This mother-of-pearl card case and unusual wooden-veneer calling card belonged to Mrs George Hendry of Port Chalmers. The ritual of formal calls was common amongst the upper class in 19th-century New Zealand. A first-time visitor would be received at the door by a servant and would present her card. This would be taken to the lady of the house who, after examining it, would come to meet the visitor in person. If she was not in, she would later send her card to the visitor as a sign that she wished to meet. If she returned the visitor's card by post it was a sign that she did not want to extend her acquaintance.
Using this item
Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
Reference: PC000569/1 (top); PC000569/2 (bottom)
Permission of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa must be obtained before any re-use of this image.