Monday, October 26, 2020

1890 Fingernail Etiquette

 

The proper length of the little finger-nail in the pointed style is about a quarter of an inch.



Nail-Style Etiquette Reveals Personality and Nationality


The artist has sketched a couple of the nails of the period. One in the English style, the other, the French. The rounded nail is English, the pointed one French. These two styles are admirably symbolic of the style and conversation of the wearer. The English woman, rounded and pleasant; the French woman, remarkably pointed. The proper length of the little finger-nail in the pointed style is about a quarter of an inch. — Pall Mall Gazette, 1890



Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Editor for Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Brazil’s Royals’ Etiquette and Jewels


The last Empress of Brazil, Thereza Christina (1822-89) was the daughter of King Francis I of the Two Sicilies and Maria Isabella of Spain. She and Pedro were married in 1842, for 46 years. She died in 1889. — Public domain photo of Teresa Cristina of the Two Sicilies 1888


Brazil’s Splendid Crown Jewels

I wonder what has become of the Crown Jewels of Brazil? They were in a large measure derived from Portugal, of which for hundreds of years, the Crown had the exclusive right to own Brazilian diamonds. Those which it did not wish to keep were sold, and their proceeds were paid into the Treasury. A great quantity were given to the churches and looted by the French when they invaded Portugal. I never saw more intensely brilliant diamonds than those of the ex-Empress, Theresa Maria and the Princess de Joinville, who is sister of the ex-Emperor, writes the Paris correspondent London Truth.

Marie de Gloria was the eldest of the four children of Pedro I, and was given a share of the regalia. Pedro I is a great-uncle of the present King of Portugal and would be Monarch of that country, if his father had not made Brazil a separate empire and settled it upon him. The first Emperor was a clever man, but had the manners of a buffoon. He was fond all his life of playing blindman’s bluff. It was hard, he thought, for a King hemmed in by etiquette, to enjoy himself unless he broke loose in a game of romps. Miguel, his brother, had the advantage of him in a handsome face, an elegant, slender figure and gentle, plausible manners. He had the grace of a feline. 

I never saw a plainer set of women than the ladies of the Empress of Brazil. Her Majesty herself was far from pretty in youth. But she improved wonderfully as she advanced in years, when her face ceased to be the shape of a long wedge, and was set round with white hair, which appeared to light it up. It grew to be a kindly and rather intelligent face. The eyes, perhaps, are too searching. They visibly seek to take the measure of those who are presented to her. She has a fine Italian voice when she speaks freely, which is not often, a guard being placed by a diplomatic Italian temper upon her lips.— Blue Lake Advocate, 1890




Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Editor for Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Confusing Etiquette with Manners












It is a pity that the word “manners” should be confused, as it often is, with the less essential term, “etiquette.” Manners are the same the world over, while etiquette is simply a cloak which may vary according to time and place. The world is so over-stocked with so-called “books of etiquette,” all loaded with “don’ts” that no human being is likely to do, and “do’s” that are equally ridiculous, that one wearies of the word, but manners are as necessary as when, long ago, it was written “manners maketh man.”
Women’s Gym Dance Class at Buell Hall, 1901— Photo source, Pinterest 


From “The Week in San Jose Society”


The hop given on Friday evening at Library Hall was the opening one of the series given by the Misses Lewis during each season. These hops originated with the idea of giving the pupils of the dancing classes an opportunity to practice their newly learned steps with other dancers, and, in mingling with others, gain the ease and grace of manners that comes in no other way. 

It is a pity that the word “manners” should be confused, as it often is, with the less essential term, “etiquette.” Manners are the same the world over, while etiquette is simply a cloak which may vary according to time and place. The world is so over-stocked with so-called “books of etiquette,” all loaded with “don’ts” that no human being is likely to do, and “do’s” that are equally ridiculous, that one wearies of the word, but manners are as necessary as when, long ago, it was written “manners maketh man.” 

Good manners consist of a ready acknowledgment of the rights of others, a readiness to concede in the way of kindness, a cheerful readiness and evident pleasure in fulfilling all the little duties of social intercourse— pleasure in the pleasure of others. Of course, the birthplace of this teaching must be the home, but the practical application must be elsewhere, where the mingling with others is on a larger scale than the home circle affords, and where the intercourse is of a more formal nature. 

