What bygone relics survive the Gilded Age? Well, dance cards for one.
A dance card was used by a woman to record the names of the gentlemen with whom she intends to dance each successive dance at a formal ball. They appear to have originated in 18th century, but their use first became widespread in 19th century Vienna, especially at the massive balls during Fasching before Lent.
They were also used by the elite of society up to the early part of the 20th century. Below is one from a Dartmouth College Junior Prom in 1908:
This one is for the Annual Dance of the Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity. It lists the dances to be played starting with: 1. Waltz, 2. Two Step, 3. Waltz, 4. Two Step and 5. Waltz; 20 dances in total listed. Next to each dance is a place to write in your dance partner, listed under “Engagements”. The dance card is marked in pencil, and apparently our gal had quite a night, as her dance card was full! Next to some of the names of her partners she has written little notes such as “nice” and “very nice”.
Another later example of a dance card is the one from the Yale Freshman Prom in 1944:
We have a nice selection of original vintage dance cards at our website: