Today, the business card is one of the most important tools that business professionals can have at their disposal and business card printing has become very important. It gives a first impression of a business and is instrumental in creating networks between business peers. However, business cards were not always just for businesspeople.
Before they became synonymous with business, they were known as calling cards. In the 17th century, aristocratic men and woman would usually hand their calling cards to a butler when paying a visit to a friend or an acquaintance. Many of the cards, which were about the same shape and size as a playing card, were blank but others had woodblock designs printed on them. As the years went by, the cards became fancier and more ornate. It was not until the early 20th century in the United States that business cards began to be seen as an important business accessory.
While the etiquette of exchanging business cards has never been as formal as with calling cards, there are still some rules that most people follow. However, some of these rules are falling by the wayside as many parts of business are becoming less formal. Traditionally, business cards are only supposed to be handed out using the right hand, must never be written on, should be carried in a holder, and should have a translation on the back if they will be exchanged in a foreign country. Business cards today can also come in any size, shape, or material.