Balls were the premier social events in Britain and the United States in the Victorian era. Dance cards were used by women to record the names of the gentlemen with whom they intended to dance each successive dance. Dance cards appear to have originated in the 18th century, but their use became widespread in 19th century Vienna at the same time that the waltz became popular.
An actual dance card is typically a booklet with a decorative cover, listing dance titles (waltz, quadrille, polka) in order of the program with a space for a man to pencil in his name to claim the dance with the young woman. Usually, there would be a decorative cord by which the card could be tied to a lady’s wrist or ball gown. Sometimes a pencil was also attached. Often the name of the sponsoring organization would be printed on the cover. In many towns it would be the local fire department that would have an annual ball.
This 1904 dance card has a chromolitho cover image of a fireman carrying a baby down a ladder from a burning building on the front and a fire hose, fire horn and fireman’s helmet on the back. It is from the 17th Annual Concert and Ball given by the Eagle Hose Co. No 1 of the Hillsboro, NH Fire Department at Childs’ Opera House on Thursday Evening February 4, 1904. The card measures 3 ½” x 4 ¾”. Inside is one folded paper page. The original cord, tin hinge and green pencil are attached. The order of dances began with a grand march and circle followed by multiple quadrilles, waltzes, and schottisches. There was a one-hour intermission and a hot turkey supper at Bruce’s Dining Room for 50¢. It is noted that there would be “no round dancing while sets are formed.”
The card is in very good condition with a few corner bumps, creases and light smudging to the cover. Please examine the photos and feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
While you are here, do enjoy the other dance card I have available for sale at this time. Thank you for visiting my shop today.