History Of Business Cards

History Of Business Cards

in Tips & Tricks on August 25, 2019

After graduation I was really hawking myself for a job in many places. Some place I knew, some I didn’t. The news of vacancies came from a lot of people. So essentially I met quite a lot of people. I would meet them for liaison and networking purposes. All of these meetings curiously ended with them handing me their business card. In about a month or so I had amassed a bundle of cards in my wallet.

One day I came home from one such meeting. I flopped down on the bed and annoyingly my wallet bumped up against my left posterior. I took out most of the cards out and started shuffling through them. I saw that none of the cards were of the same type. It seemed like the owners of the cards were imprinted on these cards. So I did my research and here I am.

For maniacs of modern rectangular page related knowledge, I welcome you to a brief history of Business cards. It contains what a business card is and how it has changed throughout history.

What is a Business Card?

A business card is a small piece of paper, usually rectangular in shape. It contains imagery, design and fonts. It displays information in a brief manner. Usually these cards are made for individual professionals, but businesses also have cards as well. A business card displays information about a person’s identity, address and credentials. For professionals this business card is a must have for networking and introductory purposes.

Even in this day and age of smartphones and easy documentation, it’s savvy and a tradition of sorts to exchange business cards. Maybe because of how much physical presence is ingrained in our conscience, as a sign of substance.

What is the design for an ideal business card?

An ideal model of something sums up what the object used to look like and what’s the visual standards of present day. An ideal model is strangely an amalgamation of past and present in that regard. So an ideal business card has the following attributes.

Dimensions and shape: As we mentioned above the standard business card has a rectangular shape. It’s dimensions are 2 by 3 inches.

Elements: There are some elements of a business card design. These are both graphical and fontwise. These elements usually include

Business Logo : It is a kind of a must have for any business related card. As it is named the ‘business card’ it usually has the icon or branding of the business. If anyone has an individual card it should have the logo of the organization she works in

Motto or slogan: This is merely optional. Big wigs of big corporations usually have a motto or slogan of the company printed on their business cards.

Credentials: This portion includes a very short summary of the individuals educational & professional certifications. Originally this part is longer to describe so it’s generally a good practice to give a short overview of credentials unless the card real estate is a whole book!

Address & Contact Details: This is the most critical part of a business card. It has the main information other people look for when given a business card. So it is usually centered on the card and is highlighted accordingly.

Web address: In modern times usually it is a good perk to have a business website. And that should also be highlighted in the card

Social Media contacts: Like the website, this is also a product of modern technologies. If there are social media links it helps to print the links in a short manner on to the card.

How and where the Business Cards started

Now let’s get to the meat of the story.

Beginnings: Now the start of the business cards isn’t much definitive. Each historian has very different versions of inception of business cards. But most of them agree with the practice of the business cards started around the 17th century. With the industrial revolution booming around England and also dynamic social change in Europe businesses flourished and eventually there was a convenient contact and networking medium was needed. Thus came the business cards:

Use cases : Business information was very much vital for businesses in those days. So traders started using “trade cards” which was a variation of a business card. These cards showed the addresses of businesses and the names of the people. Carrying a card such as this started to become a fad of sorts during the 18th and 19th century

Aristocrats saw the use of cards as a show of distinguishment. In social gatherings they used to take the business cards and submit in the reception or to the butler of the establishment. There was a special card etiquette in these gatherings. Like nobody looked at other people’s cards in a social gathering. Each folding meant a different thing. Folded Corners meant cards presented in person while cards folded in the middle meant the card was meant to be seen by the whole family members.

Progression of use

As the 20th century rolled around the use of business cards moved away from the social etiquette more and more. As businesses became much more prominent level of social class than noble houses or families, the business card also became a part of the professional’s portfolio.

The designs initially was a block or a square and the cards were simple in design and large. But as professionals and corporate culture started becoming a social standard the cards became smaller and more rectangle shaped. Designs were becoming much more pronounced. Ultimately in the 60s decade the universal shape and design of the traditional business card came into the forefront..


Now as more and more design centric technology is evolving, so are the designs of the business cards. Now cards come in many shapes, sizes and designs that could have never been thought of even as recent as 20 years ago. You can even have your own face plastered on the card. The personalization of the cards is a big swing in the right direction. Now there are cards made of wood, platinum and God! Who knows? Maybe we’ll even have a holographic card maybe in the coming years.

Categories: Tips & Tricks