The French claim that visiting cards first appeared in their land in the seventeenth century while the Chinese seek to prove that visiting cards were invented by their ancestors shortly after they had concocted explosive powder. However, the first ever known sample of a visiting card, dating back to 1786, was found in Germany. Gradually, with the development of certain rules of use, the cards had become common by the nineteenth century.
Do you know which corner of a visiting card you must fold when leaving it with a footman in order to indicate that you have called on to inquire after the master's health? No? Neither do I, but only a hundred years ago this knowledge was as vital for an aristocrat as dancing and polite conversation.
Visiting cards used to be an indispensable attribute of the etiquette and the rules of their use were as sophisticated as those of cutlery. At that time visiting cards belonged to the notions of such consequence like title, rank, land, horses etc.
First businessmen used their cards as marks of distinction and thus introduced the first modifications in their design. Later, as the growing demand for the cards boosted the development of the printing industry, more and more sophisticated card design patterns appeared.
On the other hand, there appeared an ever-growing social group of private entrepreneurs who had a constant need to exchange their contact information. These pragmatic people started to print out their own cheaper business cards to give them at presentations, exhibitions, conferences etc.
In the modern business card design, with its developed professional conventions, one can still detect the two conflicting approaches, the fanciful and the functional one. The purpose of the first approach is to show that there is nothing impossible for the card's owner. The more striking by its design and materials and the more sophisticated in its manufacturing technology, the card will be the better. What matters is the card's uniqueness. The content of the card does not matter much either.
The other approach, on the contrary, emphasizes functionality. It is the one that rules in the pragmatic West. And the English name of the item - "business card"- also focuses on its specific functionality. These cards are essential for those company workers that interact with clients. That is why, on the one hand, you can see a small clerk, a service engineer or even a heaver with his own business card and a head of the department without such if he or she does not interact with clients.
Business cards used to be made exclusively of stiff paper (card), but today come in materials from plastics to thin metals and even glass! A name or business card reflects the owner - it should represent visually the company or the person passing it. Take the time to have a closer look at your own cards and decide if they really suit you and your company.