Monday, October 30, 2017

A Street Car Etiquette Fail

“Street Car etiquette is developing in so many directions just now, that one must be prepared for anything... It occurred to me that this was probably the very latest development.” 1899 – (Above) A horse drawn street car, from 20 years earlier than this article. By 1899, most street cars were motorized in the US, but few had any heat in them during cold weather, so hay or carpets were put down on the floors to make riders more comfortable, but the drivers continued to have no protection from the elements.

Before Chivalry Died, It Was Obviously Ailing

“An Unexpected Courtesy”

“I was returning home with a small traveling bag in my hands,” says the woman, “and as it chanced to be just at the rush hours and the cars crowded, of course, I did not have a seat. But I was standing beside a gentlemanly young man who had a seat, and who, I soon saw, was also possessed of a kind heart.” ‘Can’t I hold your bag for you?’ he asked, politely, raising his hat. “I own I was a little surprised at first, but Street Car etiquette is developing in so many directions just now, that one must be prepared for anything. For a moment, I hardly knew what to say, and then, as it occurred to me that this was probably the very latest development, and it would not be well to check any one
s courteous inclinations, I thanked the young man, handed him my bag, which he held and sat until I reached my destination, while I stood in front of him.”—New York Times, 1899


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

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Etiquette and Who Should Teach It

On adding the teaching of etiquette to the school curriculum – “There can hardly be a more enlarged field for study and practice than this involves ; nor is there any field of education in which there is greater scope for the ingenuity of the urbane teacher. Much depends on the teacher, and far more on the matter of her instruction.”

Politeness by the Book

The school board of this city has resolved to add a course of lessons in etiquette to the regular curriculum of the public schools. Manuals of politeness are to be furnished, aud some of the best readers will read aloud from these, the teacher following in a brief oral exposition with practice in the various branches. The studies in etiquette are to cover a wide range. General precepts are to be particularized into such details as dress, carriage and bearing, conversation, table-manners, riding and driving, school-deportment and the rules of behavior laid down by George Washington. 


There can hardly be a more enlarged field for study and practice than this involves ; nor is there any field of education in which there is greater scope for the ingenuity of the urbane teacher. Much depends on the teacher, and far more on the matter of her instruction. A teacher who undertakes to “hear a recitation” in politeness, after the wooden manner in which a large proportion of the recitations are “heard,” will make the thing intensely ridiculous. An acidulous person whose habit is to enforce lessons by scolding them into the children will make their victims hate politeness aud despise the very name of it. The instructor who drills the classes in the mere observances of polite forms and phrases may succeed in rescuing the scholars from the extremity of boorishness, but will fail in imparting to them any of the graces of geuuiue good breeding. The teacher whose custom it is to bark and bite at the poor children in order to drive instruction into their unwilling minds will find himself a laughing-stock as he reads off from his politeness-book some unpleasant injunction to courteous demeanor. 

There is a great deal of so-called politeness which is only of the book, bookish. It is empty, formal and unsatisfactory, it is well that children speak when they are spoken to, do as they are bidden, salute their betters in an elegant manner, keep their persons clean and do unto others as they would have others do to them. But the mechanical ritual of all these things may be made a continual horror. Some teachers and parents keep children in a constant state of worry by saying, as they tweak the ears of the poor creatures or with the knuckles rap them on the head: “Sit up, there!” or “Behave now, will you?” Many otherwise excellent people introduce this sort of etiquette-drill at the table, until the rigorous way in which the lambs are made to bleat out “please” and “thank you” is enough to destroy the appetite of anybody who practices and values true politeness. 

Success or failure in teaching politeness depends on whether the teacher is or is not polite than on the particular manual of etiquette which a school board may select. There are fine arts and true graces in real politeuess which some boors can never master. There is a refinement and an elegance in it which is inborn with many people. If instruction in the art is attempted with the right spirit and by the proper sort of people, there is hope that it may be measurably successful. But there are some crusty and ill-favored imparters of instruction who should forever be excused from all attempts at teaching the doctrines or practices of etiquette. –Philadelphia Times, May 8, 1880


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

Friday, October 27, 2017

Automobile Etiquette

Traffic laws are simply rules of etiquette for streets and highways,” according to the Commissioner, “guides that make it easier for us to move about in the car without mishap." 

Courtesy Is Stressed

“Barging through traffic in an automobile probably means not obeying traffic laws, and disregarding the rules for safe driving,” according to Clifford E. Peterson, Commissioner of the California Highway Patrol. “On the sidewalk, a person is usually courteous enough to allow room for another person to pass by, but the pedestrian- become-driver feels that he must ‘elbow’ his way through traffic,” he said. “And sooner or later, ‘elbowing’ lands him either in the repair shop—hospital—or both. 