Athletics have done a great deal toward bringing young people together in a wholesome band of comradeship, but the question now is to counteract the effect of too much equality. Longfellow, in one of his poems, tells of a statue on three sides of which is the inscription “Behold,” while on the fourth side is written the warning “Be not too bold,” so, while we preach athletics we must at the same time guard against the evils they bring in their train.

Not long ago, a well known San Jose woman, who has devoted her life to the training of young people, complained of what she called “foot-ball manners.” It is, indeed, deplorable if the rosy cheeks and strong physique of this generation must be bought with a sacrifice of courtesy and chivalry. It is here that the dancing school steps in; a strong counteracting influence, where, while their bodies are acquiring grace and motion the minds of the boys and girls are being imbued with that grace of thought which wins for them the title of gentle-men and gentle-women. — San Jose Mercury News, 1901



Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Editor for Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia


Friday, October 23, 2020

Degree in Etiquette Never Offered

                          
From what we at Etiquipedia have researched, NYU never did offer the degree mentioned in Dix’s 1916 article. It is disappointing, though, as it would have been one way of actually “certifying” someone as knowledgeable in etiquette and manners. — Elizabeth Meriwether Gilmer was an American “Agony Aunt” who wrote under the pen name, “Dorothy Dix.” A forerunner of today’s advice columnists, Dix was America’s highest paid and most widely read female journalist when she died in 1951. Her advice was syndicated in newspapers around the world, with an estimated audience of 60 million readers. Along with her column, she campaigned for woman suffrage.
— Public domain image



School of Manners, Dorothy Dix Says, Is Badly Needed American Child Too Often Lacking in Politeness and Little Graces of Human Intercourse

It is announced that the New York University is going to establish a school of manners, and that the degree of M. E.—Magister Elegantiarium—may be conferred on such students as perfect themselves in the etiquette of polite society. This news sounds almost too good to be true. Let us hope, however, that such a course of study is really to be established in one of our great schools, and that it will be compulsory, for nothing is more sadly needed.

For whatever other charms and virtues the American youth may possess, good manners are seldom among them. As a child he is almost invariably a little savage. As a hobbledehoy he is generally a hoodlum, and as a grown man, he is only too often an awkward blunderer, who is like a bull in the social china shop. On every side we encounter multitudes of men who have intelligence, force, power, men who have achieved success in their own particular calling, but who are as ignorant as babes of any of the graces of human intercourse. 

They cannot enter or leave a room without falling over their own feet. They do not know what to say when presented to a stranger, or how either to pay or receive a compliment. At dinner parties you may see them hopelessly floundering around among the silverware. At restaurants you may observe them with their legs twined like snakes around their chair legs, grasping their forks as if they were about to harpoon an attacking whale, and, alas, you may even pass away an evening listening to them eat their soup. 

Of course, we excuse such men by saying that they have been too busy with big affairs to give their attention to such small matters as the proper use of a fork or a spoon. We say that it's more important that a man’s heart should be of gold than that he. should wear the right sort of coat for the occasion, and we try to gloss over his boorishness by calling him a rough diamond. All of which is sheer nonsense. Nobody will contend that a rough diamond is as valuable as one that is cut and polished, and the truth is that while a man may succeed without good manners, he would succeed better with them. 

To know how to do things, to possess what the French call savoir faire, is always a help, never a handicap in life. People have always appreciated this fact, so far as women were concerned. In all girls' schools special attention is paid to deportment, and girls are taught the niceties of etiquette that they perhaps de not have an opportunity to learn in their own homes. More than that, at home stress is laid on little girls behaving like ladies, and wherever you go, the small daughter of the house will receive you charmingly, drop her little courtesy and endeavor to engage you in courteous conversation. 

But apparently the mothers of the same families make no effort to instill politeness into their boys, and their lads will storm into the room with their caps on. They will never stop to speak to the visitors, and only grunt by way of reply when addressed. And when these boys are sent off to school, no effort seems to be made to supplement their lack of home training in manners. They are grounded in all the arts and sciences except the most important art and science of all, which is that of making oneself agreeable to one’s fellow creatures. 

For, when all is said and dont, good manners will carry one further than anything else in the world. They are a letter of credit» that every one of us honors* at sight. The clown may compel our grudging respect, but present our hearts as a free gift to the courtier. A young man may be of the most sterling worth and yet wear a decollete collar that exposes his Adam’s apple and a coat and trousers and waistcoat of different makes and colors so that he looks like an animated patchwork quilt, but if he and another youth who knew how to dress, applied for the same job, the good clothes would get it. 

