These 19th Century Pickup Lines Will Make You Long For a Time Before Tinder

Source: Alan Mays/Flickr

Dating in today's world means enduring a steady onslaught of awkward first messages, unsolicited sexts and, perhaps worst of all, the dreaded Tinder pickup line

In the late 19th century, dating unfolded along a smoother process: acquaintance cards.

Like the more formal calling cards that were popular in America in the 1870s and 1880s, these "escort cards" and "invitation cards" contained a brief message, illustration and a space to fill in your name and a time to meet, according to the Encyclopedia of Ephemera. Given by men to "less formal" women, acquaintance cards were a flirtatious and cheeky way to introduce yourself without the stakes being too high.

It may sound like something a pickup artist would use at a bar, but plenty of the cards have a subtle humor that was intended to break the ice, according to collector Alan Mays. "At a time when chaperones were common, cars were absent, and visits took place in the parlor, 'May I.C.U. home' simply meant, 'May I walk with you (and your family and friends) to your front gate or door?'" Mays told Mic.

Witty, flirty cards you can slyly pass along without any pressure for a formal invitation? We'd trade our dick pics and upskirts for these any day.

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Kate Hakala

Kate is a freelance writer and regular contributor to Mic. A former editor of Nerve, her writing has also appeared in the The New York Times, Playboy, Refinery29, Salon, and The Daily Dot. On most days she is thinking of Louis C.K.

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