correspondence etiquette Stationery traditions

Sending Signals: Folded Corners

Is it still proper to send coded messages by turning down specific corners of your correspondence or calling card?

In “Art Stationery and Usages of Polite Society,” published in 1879, George Carroll, one of our founders, touches on the Victorian etiquette around folding corners.  He describes which corners should be turned down depending on the type of message you’re sending…

  • The right-hand upper corner – signifies an upcoming visit
  • The left-hand upper corner – symbolizes a message of congratulations or in Carroll’s words, “felicitation”
  • The right-hand lower corner – implies that one is taking leave and saying goodbye
  • The left-hand lower corner – conveys a message of condolence

So, are we improper for leaving our cards flat?  The short answer: no!

In fact, the etiquette around folding card corners was relatively short lived.  Nearly 20 years after the publication of “Art Stationery and Usages of Polite Society,” rules concerning the turning of corners were bygone.  So, don’t sweat it- you don’t need to be sending coded messages via folded corners!

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