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“Kiss me darling”

dance card case

Dance card case in the collection of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. From the Evelyn Way Kendall Early Aviation and Balloon Collection, donated by the Norfolk Charitable Trust

In the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries, balls and dances were places to socialize and dance. Each lady had a dance card and gentlemen would “sign up” for a specific dance with her by writing his name on her dance card. This way, a lady would have a list of gentlemen to dance with in a specific order over the course of the evening. Some dance cards were very elaborate and others quite simple.

Explore the detailed conservation of the dance card case shown above—made from two panels of thinly-sawn ivory held together with a copper alloy pin—with Lauren Gottschlich, the National Air and Space Museum’s Engen Conservation Fellow, for the Clouds in a Bag exhibit at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va. One card in this case bears the inscription “Kiss me darling.” Gottschlich reveals the secrets of this intriguing balloon-decorated artifact in the National Air and Space Museum’s blog.


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