This tiny case of dance instruction cards dates to c1820. The small leather case measures 2½” x 2″, and contains a set of gilt-edged cards describing various quadrille sets. It was published by the famous dancing master G.M.S. Chivers, who wrote several books on dancing, including The Dancers’ Guide, published in 1820.
The card pictured below, shown front and back, shows the First Set at Almack’s, with 6 dances described: Le Pantalon, L’Ete, La Poule, La Trenise, La Pastorale, and La Finale. Other cards in the case describe Hart’s Sets, Cuirassiers (“As Danced at the Nobilities Balls”), Original Hibernians, Royal Stars, Original Hussars, Parisians, Ladies’ Quadrilles, Lancers, and more.
I found this at an antiquarian book fair years ago and thought it was so intriguing, but I have never seen another one. I really know very little about it, or even if such miniature instruction sets were typical. If anyone has more information, please share!
UPDATE: Paul Cooper has written a detailed article about dancing master George Chivers, including his publication of quadrille instruction cards. Cooper estimates that the publication date for this set of cards is 1828.