Vintage Dance Cards of the 19th Century
The dance card was a courtly tradition in which women had preassigned dance partners for each dance at the event. The tradition was convenient and inclusive. No wall-flowers allowed at these events. When you consider today’s jr. high dances (and even some weaker high school ones) in the auditorium or cafeteria with boys swaying nervously on one side staring at the girl’s busily chatting away on the other, the dance card is a far more social, viable alternative.
The dance cards featured above come in all different shapes and had multiple purposes. Some had hard cases which allowed for more ornamentation and durability for reuse; one featured above has a clock attached. Others double as fans - which makes sense considering the increase in temperature when people really got moving. The shoe-shaped card is the most creative, although the others, especially the one featuring mother of pearl, are stunning.
All are from the 19th century with the earliest dating to 1850 (the peacock cover). They represent beautiful visions of the past and remind us of a time when leaving a woman standing alone was not considered “good taste”.