Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Steak and Ale: They're Not Just for Breakfast Anymore

Breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They seem so universal…so logical, don’t they?

But the fact is, the timing (and content!) of meals have varied throughout history, and our three-meal system of early morning breakfast, a light meal at mid-day, and a hearty one in the early evening is, relatively speaking, a newfangled invention. Today, as you might have guessed, I’m going to talk about breakfast.

The history of eating a meal upon waking up or shortly thereafter is a varied one. Often it was considered a meal to be eaten only by people who worked at farming or other hard labor, while gentlemen (who weren't going to be doing any labor much harder than coining witticisms) contented themselves with one substantial meal at about 11:00 am and another in the evening. But by the 18th and early 19th centuries breakfast was back in fashion, usually eaten sometime between 9am and 11am. What was served at it, though, varied. Earlier on, hearty foods were favored: pork chops with mustard are mentioned as a breakfast item in one Jane Austen novel, and a beefsteak washed down with ale was also popular. Yes, ale for breakfast…but don’t forget that the ale of the time was lower in alcohol content than today’s—and in an era when drinking plain water was considered possibly injurious to one’s health, beer, wine, and ale were what everyone drank until tea gradually replaced them.

Others preferred something similar to what we call a “continental” breakfast today: toast and/or other breads, cakes, or rolls with butter and perhaps marmalade; tea, chocolate, or coffee; and, season permitting, fruit. This lighter breakfast might be taken in the privacy of one’s bedchamber or in a small dining parlor called, amazingly, a breakfast room; in general, the mood was quiet and informal, and it was perfectly permissable to ignore other breakfasters and read the newspaper instead.

Later on, by mid-century, a more substantial meal was enjoyed by those who could afford it—and with the growth of the middle classes in England, more could. Isabella Beeton’s Book of Household Management, first published in 1861, suggests cold meat, ham, potted meat or fish (a sort of seasoned paste), cold fowl, game or meat pies, broiled fish or mutton chops, steaks, kidneys, sausages, bacon, ham, boiled or poached eggs, omelettes, toast, butter, and marmalade. Later in the century, they could get even more elaborate: here’s a suggested breakfast menu for 1881 from Things a Lady Would Like to Know by Henry Southgate: broiled haddock, potted ham, sheeps’ tongues, pig’s cheek, cold roast fowl, ham, cold grouse, rolled tongue, cold partridges, scalloped cod, kippered salmon, tea, coffee, or cocoa, bread and butter, milk and cream.

Gulp. Pass the cornflakes, will you?

Friday, March 27, 2009

Moving to the Big Table

Marissa and I are about to embark on a new series on something near and dear to everyone’s heart: meals! (Yes, meals. It will be fun--trust us!) But before we tell you all about the delectable foods and entertaining traditions surrounding breakfast, luncheon, tea, dinner, and midnight suppers for young people in nineteenth century England, we thought we ought to set the stage a bit.

You see, for much of her life, a young lady wouldn’t even have been at the table!

For many upper-crust families, and even for the burgeoning middle class, children spent their time in another part of the house entirely. A nurse, nanny, or governess would accommodate meals sent up from the kitchen and perhaps served by a nurse maid or under footman, and the children would eat in the schoolroom or nursery. An indulgent Mama and Papa might visit the nursery and take tea with their children, but the adults were sure to be at the big table for any major meal. So when you were invited to dine with them, it was a Big Deal, and served as yet another symbol that you were growing up.

Now, every family had its own rules on when it was time to graduate to the big table, and some families were far more forgiving than others. You might move up for family meals only when you were old enough to sit and behave properly at table. You might move up when you were in your early teens and needed practice in dining with Society. You might not move up until you were officially out. And in some families, you might not move up until you were deemed sufficiently interesting to provide good dinner conversation!

This painting of the Ruspoli family from Italy (1806) illustrates some of the reasons why Mama and Papa might think twice about inviting the urchins to dine. The young lad at Mama’s elbow cannot even stay in his seat and is ready to demand second helpings, the young lady across from her has crumbled her crumpets onto the damask tablecloth and is seriously considering feeding the remainders to Fidolphus the family pet, and things are generally in an uproar, something to be avoided at all costs by the elegant members of the aristocracy and those who sought to copy them. And when you remember that washing still consisted of the laundress brushing, rubbing, and beating the material into submission, you can see why a few spills could be a major tragedy.

