Acquaintance Cards: The Polite Way to Say “Can I Follow You Home?”

Getting a date in Victorian times was a little more complicated than setting up a profile and swiping right. Etiquette dictated when and how people should be introduced, when they could be visited, and what was appropriate behavior for an unmarried couple. For the more brazen young man, there were acquaintance cards—the 19th century equivalent of “hey, girl, can I have your number?” You know, for the time before phones. 

These overtly flirtatious calling cards used in America in the 1870s and 1880s “were handed out by young men who waited outside after church or dances, hoping to escort a certain person home,” according to a 1992 book by the women’s lifestyle magazine Victoria

“Flirtatious and fun, the acquaintance card brought levity to what otherwise might have seemed a more formal proposal,” designer Maurice Rickards writes in his book The Encyclopedia of Ephemera. “A common means of introduction, it was never taken too seriously.” One Boston company sold the cheap novelty cards at 1000 cards for $1.35; another, in Ohio, sold 20 personalized cards for 10 cents.

In the modern era, some of these quips would be a serious reason to call the police. For ye olden days, they were pretty raunchy, as a set of acquaintance cards put online by collector Alan Mays shows. 

Some samples of the prim Victorian version of street harassment: 

While some were polite, others indicated that refusal wasn't going to be taken well by the suitor. “May I have the pleasure of escorting you home this evening? If so, keep this card. If not, please may I sit on the fence and see you go by?” one reads. Another variation: “May I see you home? Or will I have to set on the fence and watch you meander by?”

Cheeky titles and boldly sexual overtures reigned. 

One lists the bearer as a “kissing rogue,” with a sideline business in hugging; another purports that a man is a “ragtime millionaire.” “Love made on short notice,” one declares. 

Some flirtation cards were straight-up poetic. “Fair Lady: may I become the proud bird who shall accompany you to your leafy bower,” one asks (see top image), “or must I suffer the misery of seeing you borne away in triumph by that individual whose chromotintype appears at the right.” On the right of the card is an illustration of a donkey. Another reads: “Your coral lips were made to kiss, I stoutly will maintain; and dare you say my lovely miss, that aught was made in vain?” 

Many prove cheesiness is timeless when it comes to pick-up lines: “Come see our new lamp. You can turn it down so low that there is scarcely any light at all,” a particularly creepy one reads. “P.S. Our sofa just holds two.” Mmm, yes, tempting offer there. 

Often they included an option to refuse, sort of like a middle school love note. “May I.C.U. Home?” one inquires, with an option for “Yes!” and “No!” on either side of the small card. (Presumably you didn't actually have to check one off and hand it back to the dude, but nice that the option to say no existed.) 

And of course, nothing declares your affections for a lady like subtle hints of misogyny and bitterness. “Should we ever be married, promise me / You will never leave your mark on me,” reads a card displaying a man with a bruised and bandaged head. Another is filled with verse decrying a lady who, after a gentleman “bought her candy, nuts, and clothes, / took her to all the circus shows,” still ran away with another man. The nerve! 

Thank god we can just sext now. Peruse the full collection over on Flickr

[h/t: Boing Boing

All images via Flickr courtesy Alan Mays.

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Romano D’Agostini, Giorgio Cargnel, Soprintendenza Speciale di Roma
Utility Workers May Have Found One of Rome’s First Churches
Romano D’Agostini, Giorgio Cargnel, Soprintendenza Speciale di Roma
Romano D’Agostini, Giorgio Cargnel, Soprintendenza Speciale di Roma

The remains of what may have been one of Rome’s earliest Christian churches were accidentally discovered along the Tiber River during construction, The Local reports. The four-room structure, which could have been built as early as the 1st century CE, was unearthed by electrical technicians who were laying cables along the Ponte Milvio.

The newly discovered structure next to the river
Romano D’Agostini, Giorgio Cargnel, Soprintendenza Speciale di Roma

No one is sure what to make of this “archaeological enigma shrouded in mystery,” in the words of Rome’s Archaeological Superintendency. Although there’s no definitive theory as of yet, experts have a few ideas.

The use of colorful African marble for the floors and walls has led archaeologists to believe that the building probably served a prestigious—or perhaps holy—function as the villa of a noble family or as a Christian place of worship. Its proximity to an early cemetery spawned the latter theory, since it's common for churches to have mausoleums attached to them. Several tombs were found in that cemetery, including one containing the intact skeleton of a Roman man.

Marble flooring
Romano D’Agostini, Giorgio Cargnel, Soprintendenza Speciale di Roma

A tomb
Romano D’Agostini, Giorgio Cargnel, Soprintendenza Speciale di Roma1

The walls are made of brick, and the red, green, and beige marble had been imported from Sparta (Greece), Egypt, and present-day Tunisia, The Telegraph reports.

As The Local points out, it’s not all that unusual in Rome for archaeological discoveries to be made by unsuspecting people going about their day. Rome’s oldest aqueduct was found by Metro workers, and an ancient bath house and tombs were found during construction on a new church.

[h/t The Local]

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Alexis Pantos, University of Copenhagen
Scientists Just Found the Oldest Known Piece of Bread
Alexis Pantos, University of Copenhagen
Alexis Pantos, University of Copenhagen

An old, charred piece of long-forgotten flatbread has captured the interest of archaeologists, anthropologists, and historians around the world. Found in a stone fireplace in Jordan’s Black Desert, this proto-pita dates back 14,400 years, making it the oldest known example of bread, Reuters reports.

To put the significance of this discovery in context: the flatbread predates the advent of agriculture by 4000 years, leading researchers to theorize that the laborious process of making the bread from wild cereals may have inspired early hunter-gatherers to cultivate grain and save themselves a whole lot of trouble.

“We now have to assess whether there was a relationship between bread production and the origins of agriculture,” Amaia Arranz-Otaegui, a researcher with the University of Copenhagen, told Reuters. “It is possible that bread may have provided an incentive for people to take up plant cultivation and farming, if it became a desirable or much-sought-after food.”

A report on these findings—written by researchers from the University of Copenhagen, University College London, and University of Cambridge—was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

It was once thought that bread was an invention of early farming civilizations. A 9100-year-old piece of bread from Turkey was previously regarded as the oldest of its kind. However, the Jordanian flatbread was made by a group of hunter-gatherers called the Natufians, who lived during a transitional period from nomadic to sedentary ways of life, at which time diets also started to change.

Similar to a pita, this unleavened bread was made from wild cereals akin to barley, einkorn, and oats. These were “ground, sieved, and kneaded prior to cooking,” according to a statement from the University of Copenhagen. The ancient recipe also called for tubers from an aquatic plant, which Arranz-Otaegui described as tasting “gritty and salty."

[h/t Reuters]

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