Thursday, June 09, 2005

It's time to pull a book or two from our Charlie Chan Library Shelf!
Our Tuesday (for June only) Night Chat Room* has Jimmy Chan with his own business cards. I don't couldn't find anything about those kind of cards but I can help with the social use of calling calls back in the days when Charlie Chan in Honolulu was made.

A modern calling card, courtesy of
To quote the etiquette maven, Miss Manners:
"Social cards were the voice mail of their day. That is, leaving them on friends indicated that you had attempted to deliver your message directly even if you had timed the delivery so as to avoid doing so. The code system of corners bent saved you (and those nice white kid gloves you wore when you went calling) from having to write out the message.
"A card with its upper left corner bent forward means 'I was here, and sorry not to find you in.'
"A bent upper right corner means 'Congratulations.'
"A bent lower right corner means 'Condolences.'
"Finally, a bent lower left corner means, 'I'm leaving town, so goodbye.'"
(Courtesy of
From "The Army Wife" by Nancy Shea; Harper & Brothers, publishers; third edition; page 159:
"In some circles, such as the United States Army, it was tradition prior to World War II to write 'p.p.c.' (pour prender conge [meaning 'to take leave']) in the lower left hand corner instead of bending it."
"The Army Wife," page 81:
"It was also customary for people to have joint calling cards as well as the officer and his wife to have their own cards. They could leave one card and the officer leaving one of his when calling on another couple. It could get tricky when calling on a household without joint cards or with several members of a family because the officer left a card for each person called on while his wife left cards for each lady called on: 'A lady NEVER calls socially on a man; so she leaves a card for each adult woman only. An officer leaves a card for each person called on."
*From 8:00 to 10:00 (EDT) at


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