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The practice of placing prostitutes' cards in phone boxes is known as 'carding'. It is a particularly English phenomenon specific to London and the seaside resorts of Brighton and Hove where they serve a flourishing tourist trade. There have also been small outcrops of cards on the coast of North Lincolnshire that cater for a transient maritime population. Elsewhere in the UK, prostitutes still hold to the older methods of notices in shop windows although advertising in local newspapers is also used.
Behind the cards there is a vibrant and well-organised industry that comprises prostitutes, punters [clients], pimps and printers. It is an illicit business, but one that is thriving and persistent and where money changes hands swiftly and inconspicuously. Carding started as a kitchen table industry with a handful of prostitutes and their maids cutting out images, drawing their own illustrations, rubbing down lettering and then passing it all over to a trusted printer. It has developed into an extensive, professional, well-organised and highly technical production process that utilises the latest manufacturing systems. -Caroline Archer, from "Foreplay" the introduction to Tart Cards.