Bad pick-up lines are usually associated with sleazy men in bars and modern-day Tinder Lotharios, not Victorian-era ladies and gentleman.
We tend to think of the nineteenth-century as a far more conservative and romantic time when mingling between the sexes was restricted to dances where everyone was dressed in their finest and on their best behavior.
When finding a husband or wife was the name of the game, unauthorized fraternizing was strongly discouraged. There were limited opportunities to engage in flirting, particularly in high society, but the heart will always find a way to get what it wants and the nineteenth century was no exception.
This is where the ‘escort card,’ also known as the ‘invitation card’ came into the picture.These cards were used mainly by men to gain the attention of the ladies they found attractive.
The cards did away with the inconvenience of having to find a mutual acquaintance for an introduction. All an amorous man had to do was exchange a look and then slip the card into a lady’s hand in passing, putting the onus on her to name a time and a place for an ‘interview.’
Much like pick-up lines today, escort cards were not taken very seriously, but were seen as a bit of harmless fun. The cards came in a variety of designs with pick-up lines ranging from amusing to just plain cringe-inducing.
‘Two souls, but with a single thought; two hearts that beat as one,’ might be considered as coming on a little strong considering the target of affection was not yet even an acquaintance.
You do have to appreciate the thriftiness of the gentleman who asks a potential romantic partner if he may accompany her home, then entreats her to return the card if her answer is no.
It’s hard to imagine any woman in a tight corset and layers of petticoats, being bowled over by such sentiments, but escort cards were very popular for many years and who knows how many clandestine affairs they were responsible for!
Screengrab via: YouTube