Ah, but life at the big table was full of surprises and delights. Tune in next week when Marissa and I give you the dish on dining (okay, you probably saw that pun coming).

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Duty Calls! (part 1)

In her wonderful post on Friday Regina gave you a taste of just what it was young ladies did all day during the season. All the shopping certainly sounds fun, but another frequent activity does not: making calls. Yet in many ways it was one of the most important things people did: it was the glue that held society together.

Think about it this way: today’s women (and I include teens in that) have lots of opportunities for networking, being together, establishing friendships and acquaintances. They work, go to school, volunteer in their community—all great ways to meet and get to know other people on a casual, daily basis.

But the majority of teens and women of the 19th century didn’t work outside the home, didn’t go to high school or college, didn’t help out in schools or libraries or shelters or wherever. If you were anything more than living in poverty, you were constrained by your social class to more or less stay home…but you could have a social life. And that’s where the importance of paying calls comes in.

Paying a social call was the 19th century equivalent of chatting for a few minutes by the water cooler, or between classes, or in the aisle of the grocery store. It was how you stayed plugged in to your world. So when you came out in society, your mother took you around to pay calls on her friends and acquaintances to announce that fact. If you were leaving town for a while, or when you returned, you paid calls to let everyone know that you were going or had come back. When you had accepted someone’s hospitality the night before at a dinner or party, you paid a call on your hostess in the next day or two to thank them. And while you sat for the 15 to 30 minutes that was considered polite, you gossiped, shared confidences with close friends, got to know less familiar people…all the things we do today in a very different way.

As the century progressed, an elaborate etiquette around the paying and receiving of calls evolved, partly in response to the perceived encroachment of the growing wealthy middle classes into upper class society—a way to separate “them” from “us”. I’ll go into the etiquette and proper form of calls in future posts.

Friday, March 20, 2009

And You Thought Life Was Busy Now

Sometimes I feel like I’m being stretched in sixteen directions at once. Motherhood, writing, moonlighting in my old profession, volunteering at church, trying to help parents, being there for friends, wait, wasn’t I supposed to exercise somewhere in there? Many have said that the pace of life has increased dramatically in the last decade.

But they never saw the schedule for a young lady on her first season.

Marissa and I have written previously about the importance of going up to London after Easter each year to see and be seen. This was your chance to find the young man of your dreams, to chart your future. I’ve no doubt it was every bit as exciting as the stories told in books.

But think about it. Here you are, a young lady of sixteen or seventeen. Up until now, you’ve most likely been at home with perhaps a governess to teach you to read, write, calculate, embroider, and do other useful things. Perhaps you were one of the few who went to an exclusive girls school and learn deportment and dancing as well. Either way, your days have been fairly orderly, predictable, and staid.

Then you arrive in London. In short order, you have to shop for fabric, find a modiste, and get your gowns and riding habits made (and fitted and fitted again). You need hats, gloves, boots, shoes, muffs, tippets, scarves, pelisses, mantles, evening capes, and reticules to go with your new gowns, not to mention corsets, chemises, and morning robes. You have a maid to style your hair. Once you’re properly attired, you may get up early and don your fetching new riding habit to ride in Hyde Park then come home and change to eat breakfast while looking through all the invitations that arrived yesterday while you were out. Hm, if you’re to attend Lady Badgerly’s musicale, you’ll need one more set of gloves to match that new gown. So you change again and out you go shopping. You come back home victorious for nuncheon and then you may change again to go pay calls or accept calls from all your new friends. Some considered it bad form to stay more than 15 minutes at any one house, so you bobbed all over the West End visiting and being visited. Kiss, kiss. How lovely to see you. Do call again soon.

Back home in time to change for dinner, and then perhaps to change again before heading out to a ball or the opera. You also have to find time to practice your singing or playing (you must show off at musicales yourself, you know), read whatever's in vogue so you can speak intelligently, and study the ladies' magazines so you can stay up to the minute in fashion. Then there were horse races, river regattas, Venetian breakfasts (which are actually in the afternoon), cricket matches, court galas, scientific lectures, art exhibits, concerts, and the theatre, not to mention all the sights of London, like Vauxhall Gardens, the Egyptian Hall, the British Museum, the Elgin Marbles, and a must-see visit to the Panoramic View of St. Petersburg, a very large painting at Mr. Wigley’s Great Room.

Remember that the Season ran from after Easter to the middle of August, at best five months and often less. During that time a young lady might be expected to attend over 50 balls, 75 parties, 30 dinners, and two dozen breakfasts, with all the dressing, undressing, redressing, primping, curling, and shopping required to support them. And in the middle of all that she was expected to find, attract, get to know, and become engaged to her future husband.

And I thought I was stretched! Phew!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Utter Frivolity, Part 1

One of the indirect pleasures of writing about the nineteenth century is collecting 19th century stuff in the name of research, which allows one to feel noble and virtuous (“I’m working hard to bring a truly authentic feel to my stories by buying these!”) I would imagine writers of chick-lit do the same thing with shoes...but I do hope crime writers don’t do the same with murder weapons.

Fortunately, 19th century fashion plates—pictures of current fashions that appeared in 19th century magazines before the advent of Vogue and four-color photo advertisements—are generally much cheaper than Manolos or Jimmy Choos and less alarming than pistols and daggers, so we writers of historical fiction can indulge in owning more than one. I love my collection, and enjoy looking at them as much for the sheer fun of it as for research purposes. Many of them are works of art—delicately drawn and colored, charming, evocative of the world of the past in so many ways.

But some of them, while still attractive and informative and all that, make me just itch to grab a pencil and scribble in a thought bubble or silly caption—the original engraver included some quirk of expression or setting or outlandish detail that just screams for it. So now and then I’ll be posting a few with my thoughts for captions, just for fun. Here are a few to start us off; if you have your own funny caption for any of them, tell us what it is in the comment section. Later this spring I’ll post a few without captions to see what you can do, and maybe hand out a prize or two…so have fun, and enjoy the prints!

#1, from a French Modes de Paris print from around 1827:

"Isn't it wonderful? When I'm not using it to vacuum the rugs, it makes a fabulous fashion statement!

#2, from the English Ackermann's Repository of Arts, Literature, Commerce, Manufactures, Fashions and Politics, March 1810:

"A peculiar fishy odor? I have no idea what you're talking about!"

#3, also from Ackermann's Repository, July 1822:

"Oh, darn! It's decaf?"

And lastly, #4, from another English magazine called La Belle Assemblee, January 1826:

"Hey, lady--give those back! They're mine!"


Isn't it wonderful how pets and their owners begin to resemble each other after a while?

Which do you prefer?

Friday, March 13, 2009

Pancake Tuesday

I realize today is neither a Tuesday nor the day before the start of Lent, but with our series on English Country Dance and our guest bloggers the time got away from me. A couple of weeks ago, those who celebrate Lent began the season once again. In nineteenth century England, young ladies and gentlemen also celebrated Lent. For 40 days leading up to Easter they had to refrain from indulgence foods like cakes and pastries on Monday through Saturday. Theatres withheld many programs. It was also considered bad luck to marry during Lent.

Lent began with a church service on Ash Wednesday. However, the day before Ash Wednesday was a time for a good deal of fun. Shrove Tuesday was originally the day you confessed your sins to a priest and got “shriven.” A more modern name is Pancake Tuesday. Because Lent was a time of fasting and abstinence, the lower classes generally attempted to empty the house of any rich foods before Lent. These foods included milk, butter, eggs, and fat. So, on Pancake Tuesday, you mixed all your milk, butter, and eggs with wheat flour and spices into pancakes, fried them up, and pigged out!

But Pancake Tuesday wasn’t just about eating pancakes. This was the nineteenth century’s version of Mardi Gras. Some communities held pancake parties, with people dressed up as the Protector of the Pancakes, First Founder of the Fritters, Baron of Bacon-flitch, and the Earl of Egg-baskets. At Westminster School in London, it was the tradition to have the cook come out and “throw” a pancake over the bar that separates the dining room between the younger and older students. The student who catches the pancake before it hits the flow (or grabs the biggest portion after it hits the floor) wins a prize.

Other communities held pancake races. At the sound of a pancake bell, often the bell from the local church, women ran a course carrying a frying pan with a pancake in it. They had to successfully flip the pancake at least three times before they reached the goal. My favorite course is still run in Olney in Buckinghamshire. In the nineteenth century, any woman over 16 could run the 415-yard course. The winner received a prayer book from the vicar and a kiss from the Pancake Bell Ringer, the fellow who rang the bell calling the devoted to church.

