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Elegant Business Card Cases

Updated on June 23, 2014

The Designer's Eye - Business Card Cases

Your handshake, your appearance... and your business card.

Those are the first things a new business contact knows about you. So... are you scrambling for that business card in your pocket or wallet? Is it... Bent? Dirty?

An elegant case to hold your cards is a must. And when you carefully put your new aquaintance's card away in a fine case, it suggests that you value it - and its owner.

(I myself use a very simple, beautifully crafted wooden card case that fits into a pocket, purse, or leather writing case. I treasure it. And always feel a little burst of extra confidence when I pull out a card from it to hand to someone.)

Now, the question arises... will we still use business cards in this e-business world? So far, the answer still seems to be "Yes." Sure we all tweet and email and dropbox and whatever, but there's just something very handy about those little rectangles of cardboard. My prediction is that they will be used somewhat less, but that they will remain symbolically important.

In the process of looking at biz stationary and holders and whatnot I had some fun finding historic business cards and the cards of famous people... Who knew business cardboard could be so interesting?

Anyway, here are a selection of well designed card cases - curated for you by a designer's eye.

EVERYONE has a business card.

William Carlos William's business card
William Carlos William's business card

Even poets.

This (and it thrills me to see it) is the card of the distinguished poet William Carlos Williams. As you see, that's William Carlos Williams M.D.

(Everyone has a day job too.)

Click on the Pic for an interesting little article at Open Culture about it.

Many designers design - even print - their own business cards. This is a great idea! But... remind your designer and artist friends that, however beautiful their hand-printed card is IT MUST BE LEGIBLE. And it's a good idea to include more than only the website address. An up-and-coming artist gave me his card the other day - beautiful - but when I got back to my desk with his hand-lettered card... I couldn't read it. Luckily my companion remembered the guy's name (I was guessing wrong)... but then his website - the only info on the card - had been hijacked that day. I only ever found him again by searching and then, days later, his website reappeared, but even now I have NO eMAIL contact! Why make finding yourself so hard?

Handing out your business card - public domain photo
Handing out your business card - public domain photo

Business Card Etiquette

There are a few social/business rules to remember when handing out business cards:

Basically... Don't hand out business cards until asked!

(Though it's okay to have them displayed on your desk if yours is that kind of business.) An unsolicited business card tends to get tossed. If you ARE asked for your card, it helps to jot a reminder on its back so that, two days from now, they'll remember what they talked to you about. Reciprocate when someone gives you their card, by giving one of your own.

And always remember these are BUISINESS cards. Don't force them into social situations or pester friends or family.

Yet, if asked, you should always have your business cards handy!

Eames Card Case - in black

The modern-classic design team of Charles and Ray Eames invented this pattern "Dots"... now adapted to a business card case by Acme Studio.

Mid-Century Modern is now very much in vogue - and the Eames practically invented the style.

Available in gray - even more stylish a design in black, I think. Simple and elegantly plain enough to enhance any type of business card, but perfect for anyone in a visual or design-oriented business.

Distinguished Cases

These cases are very individual - I particularly love the first one, which reminds me of collage art.

ACME Studios Standard Card Case Crops (CMW01BC)
ACME Studios Standard Card Case Crops (CMW01BC)

Love this complex pattern and subtle colors.

 

REALLY everybody has a business card.

Abraham Lincoln's business card
Abraham Lincoln's business card

(Or it seems like it.)

This was Lincoln's as a lawyer. Read the small print... it's pretty hilarious. Much funnier than any lawyer would dare make their card today. Then again, how many lawyers today are Lincoln?

Click the Pic to read the very interesting article on "The fascinating business cards of famous people" at the news.com.au. The famous bits of cardboard include Houdini, Walt Disney, and Mark Zuckerberg.

Steve Martin is not only famous but his CARD itself is justly famous: "This certifies that you have had a personal encounter with me and that you found me warm, polite, intelligent, and funny." Then he signed it.

Another card I like (not in this article) reads: "Isaac Asimov, natural resource."

Remember Business Cards

Those little pieces of cardboard don't do you any good if you forget them.

