Wednesday, March 2, 2016

History of Business Cards, Greeting Cards & RSVPs

For as long as I can remember, I've always had a fondness for history. When I was young, I was constantly digging through history books. When the History Channel first came to be, it was my favorite TV station (though it's gone downhill considerably since then). Most recently, I was a trustee on the board for the Rockford Area Historical Society.

So of course when I have the opportunity to combine history with writing, I run with it. While at, I wrote a few blog posts about the history of some common printed items.

History of Greeting Cards. Though it might seem like holiday cards and greeting cards have only been around as long as Hallmark has been in existence, the first examples of what has evolved into today’s greeting card can be traced back to the ancient China and Egypt.

History of Valentine's Day Cards. Though Valentine messages haven't been around for quite as long, the oldest ones still in existence are almost 600 years old. They didn't really catch on until the late 1700s, and it wasn't until the 1800s that they started to resemble what we see today. 

History of the RSVP. RSVP is short for “répondez s’il vous plaît,” and translates into “reply if you please” or “please reply”. In that sense, the concept of an RSVP hasn't changed much since the 19th century, but how you respond to it (or don't respond) has. Let's just say the Francophones of the past may not be pleased if you didn't respond at all - yay or nay.

History of the Business Card. Ah, yes, the most ubiquitous piece of print in a professional's marketing arsenal. Seems like a modern invention that some Madison Avenue big shot created as way to advertise his expertise. But business cards roots extend back to Imperial China. That makes sense, when you consider that the Chinese are believed to have invented paper in the first place.

Yup, I love history. And etymology, which is basically the history of words and language. I also love science and politics, too. But before you get to thinking that everything around here is scholarly, I also love profanity. I'm excited to get back to writing about the things that I really enjoy exploring.

Sara Duane is a freelance writer in the Twin Cities area of the great state of Minnesota.