"To the unrefined and underbred, the visiting card is but a
trifling bit of paper; but to the cultured disciple of social law,
it conveys a subtle and unmistakable intelligence. Its texture,
style of engraving, and even the hour of its leaving combine to
place the stranger, whose name it bears, in a pleasant or a
As this extract from Our
Deportment, Or the Manners, Conduct and Dress of the Most Refined
Society by John H. Young, 1881, so wonderfully
illuminates, the visiting or calling card was an essential
accessory to any proper Regency or Victorian lady or gentleman.
These diminutive cards, supplied by the local printer in small
batches, served not just as a letter of introduction or aide
memoire, but as an indicator of social class and good manners.
And the cases in which they were carried were status-enhancing
From the ATG Archive
27 March 2013
Silver smallwork is a designated area of the silver market in its own right but even this particular sector has its own sub-divisions.
13 December 2008
SO-CALLED castle-top boxes represent a fascinating moment in British social history. Fashioned by the silver ‘toy’ makers of Birmingham, these vinaigrettes and card cases engraved or die-stamped with British landmarks were seemingly marketed as tourist souvenirs.
13 December 2008
Recently sold at auction, three examples of the well-known Nelson memorial vinaigrette made by Matthew Linwood of Birmingham in 1805 sold for markedly different prices – and for good reason.
ATG Site Search
04 March 2014
The commercial fortunes of Victorian silver ‘castle top’ card cases, engraved or embossed with views of British landmarks, depend primarily on the scarcity of the scene depicted.
06 November 2008
Smallwork remains one of the most collectable areas of the silver market, and Dorchester auctioneers Duke's will be aiming to tempt enthusiasts for one particular corner of this arena later this month.
05 November 2011
Gordon Bramah, a descendent of the lock-making dynasty, collected silver smallwork for 28 years.
04 August 2008
Two major silver collections will be sold by UK provincial salerooms in the autumn season. Edinburgh-based auctioneers Lyon & Turnbull will offer for sale the first part of the Chen collection in London on November 23, while Salisbury’s Woolley & Wallis will complement their October silver sale with a single-owner catalogue devoted to the collection of the late George Petzall.
23 January 2010
WHEN St John Price bought his first sycamore and penwork box from Halcyon Days in Brook Street, London for £30 in 1966, the term Mauchline ware was yet to be invented.
27 July 2005
To collectors of the so-called castle-top card cases, subject matter is everything. Pictured here is a great rarity.