Learn about Card Cases

In the early 19th century etiquette dictated that upper class ladies and gentlemen should carry a visiting card, also known as a calling card, being a small paper card, about the size of present day business cards, printed with the individual's details, and often bearing an artistic design.

In 19th century England, the caller or the footmen accompanying the caller (if he or she was very important) would deliver the visiting cards to the servants of their prospective hosts, introducing the arrival of the card bearer.

Card cases solely for the purpose of holding visiting cards were introduced at this time and etiquette dictated that ladies should always carry their cards in a card case, although it was acceptable for a gentleman to carry his cards in the breast pocket of his jacket.

Reflecting the fact that card cases were mainly used by ladies, the designs were feminine in nature.

The early card cases were made of silver and leather with fine gilt tooling. The earliest French cases, c1760, were made of gold, silver and enamel, sometimes with ivory panels or beadwork. more...
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Victorian tortoise shell calling card case having a panel depicting St Mark's Basilica from Piazza San Marco, with a purple silk lined interior.

Early tortoiseshell and silver card case. Engraved silver central cartouche. Height 10 cm

Victorian tortoise shell calling card case oblong with mother of pearl floral inlay, top hinged opening

Tortoiseshell & mother of pearl calling card case having rounded edges, a velvet lined interior, with an inlaid unmarked silver cartouche, & a working button clasp. Condition, good to fair, minor losses to the shell. Dimensions, 10 x 7.6 x 1.2 cm

Two Victorian tortoiseshell covered items; a card case with ivory trim and push-button release, minor losses, together with an oval small purse, the steel frame with sectional chamois interior, the top tortoiseshell panel with gilt Greek key inlaid bands.

Two silver mounted tortoise shell and mother-of-pearl card cases, 19th/20th century, together with a silver and enamel cover the largest box 8 cm wide

Two Victorian tortoiseshell card cases 19th century each with silver inlay and one with mother of pearl, 11 cm high( each)

A Victorian mother of pearl and tortoiseshell card case, circa 1860s. The rectangular shaped bone case with a button release hinged top decorated with alternating panels of tortoiseshell and mother of pearl lightly engraved with patterns and scrolling rose

Victorian tortoiseshell card case with mother of pearl and abalone inlay

A Victorian tortoiseshell covered card case, the hinged lid with push-button release revealing ivory fittings, rectangular form, good condition and polish. 7.2 cm x 1 cm x 10.4 cm

A Victorian ladies visiting card case in tortoiseshell with ivory band and silver catch. Height 10.5 cm. Width 8 cm

A Victorian ladies visiting card case in tortoiseshell with inlaid mother of pearl shell floral panels. Pewter stringing. Height 11 cm. Width 8 cm

Tortoise shell gilt inlaid card case decorated with gilt wading birds, some restorations. Dimensions 9.8 x 6.3 cm

Tortoise shell and silver mounted card case, 19th century, depicting young child sitting on a fence. Height 10.5 cm, 7.4 cm

A Chinese tortoiseshell card case, late 18th century, finely carved with intricate scenes of Chinese provincial life in a forested mountain setting. 11 cm high, 7 cm wide

Tortoise shell and ivory card case, silver banding with original blue silk interior, English, 19th century

A fine pressed tortoise-shell and ivory cathedral card case, English, circa 1840, 9 x 6 cm

A Chinese carved tortoise-shell card case. Early 20th century, rectangular of typical form with a slide-off top, finely carved and under-carved to both sides and all edges with scenes of figures around buildings and boats amidst trees. Height 11 cm. Width

A Victorian tortoiseshell silver mounted visiting card case, in original silk lined leather presentation case, monogrammed and dated 1896

A Victorian tortoiseshell card case of rectangular form, fine engraved gilt brass decoration to one side with shield cartouche on diaper ground, floral and scroll border and push button hinged lid release with ivory lining. 10.5 cm x 7.8 cm

Tortoise shell and mother of pearl card case. Length 10.5 cm

A collection of four antique card cases and change purses, comprising a rectangular late Victorian card case, Brimingham 1887, 10.5 cm wide, with a projecting pencil and an ivory notes page; a rectangular sterling silver mounted mother of pearl change purs

Victorian tortoise shell and mother of pearl inlaid card case. Height 10.5 cm

Tortoise shell 19th century Chinese export century card case with bustling life amongst pagodas and gardens. Height 11.5 cm

Antique tortoiseshell lady's card case with mother of pearl inlay

Tortoiseshell card case, decorated with floral border and domestic scenes

Victorian tortoiseshell card case, silver mounted. Length 10.5 cm

19th century Chinese export tortoiseshell card case carved with figures and flowers

A 19th century tortoiseshell card case of rectangular form, inlaid with silver, the central panel engraved with birds

Victorian tortoiseshell and mother of pearl inlaid card case with English Empire motif