Cartouche with the engraved script initials "M.C.L." and maker's mark on hinged lid "N.M." The card case was the symbol of social etiquette in the 19th century. Social customs were very important to Victorians, and the Lees were a social family. Because of her father’s position as George Washington's grandson and their many relatives throughout the region, Mrs. Lee entertained a lot or was entertained.
Presidents, vice presidents, senators, congressmen, and other notables, as well as strangers and tourists, visited Arlington frequently. These social calls required a great deal of effort by Mrs. Lee and her family to be welcoming hosts. They also traveled themselves, staying at the homes of relatives or visiting for a morning or an afternoon. The custom of the day, especially among the upper class who could afford it, was to leave a calling card at the homes they visited, especially when the homeowner wasn’t there to receive them.