“Traffic laws are simply rules of etiquette for streets and highways,” continued the Commissioner, “guides that make it easier for us to move about in the car without mishap." 

He listed the following safe driving rules as especially worth remembering: 
  1. On a right turn, move over to the right-hand side of the roadway as far as possible. 
  2. Get into the proper lane for the turning movement long before you reach the intersection — a full block ahead is not too far. 
  3. Move into the center lane of traffic for the left turn, but in making the turn, don’t cut too sharply. 
  4. Traffic laws will help you only if you obey them. – Sausalito News, 1950


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

1960s Women’s Business Etiquette


Though the 1960’s Marlo Thomas’ sitcom, “That Girl” always featured her character impeccably dressed, this particular look wouldn’t make the cut in the Aetna office of 1967. The ‘kicky’ white hosiery and length of the skirt, would rule this look out. Then again, she played a struggling actress, not a secretary. As far as the advice for posture, grooming and courtesy goes, this is still valuable etiquette advice for most office jobs.

Neatness And Courtesy Boon To Girls Starting Job Soon

If you're planning to begin your first full-time job upon graduation this fall, you may be a little frightened at the prospect. Don’t be. The change from classroom to office will be an adventure. You’ll enjoy more money and more independence than you have ever had before. And you’ll have more responsibilities. A good appearance and cooperative attitude will go a long way in smoothing your adjustment to the business world. To help you make the change, here are some suggestions from Aetna Life and Casualty, which employs over 15,000 women nationally: 
  • MAKE-UP: Avoid heavy make-up, especially on your eyes. Use a light touch to achieve a natural look. 
  • HAIR; Wear it long or short, up or down, whichever way pleases you and compliments your face, but always have it shining clean and neat. 
  • POSTURE: Stand tall. Slouching does nothing for the fit of your clothes, your appearance, or the way you feel. And, you won't tire as easily if you sit with your back straight and feet on the floor while typing. 
  • CLOTHES: Your business wardrobe need not be expensive. Many of the clothes you already own will adapt nicely to office wear. Simple dresses, of course, are always appropriate. And you can utilize many of your skirts if you wear them with attractive blouses or dress sweaters. Save the button-down collars and shetlands for casual wear. Leave your mini’s at home. They don't adapt very well to sitting at a typewriter or bending over files. Hemlines should fall anywhere from the bottom of your knees to an inch above them, depending on your preference. 
  • SHOES: While either high or low heels are acceptable, you’ll probably find the new lower heel styles most comfortable. Loafers and sandals are out. 
  • HOSE: A must in the office, winter or summer. But keep them businesslike. Fishnet or textured stockings are “kicky” for fun times but not for work. Naturally, tights and knee socks are taboo. JEWELRY: Keep it simple. Dangling earrings and jangling bracelets are not only inappropriate in the office but present a safety hazard. They can get caught on typewriters and file drawers.
  • HANDS: Keep them well groomed at all times. They are in the spotlight when you perform office duties. Nails should be of medium length and evenly tapered. Long nails have a habit of breaking when you type or, worse yet, getting in the way. A coat of clear light polish will make your nails more attractive and give them added strength to help prevent peeling and splitting.
  • VOICE: Keep your voice controlled and distinct, especially in telephone conversations.
  • PERSONALITY: Be friendly. You'll find that your coworkers will respond favorably. And remember that your boss deserves respect and consideration. 
  • OFFICE ETIQUETTE: You will want to be more formal at work than you would be at home. Remember that any rule of etiquette is based on one simple concept making those around you feel comfortable in your presence. If you are polite and courteous, you will quickly feel “at home” in your new job. – Madera Tribume, 1967



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

Etiquette on the Big Screen

When suddenly confronted with the problem of how to conduct one’s self with propriety, the best book is not at hand. But a trip to the nearest picture house displaying “movies” chats may save the day, comments the New York Tribune. 

