My Card Is Full: The Evolution of the Farewell Ball Dance Cards

By Hayes Smith
February 2012

Return to Case Study

My Card Is Full: The Evolution of the Farewell Ball Dance Cards

1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 The earliest dance card in the collection is from The Farewell Ball, June 2nd 1893 , donated by Mrs. Elizabeth Galt Welles (13 x 8.5 cm). The card is bound by a ribbon bow on the top vertical edge, with heavy cardstock covers in an ivory color. The cover simply states the dance and date in black ink with gold embellishments. The half-inch wide ribbon is long enough for the card to be carried on a lady’s wrist and holds a small pencil 7 cm in length. Inside the cover were 2 pages containing the list of dances with the song titles and composers. The card had not been filled out by its owner. The simple design creates an elegant card, following the guidelines for cards set by The Ballroom Guide published in the 1860s: “modern taste is inclined to favour plain and chaste designs rather than florid” (Aldrich 117). The contents of the card show that the emphasis of the card was on the order of dances, without much information about the ball.

2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 Unfortunately, the Academy does not have any cards from the balls in between 1893 and 1906, but the card from the 1906 Farewell Ball provides a beautiful example of a dance card. Donated by Mrs. Bradford Bartlett, the card is 10 x 7.5 cm with a tan leather cover. The cover has two inside pockets and a strap to attach the card to a woman’s wrist. Inside, the card contains three bifolia with much more decoration than the 1893 card. The card begins with a title page, which announces the name, date, and location of the ball. Following the title page are three pages of dances with spaces for 25 dances. For the first two pages of dances, each recto side holds a space for eight dances and on the verso is an illumination of a woman in an evening gown and a woman in a Navy coat and cover, respectively. The third page lists nine dances on the recto side and lists the committee of midshipmen who planned the ball on the verso. After these there are two blank pages with the word “Autographs” printed at the top of each page. This card—also not filled out—demonstrates the shift in focusing on only the dances to a larger focus on the card as a decorative souvenir.

3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 The Farewell Ball card from June 5th, 1908 donated by Mary McCarthy is the first in the collection filled out by its original owner. The last names of eight different men are written in pen with a beautiful cursive hand next to the dances. Ms. McCarthy danced 17 of the 25 dances listed and most of them were two steps and waltz, which were especially popular at the time. This card is much like the 1906 card, with a section listing the committee members and blank pages for autographs. Measuring 10 x 7.5 cm, the dark brown suede cover has a Naval Academy insignia blindly stamped in the center, with a dark brown cord and pockets inside the cover. The inside was printed with brown ink and tissue paper protected the pictures from transfer.

4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 0 In 1909, the Farewell Ball dance card, donated by Mrs. Bradford Bartlett, remained much the same. The 10.5 x 8 cm card had a navy blue vinyl cover with pockets inside to hold pictures and gold tooling for decoration. The inside contained the order of dances—not filled out—a supper list, and a committee list. The illustrations were in black and white with a small bit of red as an accent.

5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0 Also donated by Mrs. Bradford Bartlett, the Farewell Ball, June 3rd 1910 dance card had a dark grey leather cover with a silver cord (10 x 7 cm). A blind tooled ship decorated the front, and white paint accented the moon and water. Inside, black and white illustrations were accented with the use of yellow, red, blue and green and were protected by tissue paper. The order of dances was filled out in sloppy cursive hand in pencil. The autograph section, however, was left blank.

6 Leave a comment on paragraph 6 0 The example from the Farewell Ball, June 2nd 1911 provided the most intricate cover. Measuring 11 x 6.5 cm while closed, the tan suede cover folds three times, containing extra pockets. Inside the front cover is one pocket and the small booklet of paper, the back cover extends to twice the front cover’s length, folding in on itself. The right side of the cover has a simple pocket, while the middle of the cover has a more complex pocket. The pocket is vertically arranged, with a flap that closes by inserting the narrow point of the flap into a loop. Naval Academy insignia is stamped onto the inner pockets of the cover. The dance card was attached to the lady’s wrist by a dark brown leather strap, which still holds an 8 cm pencil. Inside contains a title page, pictures with color accents, the committee list, a section for autographs and the order of dances, which is not filled out.

7 Leave a comment on paragraph 7 0 The Farewell Ball, June 6th 1919 dance card has a navy blue vinyl cover with blind stamped Naval Academy insignia and date and a blue and yellow cord (10 x 8 cm). The inside contains a title page and the dances listed verso and spaces to fill out engagements listed recto. The card is not filled out and is decorated with black and white illustrations.

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6

0 Comments on the whole post

Comment on this Post