  1. Take Cards With You: You never know when you'll meet someone you'd like to leave with your contact information... but you forgot your cards. So put your card case right up there on your leaving-the-house checklist: keys? wallet/purse? biz-cards! Even if you're meeting friends and family - they may know someone who needs you and thus your card. If asked and ONLY if asked, you should always have a business card handy.
  2. Sometimes you may want to clip a business card onto an outgoing business letter. And the card itself makes a handy mini-note when you write on its back.
  3. When you get a card - give a card. Reciprocity is good business.
  4. Generosity! Cards are cheap - when appropriate, give contacts a couple cards so that THEY can hand out your cards if needed.

Make It Readable

I recently got a beautiful card from an artist with great little sketch, cool hand-lettering.

But trying to use it later I found...

I COULDN'T READ IT!

Eames House (Case Study House # 8)

The Eames House, photo borrowed from Kathy A. McDonald's Blog
The Eames House, photo borrowed from Kathy A. McDonald's Blog

Here's a view of the Eames' own house - a very famous one. The photo is taken from the adjacent meadow. Mid-century Modern at it's most pastoral.

Acme Studio

One of the leading manufacturers of stylish, elegant, and often witty, designer business card cases - plus other accessories like pens etc..

I'm very impressed with their level of design. (It'd be fun to collect these.)

Acme Studio business card case page

Look here for more from Acme studio

ACME Studios Standard Card Case Fingerprints (CJW01BC)
ACME Studios Standard Card Case Fingerprints (CJW01BC)

There's something very Contemporary Art witty about this case. Don't you wish they made refrigerators with this pattern?

 

A particularly beautiful Acme card case

Elegant, restrained, even severe in color, yet with lively delicate line-work... a noteworthy card case.

More on Business Card Etiquette

Whenever you're tempted to hand out your business cards like candy - take a deep breath. Know the best practices:

Handshake Etiquette

A well-timed and friendly handshake makes a good impression.

Use a firm - but not damaging!- grip.

Unusual Cases

These cases get a little more playful or colorful - still beautifully graphic.

But judge your audience and type of business first, of course. These may be too beautiful for all situations.

Advice on Business Cards

How your business card looks and what useful (or useless) information it contains are the real meat of the transaction... Think carefully about what impression your card makes.

The most basic question to ask is, "Will the person holding this card be able to get in contact with me efficiently," and then, "Is this card as simple and readable and EMPTY-looking as I can make it?" Don't overwhelm.

When in doubt, simpler and plainer is almost always best.

Wrightean Design

Coonley House windows, by Frank Lloyd wright
Coonley House windows, by Frank Lloyd wright

Frank Lloyd Wright designed architecture... including every part of his buildings. Like these famously beautiful stained glass windows from the Coonley House.

He was also particularly good a graphic designs that now translate well into patterns on scarves or, well, business card cases.

Frank Lloyd Wright

A design by America's most famous architect, adapted for this business card case.

ACME Studios Standard Card Case Coonley (CW35BC)
ACME Studios Standard Card Case Coonley (CW35BC)

"Coonley" is the FLW design with the circles.

 

History of Business Cards

Today's business card evolved from earlier personal calling cards... with maybe a little cross-pollination from advertising "trade cards." To this day there is an uneasy relationship in business cards between gimme-a-job! and just-bein'-friendly.

A history of business cards

A brief - but lavishly illustrated - history of the development of business cards at designerdaily.com.

A comprehensive history of business cards.

Worth reading!

A graphic evolution of business cards

At very cool graphical history at Moo.com - one of the most fashionable present day makers of such cards.

Inspirations from History

At youthedesigner.com some great illustrations of early calling and business cards.

Circuit board business card holder
Circuit board business card holder

High-Tech Style

As a designer, I think circuit boards are gorgeous... they have the accidental beauty of anything well engineered and an almost jewelry-like look.

This business card case is obviously appropriate for any computer related business, but it might be better appreciated as art if carried by an artist or other creative type.

Click the pic to visit Think Geek where it's sold.

Metal

Metal card cases have a slightly severe and high-tech vibe... And should stand up to heavy use. The carbon-fiber case IS high tech.

The ultimate "status" card case (at least in some circles) is probably Tiffany's sterling silver example:

Tiffany's

Their famous silver card case.

Blomus Stainless Steel Business Card Holder
Blomus Stainless Steel Business Card Holder

"Elegant" and "constructivist."... ought to appeal to many architects.

 

Business Meal Etiquette

Also talk about some pleasant subject other than work.

