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Souvenir Programme for The Chelsea Arts Club Ball and Bystander Coming of Age Celebrations (1924)

The Chelsea Arts Club held a fancy dress ball at the Albert Hall from 1910 to 1958, usually either on Mardi Gras or New Year's Eve. The Bystander, a magazine of largely social news founded in December 1903, co-hosted the ball on New Year's eve in 1924 to celebrate their 21st year of publication. Blampied was a major artist and political cartoonist for the magazine at that time and had visited Paris many times where he had drawn dancers at exotic clubs, so his design was used for the cover of the programme.

The number written at the top was for a raffle held during the evening. There was a sealed box within a large birthday cake which contained all 4,000 numbers. The holder of the first drawn number was invited to call at the salons of Monsieur Peron, one of which was on Regent Street, and choose an evening gown and wrap to the value of 100 guineas, which is equvalent to £6,000 in 2019. One hundred other numbers were published in the next issue of The Bystander which allowed the winner to select a pair of dainty evening shoes to the value of 2 guineas from Barbers of Oxford Street.

According to an article in The Bystander on 24th December, all the men were to be given a box of 75 Abdullah cigarettes and all the women a half-guinea box of Cadbury's superfine chocolates. Students of the Royal College of Art in South Kensington were to present a 'stunt' called The Phoenix in the cubist style.

The hole punched in the lower left corner was for a pencil attached to a piece of string. This was used to mark the list of 32 dances on page 7, a mixture of foxtrots, waltzes and one steps. Two of the waltzes were composed specifically for the occasion by Nat Ayer with words by Ralph Stanley (possibly the pseudonym of Stanley Charles Rogers). The music and words were printed on pages 9 to 12 of the programme. Page 17 was blank for autographs.

Ivor Novello and Noel Coward attended the ball, according to a photograph I have seen. The Ball was the highlight of the social calendar in the 1920s. I suspect that Blampied did not go. He was a member of the Chelsea Arts Club when he lived in Roland Gardens, 10 minutes walk way from the club premises, between 1928 and 1938.

Publisher: The Bystander

Year: 31st December 1923 to 1st January 1924

Format: Printed pages in card covers bound by gold cord

Pages: 2 pp insert, 20 pp text

Covers: Blue textured card embossed in gold with illustration pasted into an embossed gold border

Size: 247 x 175 mm

Cover design: signed Blampied, top right of panel

Internal illustrations: Blam(pied) cartoons on page 1; others by Helen McKie, W. Heath Robinson, H.M. Bateman and Fred Pegram.

Price: The cost of a ticket to the ball, not known

Copies: 4,000, individually numbered

Printed by: Not stated

Notes: I have three copies of this programme (numbers 139, 3061 and 3387), one of which has signatures of some of the revellers on the Autographs page (Bones, Rowland Hall, Jessica Clarke, Barbara H. Gibbs, G.S. Abercrombie and two others, illegible) and there is food stuck to the back cover. Another copy has remnants of the string which was attached to the pencil. None of the dances on page 7 are marked in any copy, a formality that was semingly not observed in the 1920s.

Image of dust jacket

Cover of programme (click to enlarge)