Do you have purple, green and gold jewelry and clothes? Then you are halfway to properly celebrating Mardi Gras in New Orleans (February 21 this year) and acquiring some Mardi Gras memories and future collectibles.
Mardi Gras ball invitations, dance cards and other paper ephemera are great collectibles because they often were just tossed after the balls and parades were over. Even if they were saved, they are fragile and easily damaged.
Collectors love the elaborate vintage invitations to the exclusive balls held by “krewes” or social clubs in New Orleans. Dozens of krewes have formed since the first, the Mystic Krewe of Comus, was founded in 1856. It is believed that the first ball was held by this Krewe in 1857. Rex, founded in 1872, was another early krewe. It was the first to hold an organized Mardi Gras daytime parade.
Ball invitations were originally die-cut and printed in Paris. Even today they can be quite colorful and valuable works of art. Other Mardi Gras collectibles include masks, dolls, favors and posters. Here are 8 colorful examples.
Mardi Gras Rex Ball invitation, “Chronicles of Faery Land,” Feb. 26, 1895, 3-sided with shaped edge, sold in 3-sided gilt frame with glass (pictured unframed), 11 1/4 x 12 5/8 in., $500. Photo: Crescent City Auction Gallery
Mardi Gras Rex Ball invitation and admit card, “Imperial Reception, Carnival Palace,” Mar. 1, 1892, in plastic sheet, 12 in. dia., $1,188. Photo: Crescent City Auction Gallery
Mardi Gras Rex Ball invitation, “Music and Drama,” Feb. 22, 1887, in plastic sheet, 14 7/8 x 14 1/4 in., $688. Photo: Crescent City Auction Gallery
Mardi Gras poster, “Edict 1946 / Proclamation by the King of the Carnival,” announcing festivities and inviting loyal subjects to festivities for “Mardi Gras / The 5th Day of March, 1946” “. . . by the King Himself, Rex,” pictures the King, Royal Household and jesters, framed size 49 in. x 36 in., $625. Photo: Revere Auctions
Mardi Gras pin favor, enameled leafy wreath with blue bow, given by the Krewe Proteus, 1916, 1 5/8 x 1 3/8 in., $531. Photo: Crescent City Auction Gallery
Mardi Gras mask, “The Spotted Garden,” custom designed Carnival mask by Jim Lewis, brocade and metallic cloth, feathers, sequins and metal, inscribed “To Beverly” on inside elastic, signed by artist, dated “’05,” 29 x 17 in., $125. Photo: Rbfinearts
Jester mask, painted Lucite with applied metallic trims, bells, mounted on long handle, wing nut clasp closure, 26 x 14 in., $150. Photo: MiddleManBrokers Inc.
Mardi Gras Princess doll, bisque, rhinestone crown and scepter, cape with rhinestones, sequins and feathers, high silvered boots, copy of an original from Carrollton (1958) or Zeus (1962). Sold with an 18K gold presentation pendant from the King of Carrollton, 1958, and a silver pendant from the Krewe of Zeus engraved “Anita,” 1962, doll 20 1/2 in., $406 for the lot. Photo: Crescent City Auction Gallery