19th Century Pickup Cards: Before Tinder And OK Cupid, This Was How The Game Was Played

Long before online dating, young men in the United States around 1870s to 1880s used pickup cards and hand them to women they found attractive. Alan Mays, a collector of such cards, said they were “used by the less formal male in approaches to the less formal female.”

You’d probably thought nineteenth-century courtship was all straight-laced and buttoned-down, but apparently, a printed card inquiring for permission to accompany a young miss to her door was also in play. The best part was how these gentlemen found plenty of ways to work clever jokes and insinuations into their calling cards. Think Barney Stinson, with an old-timey swag.

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