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Benares House Gallery
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Calling Card Case: Wood with Inlay
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Title: Calling Card Case
Identifier: 979.6.1211.2
Donor: Geoffrey Sayers
Item Date: 1870-1900
Creation Date: 2011
Location: Benares Historic House

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Description: An inlaid calling card case in an East Indian motif. There is a central rectangular pattern of circles with various outlines inlaid in green, white, dark blue and black. The top is detachable.

Calling cards were business size cards bearing the name of a person who is presented when making a house call. They were an essential accessory to all 19th Century middle and upper class men and women. Calling cards were an indication of breeding and many guidelines were in place for their style and use. Calling cards also required cases, which came in various styles and designs. The calling card ritual began originally as morning calls. These visits usually happened in the afternoon and were important for meeting a well connected family, offering condolences, or for maintaining a friendship. The calling card played an important role in these visits and was the responsibility of women. A card would be left for all members of the family and could also be left on a husband's behalf. A visit with the mistress of the house could be requested although the visitor would only be expected to stay for 20 minutes and would not remove his or her outerwear.

This may have been given as a gift to one of the Harris women by Percy Sutherland, a cousin of Mary Harris. He owned an exporting business and often sent gifts to the Harris family. Percy was a collector of Chinese Art and donated his collection to the McGill University Gallery.
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