(And use your best table manners, of course.)

Links to More on Business Etiquette

It's a whole new world out in Business - especially if you're just graduating from school.

Learn the new lingo!

a wood business card holder by Masakage Tanno, image borrowed from Selectism
a wood business card holder by Masakage Tanno, image borrowed from Selectism

A breath-taking wooden business card holder by Masakage Tanno, featured on Selectism. (click the pic to follow)

This is the sort of fine craftsmanship and architectural thought that makes a really distinguished functional art object.

Wood

Wooden card cases are a bit more delicate (drop them and they may break), but they have a wonderful sensuous texture and warmth.

Pocket Sized Decorative Wood Business Card Holder Display Case Box
Pocket Sized Decorative Wood Business Card Holder Display Case Box

Doubling as a display stand is clever - and handy.

 

Mackintosh Card Case

This design is adapted from the work of Scottish Art Nouveau architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh. He and his wife designed a series of famous tea rooms in Glasgow, Scotland. Designs so beautiful that much of their furniture, stained glass and textile designs are still being made or still influence the design of things like... elegant card cases.

These Mackintosh roses are not just feminine and pretty, but pedigreed.

Art Nouveau Style

The Willow Tearooms sign, designed by Mackintosh, image borrowed from Art Deco Buildings
The Willow Tearooms sign, designed by Mackintosh, image borrowed from Art Deco Buildings

Charles Rennie Mackintosh (with his wife Margaret MacDonald's assistance) designed the Willow Tea Rooms in 1903. He had already worked on three other Glasgow tea rooms for the same owner - starting out doing murals and furniture, then designing an entire room at another tearoom, until, at the Willow Tea Rooms he was given complete control over all aspects of the design. Including this beautiful sign.

(Click the pic to read a little more about Mackintosh's tearooms.)

Cubical Etiquette

Don't "Prairie Dog."

Instead of popping your head up over your cubical wall like a prairie dog, walk around to talk nicely. Like a people.

Business Survival!

We all know it's a jungle out there - so be prepared.

Who was it who said, "Business is war by other means"?

(Actually it's a common misquotation of Karl Clausewitz: "War is the continuation of policy (politics) by other means." But it really does seem to apply to business doesn't it.)

Leather

Leather is a luxury choice, with that rich supple feel.

Of course, with that spiffy survival tool just above, you could probably kill and skin your own leather card case... makes that "Prairie dog" thing sound like an even worse idea, doesn't it? (Bad joke, bad joke, I know. But some days business does seem a little too survival of the fittest.)

kilofly Credit Business Card Holder Name Card Case - PU Lether, Red
kilofly Credit Business Card Holder Name Card Case - PU Lether, Red

Love the simplicity... and the color. (It comes in many others though.)

 

Collecting Cards - Explaining Antique Calling and Business Cards

A video that helps explain the complicated rules that applied to calling cards - the many ways to fold one, "calling" on families, a whole vanished world.

Worth Investigating...

Here are a few other sources for unusual and elegant biz card cases. Take a look.

What Have I Missed? - Suggestions?

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    • Srena44 profile image

      Srena44 5 years ago

      Nice lens

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      These are lovely! :)

    • cdevries profile image
      Author

      cdevries 5 years ago

      @cynthiannleighton: Thanks! I photo edited that design, so I appreciate the praise. Thanks for visiting.

    • cynthiannleighton profile image

      cynthiannleighton 5 years ago

      Hmmm... nothing I can think of! I enjoyed the lens. Intro photo's a gem:-)

    • MelonyVaughan profile image

      MelonyVaughan 5 years ago

      The business card cases featured here are simply stunning!

    • cdevries profile image
      Author

      cdevries 5 years ago

      @Deadicated LM: MOO seems like a good company - certainly nice cards! I'll have to look at their cases, thanks.

    • Deadicated LM profile image

      Deadicated LM 5 years ago

      Great ideas, I really enjoyed your Lens; I like Moo's cases too (and their business cards, albeit pricey but good quality).

    • cdevries profile image
      Author

      cdevries 6 years ago

      @ClassyGals: Thanks! They'd probably be good everyday, durable (yet stylish!) holders. Thanks for visiting.

    • ClassyGals profile image

      Cynthia Davis 6 years ago from Pittsburgh

      These are lovely business card cases, I especially like the leather ones.