The History of Business Cards

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The History of Business Cards

When Johannes Gutenberg introduced printing to Europe thanks to the invention of the printing press (15th century), nobody could imagine that this new machine would bring so many useful supplies and equipment, such as what we now call business cards. These presentation cards had even more meaning on the 17th century when they were created and so widely used. I bet not even Johannes Gutenberg, a German blacksmith, goldsmith and inventor could imagine that nowadays we could all buy thousands or millions of business cards from home thanks to a new service we now call: Online Printing.

As we said, on the 17th century business cards were widely used, of course not as much as today, but the vast majority of aristocrats in Europe had their own. They were more or less the size of a poker card of the 21st century, and sometimes the cards were engraved with gold and typefaces.

The 17th century visiting cards would be presented by aristocrat footmen to the servants at the home of a host to announce the arrival of a distinguished guest. And as we said, there were decorated with ornaments and sometimes elegant coat of arms.

By the 19th century, many more people started using them and in some houses it was a ‘must have’ thing, as a part of the century´s protocol. Many high class houses had silver card trays on the hall table along with a pencil and a piece of paper. Whenever somebody came they had to leave their cards there and therefore, in the future, it served as a catalog of those who had visited the house before.

According to Convey, during the Industrial era … ” with the rise of the middle class, a decrease in social formality, and more efficient modern printing techniques, visiting cards and trade cards eventually merged into the precursor to our modern business card. The “business card” became a must have item across both Europe and the United States. This shift, however, was not always smooth. Many in the upper class resisted this merger, creating awkward cultural and social divides. “

But what happened next, in the 20th century? Well as you might imagine, business cards became absolutely essential both for important people and all kind of companies. Every customer would ask for your business card and it would be very weird if your company or brand wouldn’t have one by the 1950’s. It became the established norm even for small businesses and corporate executives.

By the 1980’s a whole culture arose around business cards, nobody could leave home without carrying their own personal or brand business cards, there is even a scene in the American Psycho movie that represents the contagious lunacy that every business man suffered towards business cards.

But the point here is that it is now easier than ever to create the most trendy, fashionable and amazing business cards without having to resort to expensive printing professionals. You just have to make your own design with programs like Photoshop or look for an online printing company like HelloPrint to get the most amazing designs ever, and receive as many copies as you want directly at your home or office.

By | 2019-01-20T13:26:46+00:00 January 20th, 2019|History|0 Comments

About the Author:

‘Dean Swift’ is a pen name: the author has been a soldier; he has worked in sales, TV, the making of films, as a teacher of English and history and a journalist. He is married with three grown-up children. They live in Spain.

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