Beaded Dance Card Folder

Dance card holder, France, 1920's Dance card holder, France, 1920's Courtesy Textile Research centre, Leiden, TRC 2015.0194.

Dance cards (carnets de bal) were popular, female accessories in nineteenth and early twentieth century Western society. They were used to list the number of dances and the names of the associated dance partners at a ball or party. A full card indicated a popular girl, an empty card represented a social disaster.

Dance card folders often held a replaceable dance card, which was kept in place with a silk cord around the centre of the folder and card. A small pencil was normally hung from the cord so that the names of dance partners could be written down.

The outsides of the folders were decorated in many different ways, from discreet silk covers to elaborate and eye catching beaded and embroidered examples. This particular dance card folder comes from France and is decorated on one side with a stevengraph (picture woven in silk) produced by the St. Etienne company of Neyret Frères.

The mono-tone silk picture was made between 1915 and 1920 and was called La leçon d’escrime (‘The Fencing Lesson’) after a painting by the Spanish artist, Mariano Alonso Pérez (1853–1930). The picture is surrounded by glass and faceted steel beads in shades of black and grey. The same beads were used on the other side of the card folder and were arranged in a geometric Art Déco design. There is no indication of a lining on the inside of the folder, which suggests that this object, for some reason, has not been finished.

Digital sources:

TRC online catalogue (retrieved 15 April 2017).


Last modified on Saturday, 15 April 2017 18:35