Many carry around a few business cards in their wallet or purse to hand out to prospective clients and don’t even really stop to think about them. The fact is that business cards have been around since the Middle Ages and therefore have evolved somewhat over time! Continue on to discover a few little known facts about business cards from the middle ages to present day.
The First Visiting Card
It is thought that the first card appeared in China roughly around the 15th century. These cards were used by aristocrats as a method of announcing an impending visit to someone. Many years later, this idea of the “visiting card” spread to England and France, quickly becoming an official form of etiquette amongst the upper class and this later caught on with the rest of Europe and America.
Trade cards originated from London in the 17th century and served to advertise specific services offered by a business. The card would normally have a map on it to help direct those who picked up the card to their store. Trade cards began as rather crude illustrations but advancements in the printing industry led to full colour designs complete with pictures. The beauty of the cards led to them being collectors’ items and businesses started to incorporate baseball players on one half of the card, with photos and information about their product or service on the other to make them more desirable.
Where Did the Business Card Come From?
With the upper classes using visiting cards and companies creating trade cards, business cards were born from the idea of giving details easily to others. Salesmen needed a method of ensuring their details were retained by those they met on a daily basis at trade shows, knocking door to door or simply in social situations.
Business Card Etiquette
Although we may see no problem with simply grabbing our cards from our wallet or purse, other cultures do things quite differently. In Korea, you must present a business card with both arms outstretched and in China, it is considered rude to write on another’s business card.
Take a moment to consider your business card and what it says about you; is it up to date? Is the design modern? If not it might be time to think about ordering some new ones. Don’t forget to read up on business card etiquette before travelling overseas to ensure you get off on the right foot with prospective clients.
Article by Guest Author
Sophie works alongside Amplitude, a brand design company that understand the importance of a current and well-designed business card.