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Baltimore Kytherian Ball tickets - what a wonderful story they tell

Updated: Apr 4

Whilst browsing through listings on eBay looking for Kytherian memorabilia I stumbled across a listing that caught my attention. I discovered for sale a collection of 12 tickets for functions in America of which seven were tickets to the Kytherian Brotherhood of Baltimore and Vicinity Annual Ball (Grand Ball). Included was a book of raffle tickets.

I ordered the items and after a long wait I finally received the package. I placed the tickets in date order on my dining room table in a row so they could be seen clearly. It was not until I really looked at the collection together that I could see the wonderful snapshot of history I had bought and the story these few pieces of cardboard could tell.

Tickets to Kytherian Brotherhood of Baltimore Grand Balls purchased on Ebay

The ball tickets were dated 1936, 1937, two from 1940 (with one being complimentary) 1946 and 1948. Three of the tickets had a complimentary stamp across the front. I did find it unusual two from 1940 were different colours. Was this is aging of the tickets or were they meant to be different? The 1936 ticket was for their third annual ball. This is a very early piece of the Kytherian Brotherhood of Baltimore’s history.

The first thing I noticed was the layout of the tickets. They all had the same layout of the text and the same logo of a mythical lion with a book and Latin text as the background. I tried to translate the text on the left and right page of the lions book, and I believe the left says “Peace be with you” and I am not sure about the right page. It says something like “stand by me”. I have assumed this was the symbol of the Kytherian Brotherhood of Baltimore at the time. UPDATE - Kalie has informed me that the lion is the lion of Saint Mark and the text means "peace unto you Mark my evangelist". It is the symbol of the Venetians.

All but the 1937 ticket had a stub to be filled out with a number corresponding to the number of the ticket that would have been cut off at presentation of the ticket upon arrival. This may have become a ticket for the lucky door raffle. Unfortunately there is no indication of what the prize would have been.

What is interesting is the price of the tickets. The 1936, and 1940 tickets sold for 75c and were tax exempt. I used a historic currency calculator and the 1938 is worth $16.50 today. The 1940 is about $16.60 today. The Fourth Annual Ball in 1937 was $1.00 and was tax exempt. The price rose to $1.25 plus 25c tax in 1946, which is about $23.90 today. The 1948 ticket was cheaper than 1946 and was $1.00 plus 20c tax which is $15.45 when converted.

My curiosity led me to research why the 1948 ticket cheaper than the 1946 ticket. A closer look at these two tickets revealed the 1946 ball was held at a place called Alcazar located at Cathedral and Madison streets. The 1948 ball was held at Pythian Hall located at Charles and Preston Streets. This might explain the cheaper ticket as the venues probably had different costs. I then looked at the location of the earlier balls and they were all held at Lehman’s Hall located at 848 N. Howard Street. I then looked if I could determine why the 1938 ticket was more expensive than the tickets dated before and after, but location and the musical band were exactly the same, so I have no idea why the price change.

Lehmann's Hall (1920-1930) Location of many of the early Baltimore Kytherian Balls. Julius Anderson Photograph Collection. Baltimore City Life Museum Collection. Maryland Historical Society
Alcazar Hall (1920-1930). The location of the 1946 Baltimore Kytherian Brotherhood Grand Ball . Image Julius Anderson Photograph Collection, Baltimore City Life Museum Collection, Maryland Center for History and Culture

The balls had Rudy Kilian’s Orchestra advertised as the band. I would assume this same band would have been used for all the balls from 1936-1948. They may have even been the entertainment at the very first Kytherian Ball of the Baltimore Kytherian Brotherhood. This band must have been popular to be used for this amount of time.

Each ball was held on the last or second last Sunday of September at 8:30 pm. Today most functions of the kind are held on a Saturday, but it is probable that most of the people attending the ball would have had their own businesses so Sundays probably made more sense. I am not sure of the trading laws in America at the time, but I could assume there was no trading on Sundays or the relative late start at 8:30 pm allows business owners to attend.

The book of raffle tickets that was included in the Ebay purchase was from the 1940 Kytherian Brotherhood of Baltimore ball. These tickets look exactly the same as raffle tickets you would have at a function today. There were 12 in a book and they sold for 10c each, 3 for 25c or $1.00 for the whole book. Today this is about $2.20 each, three for $5.50 or $22.10 for the book.

Raffle tickets also purchased from Ebay.

The best part of these tickets is the prize is mentioned. The prize is “Stage and Marionette Dolls - Three Awards - Value $15” which is about $332.50 today. I read this as there are three prizes of one doll each and the total value is $15. The dolls may have had different values or there may have been three dolls worth $5.00 each. This may sound like unusual prizes. The value of these dolls is high compared to the price of a ball ticket. I wonder if these dolls were popular at the time and sort after or just an unusual prize.

The tickets alone tell the above story, but when you then add other pieces of information this story becomes much richer. I did a google search and found on  a photo of the Kytherian Brotherhood of Baltimore committee members and other men and boys from 1943. I think it would be safe to assume that these are the faces of people who attended some, most or all of these balls. We can now add faces to the ball guests. Some of these men may have been on the ball organising committee and may have physically touched these actual tickets.

Photo including members of the Kytherian Brotherhood of Baltimore in 1943

Thanks to Elias Vlanton, there is a copy of the Kytherian Business Directory 1939 by the Kytherian Brotherhood of Baltimore available to download on our website here. This was possibly given out to attendees of the 1939 ball. The first few pages greet the guests to the ball and list the Board of Governors, the Board of Trustees and the ball committee members and their responsibilities. Unfortunately I do not have a copy of the ball ticket for 1939, but it is possible that most or all of the same people were involved in organising the 1940 ball.

The majority of the directory contains a directory of businesses, many owned by Kytherians, and individuals with the addresses and phone numbers. An amazing document that encourages Kytherian . It is not hard to imagine that these are the names of the people who attended some or all of the balls that the tickets represent. We now have names of some of the ball guests. There is also some other wonderful information in this directory and if you have an interest in Kytherian history then I recommend downloading this book.

Adding a few more pieces of information to these tickets has really given a vivid picture of  Kytherian balls from the past. This is great example of what memorabilia can tell us about history as described in a blog by Kalie in October 2023.

These tickets are now displayed in a photo frame placed on the bookshelf above my computer where I can see them every day. It is exciting to own such a special piece of the Kytherian Brotherhood of Baltmore and surrounds memorabilia. I hope if you or your family have any similar memorabilia you cherish it as much as I cherish these tickets.

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