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Keep in touch with old-fashioned calling cards
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Sandy Meredith of Clermont keeps up with the old Victorian tradition of passing out calling cards to friends and other people she meets. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

When Sandy Meredith retired in September, she never thought she would miss her business cards.

But as time went by, Meredith would meet people and have nothing to give them - a vast change from her former life as a Realtor.

So, she decided to take a hint from Victorian tradition and get calling cards printed.

"I read a lot of Victorian books, from the U.K., and everybody had a calling card. And all it had on it was their name, though, and it was written in script," she said. "When they came to somebody's house they gave their card to the butler at the door, so the butler would know who the owner had visiting the house.

"The butler would put the card on a silver tray and if the owner of the house wasn't home, when they got back the card would be waiting in the foyer on the silver tray."

Meredith, along with her husband Ted, have their calling cards displayed on a side table in the foyer of their North Hall home.

For her own cards, Meredith chose a Victorian scroll design and an oval photo. Ted has an outdoors theme.

"I like Victorian and they use the oval, and that's why I put my picture inside of an oval and not a square. And I didn't want my picture to be very big," she said. "I do a lot of antiquing and I meet a lot of the dealers and get to know them, and I thought if I had my picture on there it would help them remember who I am."

Karen Wiggins, owner of Not Just Stationary in Gainesville, said calling cards are a common item ordered at her stationary store.

"A lot of times, once people are retired ... instead of writing down their name and their number for people who they meet and keep in touch with them, they'll have a card made," she said. "With their name and phone number or address, so they can give it to their acquaintances so they can keep in touch."

Wiggins said even children and parents are having the cards made these days.

"We do a lot of them for kids even for using them like a gift enclosure. Rather than buying a birthday card for $2.50 they will just buy that, drop it in the gift," said Wiggins, who added that parents will sometimes get them to give to the children's teacher at school.

The multipurpose calling cards also take on a more casual look than business cards.

"Some will have a decorative border around it, instead of looking so much business it will be a little more casual, playful," Wiggins said.

Emory Turner, a local retiree, chose a landscape scene for his calling card. The watercolor background has billowing clouds and a green-leafed tree on the right, his name, address, phone number and e-mail address on the left.

Turner didn't start giving out calling cards as a way to be traditional. He said it was for convenience.

"Actually, I was on the Internet scrolling through and I ran across Vista Print and I liked the cards and they were also free, so I jumped on it," he said. "It will save you from getting a pencil and a piece of paper and write all that information down."

Meredith added that people shouldn't assume you need a job to have cards printed.

"I think it would be wonderful for someone that doesn't have a job and they are looking for a job, because then they have something to give out that is professional looking."

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