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Author Topic:   An ironic little Whatzit

Posts: 326
Registered: Oct 2004

iconnumber posted 04-01-2005 03:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for IJP     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

This was a rather ironic encounter. A few of you out there know why.

Measuring about 2 5/16 by 1 1/4 inches, it is marked only "sterling pat'd" and has a few numbers marked here and there. The applied medallions have a border of stylized leaves or scrolls. One of these contains a brief quote, "'Your heart's desires be with you.' As You Like It, 1-2' ". The other is a somewhat crude portrait medallion of the Bard himself, beneath it is written "SHAKSPEARE" (the typo is intentional, just the way it reads beneath the portrait). Between these two sterling covers are six cards, of a bone or ivory-like material, each marked at the bottom with a day of the week. Sunday is omitted. These cards have a particular grain of slightly lighter and darker striations.

I wonder, was there originally a Sunday card that's become lost? If not, what clue if any does the omission of Sunday offer about the precise use for this little object?

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Registered: Mar 2003

iconnumber posted 04-01-2005 03:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kimo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Is there any clue as to whether there may have been a Sunday card - perhaps by looking very closely at the amount of space between the covers?

In any event it appears to be some kind of date/appointment book for a fashionable person to keep track of whom they needed to see and what they needed to do for the week. Likely they would have written in it with a pencil which could be easily cleaned off when they needed to plan the coming week. I should imagine that a Sunday card would have been helpful - not only for noting the time of the church service, but more importantly for the Sunday afternoon in the park picnics and such.

I think there is some partial expansion on the meaning of the incribed verse and the use of the object if you read the lines said immediately before it:

Orlando: I beseech you, punish me not with your hard thoughts, wherein I confess me much guilty, to deny so fair and excellent ladies anything. But let your fair eyes and gentle wishes go with me to my trial: wherein if I be foiled, there is but one shamed that was never gracious; if killed, but one dead that is willing to be so. I shall do my friends no wrong, for I have none to lament me; the world no injury, for in it I have nothing; only in the world I fill up a place, which may be better supplied when I have made it empty.

Rosalind: The little strength that I have, I would it were with you.

Celia: And mine, to eke out hers.

Rosalind: Fare you well. Pray heaven I be deceived in you!

Celia: Your heart’s desires be with you!

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Registered: Oct 2004

iconnumber posted 04-01-2005 06:20 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for IJP     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Wow, thanks for the english lit lesson, Kimo. I had indeed taken a look at the play to find the quote, but I'm not so certain that the maker intended to hint at anything terribly more profound than just the nice little phrase of welfare or fare-well. However, if a deeper double-meaning can be gleaned, that makes things more interesting, doesn't it? Anyhow, even if the maker had intended that, you'd think he'd have put half as much effort into making the Bard look not-so-cartoon-like. As for the absent Sunday card, there's not enough room between the sterling plates for another piece, though it's not inconceivable that the whole was tightened back up if "Sunday" broke or fell out.

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Posts: 63
Registered: Jan 2001

iconnumber posted 04-02-2005 03:16 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for rat     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I think it is a dance card, meant to be hung from a chatelaine.

Maybe it is excluded for religious reasons.

If you do a search on ivory dance card on Google, you'll turn up some more information.

- rat

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Posts: 326
Registered: Oct 2004

iconnumber posted 04-02-2005 01:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for IJP     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks, rat, I believe you are correct. There are several items of similar design and function out there. Dance card, Ballspenden (German), carnet de bal, or aide-memoire (French), they are all the same thing. Although the dance card was used by ladies initially to remember dance order at one event, seeing that a few have leaves for each day of the week suggests to me that the object may have evolved into a kind of date book, to help girls remember what social engagements or plans lay ahead. Those which are thus imprinted seem to also leave out Sunday. I'm sure that the omission is with respect to religious reasons, whether because of old Christian injunctions against such social affairs, or simply, and more practically, because Sundays were traditionally spent at church service or at rest (Both reasons are very nearly in the same spirit).

Anyway, Kimo, you see that this item, if not exactly intended for use by a lady to keep track of her suitors, certainly derives its inspiration from similar objects that were so intended. With that in mind, some lines before the excerpt you posted above from the play, Rosalind and Celia are speaking to each other alone:

[...] therefore, my
sweet Rose, my dear Rose, be merry.

From henceforth I will, coz, and devise sports. Let
me see; what think you of falling in love?

Marry, I prithee, do, to make sport withal: but
love no man in good earnest; nor no further in sport
neither than with safety of a pure blush thou mayst
in honour come off again.

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iconnumber posted 04-07-2005 09:30 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kimo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hi Rat. My first thought was also dance card, but the days of the week printed on the leaves guided my conclusion to it being a kind of weekly appointments/date book.

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