Calling cards of Wilson H. Blackwell, Mrs. Samuel McClintock Hamill, and Benjamin F. Huddy, 19th century. From the Library Company’s “Things Left in Books Collection.”
Used most prominently among the upper classes, the calling card was the proper method of introduction in the 19th century. The cards could carry a specific written message, or simply be left, unmarked, at the home, with the knowledge that the recipient would understand its meaning and how to respond properly. After serving their primary function, these cards might be saved as keepsakes, but were also frequently used as bookmarks, as each of these was, or as scraps on which to write brief notes, like the list of Muses on the back of Wilson H. Blackwell’s. For reasons lost to history, the inscriber left out only one of the nine – Thalia, the Muse of comedy.