The Calling Card Case
Common amongst the aristocracy of Europe during the 18th century, the practice of leaving calling cards became a requirement within genteel society by the turn of the century. An etiquette around calling cards developed that was essentially dependent upon the bearer being received by a servant - the practice therefore was confined to the affluent social classes.
With the requirement for calling cards came the need for card cases. With earliest surviving examples dating from the 1830s onwards, card cases were made from a variety of materials from gold, silver and agate to tortoiseshell, mother-of-pearl, ivory, lacquered papier-mache and leather, as well as a diversity of decorative woods. Some were works-of-art in their own right - but also a means of displaying one's affluence.
Variations in construction include hinged or push-fit tops, side or top opening and with some designed to fan out when opened. Some gentlemen's cases were curved - designed to sit more comfortably in a waistcoat pocket, whilst ladies' cases tended to be larger. The variety of constructions and designs make them very popular with collectors.
More on the etiquette of calling at Victoriana Magazine.