I picture him looking a lot like Hugh Jackman. Whip out those frying pans, ladies! On your mark, get set . . .

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Do You Wanna Dance? Gail Eastwood on English Country Dancing Today

"Young females in particular, if deprived of Dancing, are totally at a loss to find any healthful amusement. Boys certainly have their games of cricket, trap-ball, etc., but what can we find so proper for girls? Novel reading, I am sorry to say, is too often an apology for exercise."
--Thomas Wilson, preface to An Analysis of Country-dancing (1808)

We’ve come far in 200 years, haven’t we? Today we have all sorts of amusements and exercise available for both sexes, but how many of you still chuckled in recognition when you got to Wilson’s last sentence in the quote above? I know I did! While I'm not an exercise fan, when it comes to English Country dancing, I am among the first to get out on the dance floor. Why? What about “ECD” has kept interest in it alive for more than three and a half centuries?

Oh, come on, this one’s easy –it's FUN!!

I first discovered the pleasure of ECD as part of learning Renaissance dances when I joined the Society for Creative Anachronism many years ago. By the way, the SCA is also how I first got to know Marissa, before either of us were writing books or published!! That group recreates the Middle Ages and Renaissance, and although John Playford’s 1st ECD book (1651) is a bit beyond the time period, people were doing dances like those he collected and recorded well before his book came out. That book, The English Dancing Master, was still being published, with different dances in it, in the 18th century. I recognized the longways dances as similar to what was going on in Jane Austen’s books, and began to do research on Regency period dancing –especially when I began writing books of my own set in that lovely time period.

Well, of course, once you start to get into something…. I discovered the Friends of the English Regency (FOER), and would have loved to get involved, but at the time they were almost entirely on the West Coast, and I’m in New England. But I learned enough on my own to begin to teach some 19th century dances (and earlier ones that were similar) at Regency Writers’ conferences. When we had a conference in California, I invited one of the FOER’s dance masters to co-present a bigger historical dance workshop with me for the Romance Writers of America National Conference, which was a huge hit.

I began dancing with regular English Country Dance groups in my home area when dancing in the SCA wasn’t frequent enough for me anymore. I also discovered the Elegant Arts Society (EAS), who are based primarily in the Northeast. They do events, including an annual Regency Ball in New Haven, CT, and also teach all sorts of vintage dance classes in New York City –from Regency and Victorian right up to early 20th century. I learned quadrilles and Scottish Reels and Waltz figures –and ECD of course. (That's Gail in purple, btw! Photo by Selena Millard/courtesy Independent Newspapers)

I’m telling you all this just so you can see that if you’d like to see it or try it out yourself, there are lots of ways to find other people who are doing 19th century dancing. The historical recreation groups that I just mentioned are places you could start, but there are many more, such as the Victorian Society of America, and of course, you’ve already read the wonderful posts by Stephanie Johanesen of the Oregon Regency Society. Someone has already mentioned the CDSS (Country Dance and Song Society), which is a great source for info or music, or especially if you’d rather begin with a book….and they also sponsor Dance summer camps! If you’re not in the USA, some of these groups are either international, like the SCA, or have equivalent branches in other countries.

English Country Dance is a great hobby. The music is elegant, the dancing itself is easy, great fun and very social, and you can find people doing it almost everywhere. If you simply Google “English Country Dancing” you’ll find all sorts of good sites –about 40,000 hits. Just in case that’s a bit overwhelming, try “+ your state” to narrow your search, or here are some links to get you started:

Country Dance and Song Society: http://www.cdss.org/
Friends of the English Regency: http://www.regencyfriends.org/
Victorian Society in America: http://www.victoriansociety.org/
Commonwealth Vintage Dancers: http://vintagedancers.org/
Society For Creative Anachronism: http://www.sca.org/

www.earthlydelights.com.au/english.htm (this site includes some material on dance in the Jane Austen movies)

Once you start looking, you’ll find lots more, not to mention more you-tube videos, costume pages, etc. etc. Don’t spend so much time online that you forget to get out there and try dancing!

Thank you for visiting, Gail! That wraps up our series on nineteenth century dance...we hope you enjoyed it!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Those Dreamy Dance Masters, or How Else Would You Learn to Put Your Right Foot Out?

Today we're welcoming guest blogger and dear friend Gail Eastwood, a fellow Regency addict, period dance instructor, writing teacher and author of seven Regency romance-adventure novels published by Signet Books between 1994 and 2002, to add to our series on 19th century dance. Welcome, Gail!

You can just imagine how the announcement that Papa had hired a dance master would set the young girls in a 19th century household all a twitter. Would he be tall and handsome? Young? Maybe he would be French, or even Scottish, with a dreamy accent. The night before he was to arrive, no doubt young hearts fluttered in anticipation, and heads filled with romantic fantasies. Who could help it?

The reality was not likely to quite measure up. While a dance master needed to be polished, sophisticated, and reasonably attractive in order to be hired (after all, you wanted to be able to impress your neighbors with your choice), if he was too young or handsome he was likely to be passed over for another candidate who presented less of a risk to the impressionable young ladies of the household. Not that anyone in the upper crust of society wealthy enough to hire a private instructor expected a real romance to blossom with one of these accomplished gentlemen. After all, they were, essentially, in trade –they had to work to earn a living. Quelle horreur!! But young ladies sometimes overlooked these practicalities of life when swept off their feet, definitely NOT part of the desired dance curriculum. I can almost hear the crest-fallen whispers from behind the window curtains the next day as the much-anticipated fellow arrived: “There he is! But, oh, look –he’s so old!”

The incentive to make Papa take this step would often be that the oldest girl in the family was approaching the age for coming out into society. A knowledge of dance was an essential social grace: the dance floor was a place where futures were often decided--where young women attracted the eye of potential marriage partners and young men caught the notice of well-connected elders who could mentor their social and political careers.

The ability to dance well required grace, balance, memory, rhythm, and that quality treasured above all else, elegance. During the 19th century, “elegance” was more than a quality to which everyone aspired; it was almost a philosophy that infused all ideas about art, beauty, and behavior. The "unstudied" elegance admired and desired in adults was for most people the result of long years of practice and training from childhood. In addition to the rudiments of understanding music, rhythms, styles of various steps, and figures of particular dances, students were taught how to stand and move, how to incline their heads to just the right degree, and how to move their arms in graceful curves that would be pleasing to the eye, avoiding such visually offensive vulgarities as (gasp!) bent elbows!

Children of the upper classes would spend hours training with a Dance Master and more hours practicing to perfect the movements and techniques taught to them. As they grew older, they would have opportunity to practice their dance skills "in company" at private functions in the home, at local fairs or festivals, and perhaps also at school. For young ladies, "coming out" in their mid-to-late teen years meant they were ready for formal socializing, and their skills might be given a final polish at local assemblies or slightly less fashionable venues like Cheltenham before being put to the test in Bath or London. At the height of the Season in London, a young lady or gentleman might attend several balls in the same week.

Those not quite so elevated in society might go to classes at the studio of a respectable dance master, and thereafter be more prepared for dances at public assemblies and private gatherings.

So, what exactly did they learn? Regina already wrote in an earlier post (with an illustration, too) about the all–important (and still in use) “five positions” that were basic to learning to dance. A thorough grounding in these foot positions was essential to understanding and performing the steps for any kind of dance, for the positions had become a kind of universal language in describing the movements. 19th century dance masters like Francis Peacock, describing Scottish steps in Aberdeen, and Thomas Wilson, writing in London, and French dance masters in Paris, all relied on the common dance language of the "Positions" in teaching and describing dance steps, and so did everyone else. Mastery of these positions and the many steps based on them was essential to developing an acceptable repertoire in a period where the actual forms of the dances themselves were often fluid and might be left in part up to the whim of the dancers.

What were the requisite dances in a refined person's repertoire? Advertising in one of his many dance manuals, Thomas Wilson listed nearly twenty types of dances, but his long and exotic list included foreign dances and ones no longer in fashion, and was no doubt designed to bring in clients. In the early part of the century, the most popular dances proper young men and women needed to know were English Country dances, Scotch reels, Quadrilles and Waltzes.

