I'm accustomed to finding duplicate dance figures in the little country dance tune books of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. That's why I've taken to calling them tune books, since calling them dance manuals implies that the dance figures themselves are new, unique, or special. What was exciting about them was the music; the figures were repetitive and uninspired. In the little tune books, with twelve or twenty-four tunes, I'll often notice that the same dance figures (the complete sequence given for a tune) appear with two different tunes. In the larger books, with two hundred or more tunes, I'll find several instances of repetition without much effort, with some figures being used several times.
And sometimes I find a doozy of a tune book whose publisher repeated so many dance figures -- even by the low standards of the era -- that more than half are duplicates. That's unusual enough to be worth talking about by way of an example of how blithely indifferent dancers of this era were to originality in their country dance choreography. And it can serve as Exhibit A for any future discussions of the interchangeability of Regency dance tunes and figures, which many present-day dancers have trouble accepting.
Twenty Four Country Dances, for the Year 1803 Composed by Mr. Gray, Adapted for the Violin, German Flute, Oboe, &c. with Figures was published by Thompson's Music Warehouse, home of the publishers of the long-running series of annual Thompson's Twenty Four Country Dances for the Year ___ as well as the periodic volumes of Thompson's Compleat Collection. But this book does not appear to be part of the standard Thompson's series. Having a named composer is unusual; all of the Thompson series books I have seen are anonymous. And its lack of the typical Thompson's tagline, "As they are Perform'd at Court, Bath and all Publick Assemblys" implies to me that this music was not performed in any such venues, though perhaps the composer had hopes of it. Was Mr. Gray such a noted composer or musician that Thompson's decided it was worth publishing a book of his tunes? Or was this the equivalent of a modern vanity press publication commissioned privately by Mr. Gray?
I'm not qualified to judge Mr. Gray's talents as a composer, but judging from their names, the tunes do appear to be unique. While a few of the titles ("Sleepy Moggy", "Bartholemew Fair", "Golden Farmer") match those in other publications, comparing the music shows that they are actually different tunes. I can't rule out the possibility that Mr. Gray cribbed all of his music from elsewhere and gave it new titles, but I'll give him the benefit of the doubt.
Note the phrasing of the book's title: Dances...Composed by Mr. Gray...with Figures. Mr. Gray is the composer of the music ("dances"). He may or may not have been responsible for setting figures to his tunes; it may have been someone at Thompson's, or some poor freelancer, or maybe a friend or relative of Mr. Gray's. Whoever it was did perhaps the shoddiest job I've ever seen. They should win some sort of prize for the highest overall percentage of duplicate figures.
Of the twenty-four tunes, only ten are given dance figures that are unique within this book. Eight tunes share four dance figures, each being used twice. The other six tunes share only two dance figures between them, each appearing three times. Here are the repeating figures:
Foot it change sides & back again. lead down 1st Cu: up again & cast off. hands 6 round & back again. chain pousette with the top & bottom Cu:
Appears with "A House a Fire" and "Edinburgh Races"
1st. Cu: sett to the 2d. Lady & hands 3 round, the same to the 2d. Gen: lead down the middle, up again, Allemand & Swing Corners.
Appears with "Trip to Preston Guild" and "Madame Recaimer’s Waltz"
1st. Lady set to the 2d. Gen: & turn the 3d. lead down the middle up again & Allemand.
Appears with "Bartholemew Fair", "The Lawyer’s Fee", and "Miss Randle’s Whim". Note that this figure is also carelessly edited; there needs to be a parallel set-and-turn for the first Gent!
1st. & 2d. Cu: set hands across back again lead down the middle, up again, right & left.
Appears with "Jack Tar’s Delight" and "Ratling Morgan"
The 3 Ladies lead round, the 3d. Gen: the Gen: round the 3 Ladies, lead down the middle, up again, cast off, & Allemand.
Appears with "Sleepy Moggy", "Lord Lotherdale['s] Favorite", and "The Voice of Nature"
Change, sides back, again, hands across, back again, lead down the middle, up again, Allemand.
Appears with "Second Thoughts are Best" and a second tune whose title is cut off at the top of the page. Note that the incorrect punctuation (more careless editing!) is misleading; the opening figure is "change sides, back again."
The ten tunes appearing with dance figures that show up only once in this particular manual are:
"Tom Jones Waltz" "Lord Guilford's Whim"
"Miss Mary's Frolick" "Lord Duncan's Favorite"
"Monsieur Garnarin's Flight" "Lord Nelson's Whim"
"Miss Derby's Waltz" "Now or Never"
"Lady Howard's Waltz" "The Golden Farmer"
Note that figures being used only once within this manual does not mean they are unique in general; the dance figures I have spot-checked, including the ones with duplicates in this book, all have multiple matches in other books as well, which is exactly what I would expect.
I should add a note of thanks here to Robert Keller for his Dance Figure Index: English Country Dances, 1700-1827, which makes it terrifically easy to search for duplicate dance figures and is a tremendous resource for researching historical country dance.