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.
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.