My dictionary says, correctly, that a salver is a tray, usually made of silver. And then it mentions that they're used for visiting cards, and suddenly I want to print myself some visiting cards and take them round the neighbourhood.
They'd be jolly useful, actually. They tell you things. For one thing, if you don't receive one in return then the message is conveyed that any further visit (which might involve meeting an inhabitant other than the maid) will be unwelcome.
Wouldn't that make life simpler?
Your maid (if well-trained) will also, of course, use a salver to bring in your letters (except that nowadays not many of us have maids, and letters tend to have such a brief existence between the doormat and the recycling bin that putting them on a salver would be ridiculous).
We're more likely to bring out something that might be called a salver for parties, where a food-tray thing for displaying what a friend's mother calls picky-bits is perennially useful.
But what most often goes on a salver round here, I'm afraid, is a restaurant bill. Or, in private houses, a small salver might provide a resting place for keys, paper clips, or the drips from vases of flowers.
It's enough to make us feel suddenly quite civilised, you know.
Spot the Frippet: salver. This word comes from the French salve from the Spanish salva, the tray from which the king's taster sampled food, from the Latin salvāre, to save.