A man might he a genius and yet eat peas with his knife, but he would have a hard time getting close enough to those who might help him to get a chance to show what he could do. A man may have almost superhuman ability in any line, but if he is rude and crude in his manners, if he does not know how to please, he lives and dies neglected. On the other hand, the man who has what we call a charming personality, who is gracious in speech and polite in manners, finds a helping hand always at his elbow and a friendly shoulder ready to boost him up the ladder. That is why it is so important to teach boys good manners and why the opening a department in the New York University is epoch-making. — By Dorothy Dix, 1916


Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Editor for Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia


Thursday, October 22, 2020

Having Money vs Having Manners

 

The same people who say they disdain manners are outraged when they are treated rudely by those who are of their own circumstances or whose services they are buying. Why, then, does etiquette's reputation for abetting snobbery persist? — It is believed that the word “snobbery” came into use for the first time in 1820’s England. According to Wikipedia, “‘Snob’ is a pejorative term for a person that believes there is a correlation between social status and human worth.” The word “snob” also refers to a person that feels superiority over those from lower education levels, lower “social classes,” or other social areas.


The Poor Can Have Manners, and the Rich Can Lack Taste

Considering the frenzy of interest in consumer goods in this society, it is astonishing to Miss Manners that so many people presume that the gentle art of manners is based on a preoccupation with money. Etiquette, it is widely believed, consists of forms of behavior requiring fortunes in silverware, evening clothing and unwieldy vehicles. Most people only feel they need etiquette on occasions when they are spending a great deal of money putting on a wedding, for example. Otherwise, they can apparently make do with rudeness. 

Dear, dear. You can imagine how upsetting Miss Manners finds this. She doesn't know which offends her more, the people who seek to demonstrate their genuineness by eschewing manners or those who are scrambling to learn them to serve their social ambitions. They both end up being rude. The truth is that there is very little relationship between manners and money. Certainly, Miss Manners has never noticed any preponderance of politeness on the part of the rich. Good manners are, first of all, free. And that is not generally true of status symbols.

Secondly, they cover all forms of outward human behavior, from those needed for the most routine daily encounters in households or on highways, to the special ones for special occasions. And thirdly, the consequences of violating them in ordinary life are more unpleasant than the effects of small technical errors on formal occasions, when it would be rude of other people present to notice. The same people who say they disdain manners are outraged when they are treated rudely by those who are of their own circumstances or whose services they are buying. Why, then, does etiquette's reputation for abetting snobbery persist? 

Miss Manners attributes part of it to the fact that one always thinks of familiar behavior as being simply natural, and strange behavior as etiquette. Everyday behavior is therefore classified as nice or mean, rather than good manners or bad manners, while the self-consciousness one has on special occasions leads one to identify their traditional practices as manners. But there is also a mistaken belief that knowledge and possession of expensive things are themselves a demonstration of propriety. People sometimes try to lead Miss Manners into condemning inexpensive goods especially clothing made of synthetic materials as “tacky.” If “tacky” is intended to mean “improper,” they are quite wrong. 

Propriety and impropriety have nothing to do with how much one can afford to spend. That someone does not wear expensive fabrics has nothing whatever to do with the quality of the manners that person may exhibit. If “tacky” refers to taste, then there is a connection with money. Rich people may have not only the money to spend, but also more leisure to learn to distinguish quality in material objects. Miss Manners has nothing whatever against such an educational activity, which can be great fun and is not unknown among people who do not have money. 

Since the invention of the museum, people can study and enjoy things without owning them and the rich should remember that their servants usually know more about the quality of their silver and linens, from cleaning them, than the owners do. None of this is within the province of manners, however. Etiquette’s interest in taste, as that applies to consumer items, is chiefly in combating ostentation. What is improper is the diamond bracelet worn for tennis, the car or house referred to as a “limousine” or “mansion,” the designer label any inappropriate display of wealth, or preoccupation with the cost of one’s own or other people’s possessions. In fact, there is hardly anything more rude and vulgar than an active interest in whether someone else's clothes are made of synthetic materials. — Judith Martin, aka Miss Manners, 1987


Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Editor for Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Etiquette of 19th - Early 20th C. Dining

An informal table set with a service plate, an under plate, a ramekin dish in a silver holder with handle, holding the first course for the meal, for each diner at the table. Victorian meals by 1900, were so elaborate, that books were written to explain how to serve the food. Setting the table might have required as many as seven sterling silver forks for all of the various dishes that were to be served. By the 1920s though, casual dining ushered in Fiesta ware, which continues to be popular with collectors today.

