My latest inspiration is Mardi Gras invitations from the late 19th and turn of the 20th centuries. They are amazingly lithographed with complicated die cuts, detailed illustrations and great typography. A quick Google image search of “vintage mardi gras invitations” or “vintage mardi gras dance cards” or “vintage mardi gras admit cards” will get you started (sometimes the admit cards are even more interesting than the invites).
The book MARDI GRAS TREASURES: Invitations of the Golden Age, is a great resource. As is the Carnival Collection online at Tulane University. You’ll find that there were some rather unusual themes, such as the Mistick Krewe of Comus 1873 ‘Missing Links”.
(Images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.)
Nicole Stowe, Visual Brand Identity at The Ramey Agency