"Knowing" these dances meant much more than a simple familiarity with the figures of a single dance, as in modern ballroom dancing, however. The Scotch reels, for example (considered simple but lively), required the mastery of some ten different steps involving leaps, hops, crossings and slides of varying complexity, and the dancer was expected to combine them appropriately to fit the music. Peacock, after describing the steps in some detail in his book, writes: "…you have it in your power to change, divide, add to, or invert, the different steps described, in whatever way you think best adapted to the tune, or most pleasing to yourself." The Quadrille, too, required the mastery of a number of steps with which to perform the many figures involved in the dance, such as the SISSONNE BALOTÉ, RIGADOON, CHASSÉ, JETTÉ, GLISSADE, and PAS DE BASQUÉ. The dance itself, most often done in a square of four couples like the old cotillion, had five different sections, each with its own name, music, and series of figures.

The "scandalous" closed-couple waltz began its infancy early in the century, but exactly when is subject to much disagreement and conjecture. Was it introduced at Almacks by Countess Lieven in 1814, as Gronow later recalled? Or was it already being danced in other ballrooms before it breached the formidable walls of propriety in that august assembly? Part of the confusion is fueled by the prior existence of numerous "waltzes" that were standard English Country Dances, including one quite specifically named "The German Waltz"! There were also several types of waltzes --the French, the German, and two known as "leaping" waltzes, the Sauteuse and the Jette. That the dance was a bit different from what we know as the waltz today is clearly seen in an illustration from Wilson's 1816 manual, The Correct Method of German and French Waltzing, which shows the dancers on their toes in a variety of positions. What made it so scandalous was, first, that the couple danced independently of others by themselves for the entire dance, and second, that the whirling parts of the dance could make a young lady quite dizzy, rendering her quite out of control and at the mercy of her partner!! The venerable English Country Dance, however, still dominated the ballrooms for most of the early century. In 1808 Wilson wrote: "It is true, they all have Dances of their own; the French have minuets and cotillions, the Italians and Germans have waltzes, the Spaniards fandangos, and the Turks have dancing girls to divert them; but none of these are half so sociable or delightful as English Country Dancing."

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

You Want to Dance with Me? I Want it in Writing!

Okay...first, old business. The winner of the drawing for a signed copy of Sarah MacLean's The Season is:

Starry*Night, you'll be hearing from Sarah shortly to arrange mailing your prize. Thank you to everyone who stopped by and commented! Now, for today's topic...

The nineteenth century was a century of progress. I mean, think about it: at the beginning of the century, if you wanted to go somewhere you rode a horse or a horse-drawn vehicle; by the end there were railroads and automobiles. At the beginning of the century, your house was lit by candles; by the end, gas and electric lighting were available almost everywhere. And at the beginning of the century, you pretty much had to dance with whoever asked you at a ball; by the end, there were dance cards. See what I mean? Progress!

Okay, I’ll settle down now.

So what were dance cards?

Like technology, they evolved over the century. From what I’ve been able to find, they were probably first in use in Austria and may have been spread as everyone returned home to their various corners of Europe from the Congress of Vienna, that huge year-long party—ahem, series of negotiations—that ended the Napoleonic Wars (for you hard-core history geeks out there, I highly recommend David King’s Vienna 1814 for a highly readable account of the Congress). At this time, “group” dances like country dancing and the highly formal minuets where precedence and etiquette decreed whom you could dance with fell out of favor, to gradually be replaced by “pairs” dances like the waltz and later on the polka and others. And because there were now more dances per evening (as opposed to the fewer but longer country dances of the past) it became harder to remember which young men you’d promised to dance with. So young women used the adorable little notebooks that opened like fans that they already carried about in their reticules to note down shopping lists and so on, and used them to record dance partners for the evening. I've posted a photo above of a few from my collection--you can see the varying materials (bone, ivory, mother of pearl, tortoise shell, silver) and styles, as well as ways of carrying them (see the little ring on the fan-shaped one and the clip on the Indian chief one so that it could be fastened on a belt?) A few are even inscribed "Bal", or ball in French (see close-up at left). I've seen varying opinions as to when dance cards were in general use...most likely, their use grew through the 1830s until they were a commonplace by the time Victoria was queen.

Towards the middle of the century, dance cards changed: they were pre-printed booklets of paper or cardboard listing each specific dance that the musicians would play, in order. Tiny pencils were attached by a ribbon or cord to the program, and the whole could dangle from a wrist or belt, and later be preserved as a memento of the evening. They became progressively more decorative and elaborate as the century moved on, peaking with the astonishing “ballspenden” popular in Austria before World War I (check this site out for a look at how crazy they could get!)