Dance cards first appeared in the 18th century and were used by young women to note down the men with whom they wished to dance at a ball. Violins formed part of the dance bands that played at balls, so the choice of a violin shape for these dance cards is particularly apt. The decoration, which depicts cherubs playing musical instruments in a rural setting, also reflects this usage.
The cover is made from Dresden china and protects several thin sheets of ivory on which the names of dance partners were written using a gold propelling pencil that was ingeniously concealed within the body of the violin. Hidden inside the neck is a bottle of smelling salts, with a stopper carved in the shape of a woman's head.