Saturday 14 May 2016

Pick Up Victorian Style

When browsing around down here in the vaults you will  notice a large selection of various silver cases in the shops.
At first glance most people assume that most of these might be cigarette cases but, upon closer inspection,you soon realise they are far too slim to hold a cigarette.
They are, in fact, card cases and they can be found in many different styles most often embellished with engraving or decoration.
These little cases would have been a desirable item back in the day, as one would always need a calling card to hand to present upon arrival when turning up  at someone's home or business.
Unlike today, when business cards are most likely to be handed out between people who have genuine business, back in time the calling cards could serve another purpose; they could also be used as a way of wooing members of the opposite sex.
Handing out a saucy or witty card would certainly draw attention to yourself.
Of course, it was unlikely that a gentleman would be able to meet and chat up a respectable lady in a pub so, other means of offering up your best chat up line would have had to come into play.
If you look at the messages on these old acquaintance cards, as they were known, they were full of hopeful messages of pursuit.
Imagine, a handsome young man approaches and presents, with flourish, a card which reads:

May I have the pleasure of escorting you home this evening? If so, keep this card.  If not, please my I sit on the fence and see you go by?”

I think, if you got such a card today, you might be looking for the nearest police station to report  a stalker.
Or, maybe, one which reads:

Love made on short notice. Give me a trial before going elsewhere. Reduced rates to married women. Wholesale dealer in love,hugs,squeezes and kisses. PROFESSOR HUGGUM.
Samples free on request. Special attention to other fellow’s girls. No extra charge for work on Sundays. Office hours from 1 to won.


Well, obviously Professor Huggum didn’t mind if the lady he was pursuing was otherwise engaged and I do wonder how he could hand out such a card and not be set upon by the men of these damsels he was attempting to woo.

A few examples of these cards have been found in which women were the ones handing out the cards such as:

I am Anna ‘Butch’ Engle  Who the devil are you?

This card is emblazoned with a picture of a cheeky devil on it. I should imagine that Anna was quite a brazen character. A bit forward, don’t you think?

These cards went out of fashion after the Victorian era when, perhaps, the rules of dating became slightly more relaxed.
Today, even the way I, and my generation, used to date, seems somewhat outdated and old-fashioned.
In this world of Tinder and Grindr and all the rest, we can be searching for the one, anytime, anywhere, be it work on the train or even the bath. Technology allows people to choose an exact match without the pain of kissing too many frogs in the process.

Thankfully, I am lucky enough to have found my prince because, quite frankly, these new fangled ways are a bit beyond me and I wouldn’t know where to start.
It is a long way from the rather quaint and yet somehow a bit creepy days of the Victorian dating scene and I do wonder, whatever could be next.


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    In the dimly lit ballroom of the Victorian estate, where flickering candles cast a warm glow upon intricate tapestries and polished mahogany, Lord Harrington, impeccably dressed in tails and cravat, approached the captivating Miss Penelope.