Welcome to BusinessCards.net! Check out our business card blog to read our current content, and please be patient as we rebuild our site.
Even in this high-tech, virtual environment, you need business cards! Business cards are essential for face-to-face networking, capturing potential customers, and displaying company web site and contact information. When did it all begin and how has it evolved?
17th Century Visiting Cards
The earliest form of cards for exchange were visiting cards, also known later as calling cards, used as early as the 15th century in China.
Later introduced in France during the 17th century during the reign of King Louis XIV, visiting cards were first passed on to servants to announce the arrival of a noble guest. Visiting card etiquette was established for such an occasion. Later the visiting cards were also used for agreements, greetings, promissory notes, signatures, or other important information.
17th and 18th Century Trade Cards
Also originating in the 17th century were trade cards, used in England for door-to-door advertising, maps, and directions, because no street address system existed at the time.
Trade cards became effective advertising for merchants. These early trade cards were printed by a woodcut or a letter press, until copperplate engraving was introduced in the 18th century.
By 1830, colored lithography became available in Europe for effective advertising and sufficed for business until newspaper print distribution boomed in the 19th century.
18th and 19th Century Calling Cards
In the 18th and early 19th centuries, a strong distinction developed between social calling cards and other business related cards. They each formed a unique purpose. Calling cards were finally introduced to the middle class as a form of etiquette, while trade cards were generally used for a business purpose, and the two would not be interchanged. As time went on and technology improved for printing and press, the two began to merge.
19th Century Business Cards
As the 17th and 18th century visiting cards and trade cards were introduced to America in the form of fine engraving and stately coats of arms, they evolved into the 19th century business cards of today.
With the rise of the Industrial Revolution in the late 18th century, business cards became the new essential tool for business contacts and interaction both in the United States and in Europe (where the first visiting cards began).
While early visiting cards were often social in nature, the transition from trade cards to business cards was primarily designed to promote business.
New materials and styles have exploded to offer world-class design alternatives for business cards. Some of these materials and styles for printed business cards include:
In addition to materials and styles, the options for designing and ordering business cards today are easy and efficient:
- Design business cards online using a design template and images by a commercial printer
- Build your own design with home-base software programs and upload your design to a commercial printer
Although today’s business card has varied uses, meanings, and etiquettes among countries, it is still the most common tool for introducing and maintaining business contacts and information. Business card content is ever changing as technology continues to evolve in our virtual world, but we typically print a business card to include a company and individual name, a logo, and contact information such as website, email, phone, and fax. As websites become readily available, business card content may include only the basics depending on the nature of a business. The ability to point potential customers to a website leaves business card design options wide open. Striking and trendy business cards using interesting and unique materials and designs compete heavily in today’s business world.
Times have changed, calling cards and trade cards have evolved, and we have moved into a virtual world of technology, but the fact remains, business cards resound with a face-to-face first impression, whether we meet our customers in person or online. A business card is perhaps the single most important marketing tool. A business card may be the key to your success.