In the Victorian era, social interaction was a formal affair that demanded careful cultivation of etiquette. And it was initiated through the medium of cards, which came in all shades and stripes. Their format and language helped define the class, breeding and status of an individual.
If a gentleman wished to “call” upon a friend, he’d present his “calling card” to the servant of the household. The servant would hold a salver and the card would be placed upon it. If this person was home, the servant would take the card to him or her and they’d come meet the caller. If not, the servant would leave the card for them to look at when they returned.
Typically, upon a gentleman’s initial visit to a residence, he’d simply, leave a card and then depart. If the new acquaintance wished to socialize with him, he or she would send a card in return. If no return card was sent in an envelope, this signaled that there would be no friendship.
Even though most calling cards were straight-laced and buttoned-down, eager men found plenty of clever ways of jazzing them up, converting them into what were called “escort cards.”
We should bring these back for both romantic and platonic needs.