Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Carnival Keepsakes

It's Mardis Gras time in Louisiana and time I share these ornate Carnival keepsakes which recently appeared at auction here. This 1897 Mardis Gras Ball invitation featuring Poseidon-on-the-halfshell, has a very lovely monogrammed date at the bottom. All of the exclusive ball invitations featured in the auction catalog were considered to be from the Golden Age of Mardis Gras (1870s to 1890s). These early masterpieces of color lithography were originally printed in Paris, and are prized for their many-colored designs with die-cut shapes and multiple folds. Enclosed inside each folded design, would be an admit card, a dance card with pencil, and at times a souvenir. Because they've always been printed in limited quantities, these early invitations have become increasingly scarce and expensive; especially in light of Hurricane Katrina. Even today, the Carnival Ball continues to be the most secretive and exclusive gala event in New Orleans. If you haven't received an invitation by now, you probably aren't invited. 

This 1892 invitation is, I'm guessing, in the shape of a pumpkin. It was designed by Bror Anders Wikstrom. 

This 1891 invitation is listed as "Demonology."

The 1884 invitation is listed as "The Aenid."

This visually striking version from 1902 is designed in the art nouveau style which was popular at that time. It includes the original envelope and two dance cards.

This 1886 invitation with dance card, featuring "Visions of Other Worlds", was perhaps influenced by Jules Verne's Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea

This 1890 invitation reflects some of the early Arts and Crafts styles of William Morris. It is listed as "Rulers of Ancient Times."

1883 "Atlantis, the Antediluvian World" invitation. 


  1. I didn't even know there was a Golden Age of Mardi Gras! These are gorgeous -- and the fact that the party was held in a secret location makes them twice as interesting.

  2. Wonderful. You do find such inspirational subjects.

  3. What fascinating and pretty finds. Love your blog!


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