grown over with weeds, on which was engraved the name "Miss Berrys." One of the nymphs led a lamb by a ribbon, to typify, so it is said, Miss Agnes Berry.
and strongly opposed it.
Visiting-cards seem to have been known by various names. Madame D'Arblay in her "Diary" uses the term "name-card." They were often spoken of as "tickets." A lady writer of the last century enters in her journal, under date November 16, 1799, when
Sur le dos d'une carte on fait la signa- at Hanover: "At six Madame de
Pour rendre sa visite au dos de la serrure.
The play upon the word dos is not very translatable, but the meaning of the couplet is plain-the person visited was not at home, but the card with the name written on the back paid the visit to the back of the lock, conveyed the visitor, as it were, to the other side of the locked door.
Writing the name on the back of a card was soon found to be too simple a matter, and it became the practice to write the name either on the backs of playing-cards, or on the face of cards adorned with engraved devices. Classical ruins and the like designs were highly fashionable. Cards SO engraved appear to have been sold In packs, with assorted views; for two or more cards have been found bearing the same name written across them, but with quite different pictures as backgrounds. The practice of writing the name seems to have been soon superseded by engraving the name as well as the background. Much artistic ability and ingenuity were devoted to these cards. Sir Joshua Reynolds's card was engraved by Bartolozzi. The paste-board of Canova, the great sculptor, represented a block of marble, rough hewn from the quarry, and inscribed with the name in large Roman capitals, A. CANOVA. Miss Berry and her sister, who were well-known figures in London society from the days of Horace Walpole till near the middle of the present century, used a curiously adorned card. On it were shown two nymphs, classically draped, who pointed to a slab like a tomb-stone,
Busche called to take me to pay my visits. We only dropped tickets." In Scott's St. Ronan's Well," Captain Jekyl of the Guards introduces himself by presenting his "ticket." The same novel, by the way, the action of which is supposed to pass at the time of the Peninsular War, contains a somewhat belated example of the use of the playing-card for "ticket" purposes. When Captain M'Turk, on hostile thoughts intent, asks Luckie Dods if Mr. Tyrrell is at home, that undaunted heroine retorts, "Wha may ye be that speers?" The captain, as the most polite reply to this question, says Scott, and as an indulgence at the same time of his own taciturn disposition, "presented to Luckie Dods the fifth part of an ordinary playing-card, much grimed with snuff, which bore on its blank side his name and quality." But Meg would have nothing to do with the "deil's play-books," as readers of the novel will remember, and Captain M'Turk had to state who he was and what he wanted.
A very large collection of eighteenthcentury cards of various kinds-shopbills, invitation, trade, funeral, and other cards and certificates-was formed by Miss Banks, the daughter of the famous naturalist, Sir Joseph Banks, who sailed round the world with Captain Cook. This collection is now in the Print Room of the British Museum; and the visitor who looks through this very interesting gathering of the flotsam and jetsam of the printing-press will find many valuable and curious specimens of the visitingcards of long ago.