   

     How Dishes Have Changed 

Table manners, just like clothes, have become less formal and less complicated in the past 50 years. A set of dishes today will have about six pieces for a place setting, and a set of tableware (often made of stainless steel, which doesn’t need to be cleaned like silver) will have six or seven pieces to a place setting.

The Victorian dinner table seemed to be filled with hundreds of styles of silverware and dishes. Etiquette demanded the correct utensils for each type of food. A set of silver could have more than 100 pieces. There could be a special fork for oysters, salad, dinner, lunch, dessert, cake, pie and cold meat, and all sorts of serving forks.

Even dishes had special uses. How many people today use a ramekin (a small, straight-sided dish used for custards), a cream soup dish (shaped like a small bowl with two handles), a teacup, coffee cup, demitasse cup, after-dinner cup and many other dishes? Collectors can rarely identify a mush-and-milk set, herring dish, asparagus bowl, berry set or even a shredded-wheat dish. Each was made in a special shape but with the same pattern. Modern examples are not even made. — By Ralph and Terry Kovel in the Times, 1999

Old advertisement for a berry set. These pressed glass sets make entertaining a bit more special and can be found in antique shops or online.
— Photos from Etiquipedia’s private library

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Glove History and Etiquette Facts

During the Dark Ages only men wore them. Ladies needed permission from the King to put on gloves. But Catherine di Medici changed all that. Thereafter, gloves became a status symbol among women, with England's Queen Elizabeth I emphasizing her status with more than 2,000 pairs. Today a woman shopping has almost as many kinds, lengths and colors to choose from. And gloves very definitely mark her fashion status.



Do You Have Your Fashion Status Well in Hand?

Choosing a pair of gloves to go with your costume is like selecting a sauce for a very good dish. The wrong choice can spoil everything. Yet ladies can be thankful for such a dilemma because wearing gloves marks their improved position in a man's world.

During the Dark Ages only men wore them. Ladies needed permission from the King to put on gloves. But Catherine di Medici changed all that. Thereafter, gloves became a status symbol among women, with England's Queen Elizabeth I emphasizing her status with more than 2,000 pairs. Today a woman shopping has almost as many kinds, lengths and colors to choose from. And gloves very definitely mark her fashion status.

In vogue are sleeveless dresses topped by sleeveless or short-armed jackets or coats, all of which require gloves to make up the fabric deficit. Glove length is described in terms of buttons (a measuring idea the French devised) even though the gloves often may lack buttons altogether. Each button corresponds to an inch measuring from the lowest part of the thumb seam to the cuff of the glove.

Here are the kinds of gloves your accessory wardrobe should Include:

SHORTY - It stops at the wrist where it may or may not be fastened with a button. The most versatile of all lengths, it looks as well with sleeveless dresses as with long sleeved coats. The trim, style and material determines whether the gloves should be worn with dressy, tailored, day or evening clothes.

SLIP-ON - Primarily a daytime glove, it has no fastening and ranges from three to five button lengths.

GAUNTLET - It Is four to six buttons in length, has a flared cuff, and is pull-on In style. It, too, is primarily a daytime glove.

MOUSQUETAIRE - Lengths range from 8 to 20 buttons and have a buttoned opening on the inner side of the wrist. It is for dressy or formal wear with dresses.

THE PULL-ONS - The length also range from 8 to 16 buttons. They have no opening or fastening. The elbow length size, about 12 buttons (or longer If worn crushed below the elbow) is the season's most popular length because they take up where cape sleeved, or elbow length, sleeves on new style coats leave off. Longer pull-ons are restricted to evening wear.

A mere 75 years ago the act of pulling on long gloves was considered to be too intimate to be done in the presence of a gentleman. Today ladies slip them on and off as unblushingly and as casually as hats. Generally speaking, except on formal occasions when a long glove is an integral part of the ensemble, gloves are removed soon after entering a home, theater or restaurant. At a party it is not correct to do more than sip from a glass with gloves on. However, etiquette today no longer requires a woman to remove her gloves before shaking hands. — The Sun, 1963


Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Editor for Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia