Swapping business cards is a normal thing to do when you meet someone you want to keep in touch with who has achieved the status of being a socialite, but where does it all begin? What led us to the habit of swapping out a small print card to make sure colleagues and other work contacts can stay in touch with each other?

Early days

It all began in Europe in the sixteenth century, perhaps in France, when gentlemen used playing cards to write notes to each other, and the acceptance of playing card games was a polite endeavor until they were accepted as legally binding documents. The note could be a debt receipt, a money promissory note, or a business agreement, and they were known as “holder cards” in recognition of the fact that once the card was signed, the bearer had a contract in his hand.

Business Cards Emerge

In the late nineteenth century, the metal business cards as we see it today began to appear in the United States, where a clear distinction was made between a visiting card and a business card. Visiting cards were social kindness, used, and well done by the elite.

Business cards also contain the name and details of the person distributing them, but they have been used by stores and businesses more widely to promote themselves. Using the business card for social purposes was considered very bad behavior, implying that they were promoting the business. So for the first time, the premium business card appeared.

As contact cards are becoming less and less preferred, the business card has become the main means of passing your details on to someone else. As business card printing has evolved, so has the range of designs that can be included, but the basic principle is the same. It serves as a reminder of who you are, what you do, how someone can relate to you, and in that respect, there seems to be a lot to stay.