My old dance buddy Chris Imershein of the North Carolina group Triangle Vintage Dance writes:
Just curious if you have any historical sources for the proper "spelling" of The Lancers Quadrille(s). Spare Parts has it as "Lancers" on the original [Civil War Ballroom] CD, but as "Lancer's" in their sheet music book. I've also seen it as Lancers' on the web. Any thoughts?
The earliest source I have for the Lancers is a photocopy of sheet music entitled:
The Lancer's Quadrilles,
or Duval of Dublin's Second Set
My copy is of a fourth edition, but it's likely that the typesetting remained the same. This version is dated back to 1817 via an advertisement cited by Philip J. S. Richardson in 1960 in The Social Dances of the Nineteenth Century in England:
The Dublin Evening Post, Thursday, May 1st, 1817:
NEW QUADRILLES--This Day is Published by I. Willis, No. 7 Westmoreland Street, price 3/3/d.
"La Dorset," "Lodoiska," "La Native," "The Lancers," with the figures in French and English as danced at the Countess of Farnham's Ball on Wednesday 9th of April 1817 at the Nobility's Assemblies and at the Rotunda. The Music by Yaniewicz and Spagnoletti. The figures by Mr. Duval.
To which is added a new Waltz by Spagnoletti, the much-admired Stop-Waltz and the National Waltz respectively dedicated by permission to the Right Honourable the Countess of Farnham--arranged for the Pianoforte, Harp or Violin.
The figures in my sheet music are as listed in the add, with the fourth figure, "Les Graces," and "The Lancers" titled in French "Les Lanciers".
The original title would thus appear to be The Lancer's Quadrilles...but the inconsistency of nineteenth century punctuation makes me take this with a grain of salt. At the bottom of each page of the music the title reappears (seven times in all) as "The Lancers or Duval's Quads Set 2." It is conceivable that the apostrophe in the title is actually a typographical error.
The other very early version of the Lancers is that of Joseph Hart, who in 1820 published Les Lanciers, a second set of Quadrilles, subtitled "...as danced by the nobility and gentry of Tenby in the summer of 1819." The French title would be translated simply as "The Lancers." Hart's is an easier set of figures than Duval's, and his set became the standard version. Two of the major London dancing masters of the late 1810s, Thomas Wilson and G.M.S. Chivers, include it in various books published from 1820-1824 under the names "The Lancers," "The Original Lancers," and simply "Lancers."
Later in the 19th century, dancing masters and authors such as Coulon, Hillgrove, Ferraro, Howe, and Dodworth are all in agreement in using Lancers with no apostrophe, though in his 1863 work,
A Complete Practical Guide to the Art of Dancing, Hillgrove manages to add an apostrophe in the chapter header (seen at left) which appears neither in the index nor in his earlier (1857) manual. This is an oddity, though. Most sources are consistent in the absence of an apostrophe.
Two authors, E. B. Reilly and C. Brooks, both manage to leave out the "s" as well, each including the "Lancer Quadrilles" in his book. I think these can be safely described as typographical errors; Brooks lists "Lancers" in his table of contents.
French sources are not particularly helpful; many do not even include a Lancers. Giraudet, compiling his hefty dance manual at the end of the nineteenth century, uses Quadrille des Lanciers in his index and as a subtitle introducing the quadrille. This could be translated literally to imply the possessive ("Quadrille of the Lancers") which would, when written in the usual English word order, require an apostrophe ("Lancers' Quadrille"). Further on, however, he refers to several variants simply as "Lanciers" (Les Lanciers Valsé, etc.) I think it would be a mistake to translate Quadrille des Lanciers quite so literally.
So which to use? I think that the simple "Lancers" is the most correct, certainly for the common mid- and late nineteenth century Lancers descended from Hart's set. For referring specifically to the very early Duval's set, it's a little less clear, but I would still mildly favor the apostrophe-free version used on the music pages over the "Lancer's" used in the title.
But as noted above, all these different versions, errors though some may be, are nineteenth-century errors as well. I'm not inclined to be critical of anyone who simply uses what is given in a particular source.
"My guess was either (1) the sheet music you used for the book said Lancer's or (2) random typo."
"I've seen Lancers all ways on old sheet music & dance manuals. Yes for both (1) & (2)!"