A City of Vienna Ball Fiftieth Jubilee Commemorative Medal
A City of Vienna Ball, Emperor Franz Joseph I Fiftieth Jubilee Commemorative Medal 1848-1898, Cased - Bronze, obverse illustrating the bust of a young Franz Joseph I on the left, with the bust of an older Franz Joseph I on the right, each in a rectangular outline and framed by branches of laurel leaves, maker marked "JOS. TAUTENHAYN JUN.FEC." below the right bust, reverse is blank, 39.8 mm x 100.2 mm, spotting on the obverse near the top edge, near extremely fine. In its brass case of issue, pressed white fabric top with ornate floral design and inscribed "BALL DER STADT WIEN" (City of Vienna Ball) and "5.FEBER 1898" (February 5, 1898) in embossed gold-coloured ink, voided leaf design in the brass on all four sides on the exterior, inside lid and recessed medal bed lined in green linen, ornate floral design on the inside lid and maker marked "AUGUST KLEIN WIEN NUR GRABEN 20." on the medal bed, both in embossed gold-coloured ink, dual-hinged, age discolouration and spotting evident on the exterior, slight fabric wear on the medal bed, case also near extremely fine. Footnote: The City of Vienna Ball was the monarchy's third most important Ball in Vienna, after the Court Ball and the Ball in Court. The City of Vienna Ball was first held on February 1, 1890 at Vienna City Hall and was intended as a counterpart to the Court Ball. In addition to the Court Balls, the City of Vienna Ball was very highly regarded. Also popular were the ladies donations, this often made reference to historical events such as the opening of the 2nd Vienna Mountain Spring Pipeline, the Battle of Aspern, the Schiller Festival or Imperial anniversaries. This cased bronze medal would have been handed out to guests attending the City of Vienna Ball. In regards to the other two balls, the Court Ball and the Ball in Court: towards the end of January of every year, the Viennese Court girded itself for the ball season. Elaborate preparations were necessary for the Court to present itself in its full splendour. While the Court Ball was the state ball of the Habsburg Monarchy, the Ball at Court was the more socially exclusive event. Around two thousand guests were invited to the Court Ball. In addition to Court society as such (that is, the nobility who were "presentable at court" and those who held ceremonial Court positions), high-ranking representatives from politics and the Church together with the serving officers of the Vienna garrison could attend. This represented a certain opening up of the otherwise extremely exclusive Court society. Only the highest-ranking guests received a personal invitation from the Emperor, Franz Joseph I. The rest of the court was "informed" that their appearance was requested at the ball via an official bulletin. The date was traditionally fixed by the Empress. However, Empress Elisabeth was known to put off this social duty, which she disliked intensely, for as long as she could. The ball officially started at eight o’clock in the evening. At half-past eight the Obersthofmeister (the head of the Court household) reported to the Emperor that the guests had arrived. The cortège or train then formed itself, with the senior court officials taking up their positions according to rank around the Imperial family. After the welcoming of the diplomatic corps, which could take up to an hour, the Imperial family made its entrance at around half-past nine. It was not until this point that the court ball orchestra struck up. Significantly, dancing was of only secondary importance at this ball, not least because there was hardly enough room for it, due to the large number of guests. It was the social effect that was the focus of the event. The climax of the evening was the Cercle, when one exchanged a few words with Their Imperial Majesties. According to eye-witness accounts, conversation with Empress Elisabeth, who harboured deep reservations towards Court society, was rather slow and awkward. But until aristocratic young ladies, known as comtessen, had been presented to the Empress they could not "come out" in society. It was a special honour for high-ranking ladies to be invited to take tea with the Empress, while the buffet was opened for the rest of the ball guests. The Court Ball ended at midnight at the very latest when the imperial couple withdrew, which was the sign to the guests that it was time to leave. As a leaving present visitors received the famous Court bonbonnières, a coveted souvenir that was proudly shown off at home). Two weeks later the Ball at Court took place. It was here that the crème de la crème of the aristocracy were amongst themselves, as only those who were "presentable at Court" were eligible to attend and were invited personally. It was thus a correspondingly more intimate and aristocratic event, with no more than 700 guests invited. They were given a fine dinner with service at table instead of a buffet. As a side note, upon the ceasing of the monarchy in 1918, the City of Vienna Ball faded from memory but was re-launched on February 6, 1936. Today, the Vienna City Hall hosts the Concordia Ball, but other balls have been held there since January 14, 1991, including the Figaro Ball and the Life Ball.