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 usually 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. Typically, the name of the sponsoring organization would be printed on the cover and 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.
This unused 1880 dance card is particularly beautiful, made from the same embossed and gilded paper lace used in valentines of this period reinforced with an additional paper backing. A scrap of a chatting couple decorates the front cover oval, and a flirting couple scrap is on the back. The card measures 3” x 4 ¾”. Inside are two thin paper pages. The original green cord is attached but there is no pencil.
The card is from the 3rd Grand Annual Ball of the “Popular Micks” at Prof. Webster’s Dancing Academy held on February 9, 1880. No location is listed but a little digging uncovered another Professor Webster’s Dancing Academy event in the records of the Delaware Historical Society and a classified listing in the 1884 Wilmington, Delaware Daily Republican so I’m guessing that Wilmington, DE is its location. A quadrille began the evening followed by waltzes, a mazourka, a schottische, and Pop Goes the Weasel among many others. The evening ended with a quadrille “to the missing Mick”.
The card is in excellent condition although I think the pages have toned with age and there is a small chip to the bottom of the first page. Please examine the photos and feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
While you are here, do enjoy the other dance cards I have available for sale at this time. Thank you for visiting my shop today.
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