I collect dance cards. I consider them dainty reminders of daintier times and prettier customs. Imagine one, dangling from the powdered wrist of a lovely, hopeful debutante as she and her partner waltzed, schottisched, galoped, did the polka, quadrille ("…change lobsters, and retire in same order"), foxtrot, tango, Black Bottom or the Lambeth Walk!
My collection contains 70-75 cards, in date ranging from 1875 ('First Annual Invitation Ball of the Clinton Coterie') to 1947 ('Adah H. Patterson Junior Guild Presents Barnyard Hop'). Materials range from wood and metal to shredded straw to plastic celluloid. One has a tiny sword (a military ball at the El Conquistador Hotel, in Tucson, AZ). One – handmade – is in the shape of a painter's palette. One, from 1915, was held at the Carnival Palace in New Orleans, for the 'King of the Carnival'. My cards range in price from $2 to $65. But I've seen magnificent ones that cost over $400. Oh, I could go on and on. I love them all.
This evening I received my most recent purchase, see above. Now. I don't know about you, but to me nothing says Spring Cotillion like a turreted tank, guns ablazing, towering over a parapet, about to crush a duo of hapless Germans. Well, consider it a sign of the times. It took place almost exactly 7 months before the end of World War One, and it was held at Westpoint Military School. The original owner of this card, a Miss Curtis, sat out only 9 of the 20 dances. I doubt I would do as well. Well done, Miss Curtis, well done.