A Scarce Cambridge University Dance Card for The Cavalry & Artillery Ball, 1913


Origin: English
Period: Early Twentieth Century
Provenance: Unknown
Date: 1913
Height: 5 inches
Width: 2.5 inches
Condition: B

Printed by Spalding of Cambridge, the thick card dance card with annotations in pencil and original attached corded mini pencil, the front embossed in sky blue with ‘The Cavalry and Artillery Ball. Monday, June 9th 1913., below the Cambridge University O.T.C. arms and motto of ‘Discendo Dvces’ dated Monday, June 9th 1913.  The center spread with the programme of twenty events of valse and one-step dance, with the engagements to the other leaf, The music was provided by Moritz Wurm’s Orchestra and the reverse of the card shows the names of the twenty stewards.

The condition is superb considering this card would normally have been discarded straight after the ball, there are the handwritten notations made and some general wear but the overall order is good.

A dance card or programme du bal is used to record the names of the person with whom one 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. Only in Cambridge would 'May Week' actually be two weeks in late June which is a round-a-bout 'week' of boat racing, garden parties, May Balls and College Events. Originally these festivities were held in May, in the final week leading up to the year end exams, but in 1882 the May boat races were moved to June and the rest of the activities followed suit and thus May Week has been sheer merriment since the nineteenth century.

An unlikely find a century on, which would appeal to those with an affinity for the year, the university, or simply to balls, boats and bubbly.