This product was added to our catalog on Saturday 23 January, 2010.
otto” or “Conversation” cards show up in the stocklists of most mid-19th century stationers; it’s clear they sold well—used examples are common. The etiquette of relationship in the 19th century required the use of personal cards to initiate acquaintance and to maintain it; cards were presented personally or left in lieu of a face-to-face visit on a daily basis. Among the upper classes, these cards were engraved—and scrupulously chaste in design; keeping a stock of them represented an investment. But not only the rich used cards; pre-printed cards, with a place in which to write your name, were a solution for the middle and lower classes. These cards were anything but chaste in design! I have seen as many originals signed with male as with female names; quite a few have been signed in pencil rather than ink—another hint to the class of society who bought and used these cards.
There are four different designs: “THE MODEST ROSE. The modest Rose, where’er it grows,/A perfume round it flings;/Love’s chosen flower, to beauty’s bow’r;An added grace it brings.”; “FLOWERS. Day stars, that ope your eyes with morn to twinkle/From rainbow galaxies of earth’s creation/And dew-drops on her lovely altar sprinkle/As a libation:/Your voiceless lips, oh flowers, are living teachers [sic]/Each cup a pulpit, and each leaf a book,Supplying to my fancy numerous teachers/From loneliest nook.”; “BE PATIENT. The maid, whose manners are retired,/Who patient waits to be admired—Though overlooked, perhaps, awhile,/Her modest worth—her modest smile—/Oh! she will find or soon or late,/A noble, fond, and faithful mate.”; “SWEET MEMORY OF THEE. The brightest rose, when faded,/Flings forth o’er its tomb/Its velvet leaves, laded/With silent perfume./Thus around me will hover,/in grief or in glee,/‘Till life’s dream be over,/Sweet memories of thee.” Printed one side in metallic gold ink on glossy white cardstock, exactly matching the originals.
Besides the obvious use as personal cards, soldiers may consider keeping one in their wallet as a treasured memento of “the Girl I Left Behind Me.” Items such as this provide a silent witness to the larger world outside the reenactment camp or restored house; powerful out of all proportion to their size, they can be tinder and fuel for first-person interpretation of issues otherwise impossible to recreate in our impressions.
Sold as 2 dozen cards, 6 of each design.