A History of Business Cards


These days we take for granted that business cards are cheap to produce and every second person has one. But before the days of widespread printing business cards were exceptionally expensive. They were reserved for the elite and upper middle classes only.

As far as I can tell they originally came from the French court etiquette of the 19th Century. These visiting cards then made their way to America, Europe and Australia. Some contained engraved coat of arms, hand sketched flowers and even lithographed details. I don’t think they ever got 1,000 business cards for $55.00!

The early business cards were adapted to trading cards when lithography became less expensive. These days we see trading cards all the time for sports teams, with really cheap chewing gum enclosed.

I’ve really found it difficult to get many good quality images of old business cards but here is a small selection of what i could find. If you have any more you would like to add feel free to send me an email (full credit will be given).

Inspiration - 10 Aug 2011 - by Rob Jennings

About Rob Jennings

When he found himself embroiled in a conversation with someone talking about their ‘customer-centric core competencies’ he realised it was time to create a Web Design Agency that was less about self promoting buzz-words and more about people and giving them the tools to understand the web.

The idea behind We Push Buttons was to create an environment where business owners can learn about building their organisation, whether it be with an outstanding website, SEO or any other marketing ideas. Coming from the art industry and online retail background he knows first hand the needs of growing a business in a tough environment.