Friday, February 19, 2010

Is your dance card full?

On Monday my friend Cindy and I took the day off. We went out for lunch and visited some of our favorite antique haunts around St. Louis. Once of those was a little shop in University City called Meli Melo. We were surprised and saddened to see that the shop was empty--closed for good.

The space was diminutive, but the owner kept it stocked with the most wonderful, carefully curated items. I liked it because she always had unusual pieces of ephemera: rolls of London newspapers from the 1850s, in such good condition that at first I thought they were reproductions; a set of small, narrow leather covered journals filled with the tiniest spidery script; and paper fans, beautiful, fragile paper fans.

And these: a collection of dance cards. I had to have them.

Vintage dance card cover

This one is from an Annual Military Ball given by the University of Illinois Regiment, April 10, 1903.

Vintaage dance card spreads

Dance cards w group photo

Dance card spread

The ties originally had tiny pencils attached to them. These were used by a gentlemen to sign a lady's dance card, reserving a dance with her.

Dance cards, or Ballspenden as they are known in German, appear to have originated in the 18th century, but their use became widespread in 19th century Vienna. These are slightly later, dating from the early 1900s.



Ludid said...

i simply love the background or history of these wonderful dance cards. i hope my dance card never gets full because i just want to keep dancing.

Aleutie said...

Wow this is a such an amaizing find! Such a pity that the store was closed. Do you mind me asking how much those cost?

Secret Leaves said...

Hi Aleutie. Not sure exactly how much they cost, but I'm sure they weren't expensive. I never pay much for my ephemera stuff. As a point of reference, their beautiful paper fans were $5 each, as were the London newspapers. I think these may have been $3 apiece--or something like that?

Yes, it is SUCH a shame this little store closed. It was tiny, but so well curated. I loved going in there. : (


heather jenkinson said...

Oh, those are beautiful! I love the story that goes with them too. Wouldn't we all, secretly, love to have a dance card?