Silent Movie Chats

“THE screen theaters have joined the movement for the spread of social etiquette. When suddenly confronted with the problem of how to conduct one’s self with propriety, the best book is not at hand. But a trip to the nearest picture house displaying “movies” chats may save the day, comments the New York Tribune. Besides, it is much more enlightening to see the thing done with proper captions. Such maxims as “Never place your knife in your mouth,” accompanied by a picture of the consequences of the disregard of such inadvertences, should sink deeply into the mind. Lessons in etiquette are always in order. Why not teach them in public? The screen purveyors of etiquette will he public benefactors, particularly if they show the most polite manner of giving the elbow courteous in a subway crush.” – Sacramento Union, 1922

For more on Silent Movie Manners click here

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

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Eediotic Etiquette Satire




















“The Art Kissing is the art of extracting honey from tulips, and protecting the same against frost by careful massage and frequent watering. Not more — nor less — than two individuals are necessary. Kissing is practised in all parts of the world, but flourishes best on verandas, unlighted halls, back stairs, buggies, arbors, canoes, hay-racks, cradles, and go-carts.”

A New Book for the General Reader
“Eediotic Etiquette,” by Gideon Wurdz (Charles Wayland Towne), author of “The Foolish Dictionary,” is conceived in the same gleeful spirit as the author's previous successful work. It gives complete rules of deportment for afternoon teas, proposals, bargain counters, motoring, home shows, kissing and all the familiar contingencies of modern social life. A complete book of etiquette, in burlesque. A bright satire on the over-serious books on the same subject. While written only to amuse, much good, common horse-sense is included in this fun-making at the expense of social social customs and conventionalities. The author has a singularly delightful faculty of making everyone laugh with him, not so much at as over their own foolishnesses; and having extracted humor from the dictionary, he now finds a fruitful field for his good-natured raillery in the follies of society. Eediotic Etiquette, by Gideon Wurdz, New York, Frederick A. Stokes company, Los Angeles, Stoll and Thayer. – Los Angeles Herald, 1906
A Sampling of “Eediotic Etiquette”
“Society, stricken with lorgnettes and an appetite for tea, usuallydrops in about four P.M. for a session of hard looks and soft drinks.” 

ART EXHIBITS 
The modern Art Exhibit is a conspiracy organized and perpetrated by a long-haired Dauber with a Latin Quarter accent and a Connoisseur with a taste in gold frames. 
An Art Exhibit, like the Circus, is entirely Circus surroundedby canvas, and the most impossible performances are carefully skyed.Spectators, at either kind of show, may eat, drink, and make merryduring the entire program. 
At an Art Exhibit, the puzzles are attractively posted all over thewalls, and the answers thereto plainly printed in a fat catalogue — tobe had of the doorkeeper for a small fee. 
Those unfortunates condemned to be hung are closely guarded by aplatoon of incandescents and several double-barrelled skylights. 
Society, stricken with lorgnettes and an appetite for tea, usuallydrops in about four P.M. for a session of hard looks and soft drinks. 
In the foreground stands the party with the Artist’s flowing coiffure and the necktie at large. This is an Artist. 
It is proper to accost him with a polite inquiry appertaining to hisprofession, such as "What medium do you use, Mr. Kromo?"
You are always safe in assuming that an artist uses some sort ofmedium, as he is generally in a trance.




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

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Gilded Age Etiquette Humor



Table Etiquette 
A correspondent, who is somewhat of a philanthropist in his way, sends up the following hints  on Table Etiquette, for the benefit of the members of the club. We believe they will be superfluous to most of our readers, but as our correspondent begs us not to lose the opportunity of improving the present occasion we append them: 
  1. Do not commence eating before your host gets through with his grace. I have known some men to bite a biscuit as large as a blacking-box into a half-moon, and have to hold it between his teeth, under a suspension of the rules during a blessing. This is disgraceful.
  2. Do not sup soup with a fork. Your soup will always have you at a disadvantage with such odds. Besides, it is “souperfluous.”
  3. In passing your plate to be helped, retain your knife and fork in your vest pocket.
  4. When asked for a dish, do not propel it across the surface of the table after the manner or game of shovel-board ; always pitch it gracefully, after the manner of quoits. This will be "quoit" sufficient.
  5. Never try to eat fish with a salt-cellar.
  6. While drinking, be careful not to empty hot coffee or anything of that sort into your neighbor's paper collar.
  7. Do not eat too fast. You will not “get left,” if you make up in heroic doses for that time.
  8. If you find anything auspicious in your hash, don't eat any more hash ; And if there is anything wrong in your butter, propose a toast or tell an anecdote.
  9. When you burn your mouth with a cold potato, don't whistle or make faces at the company, but shed tears in silence.
  10. Never leave the table without asking the lady of the house to be excused ; but if you happen to be at a barbecue or a free lunch, don't leave as long as there is a bone or a crumb in sight.
  11. Should you put too much pepper in your soup, and the tears come to your eyes in consequence, do not wipe your eyes and blow your nose in your napkin.
  12. As usual, when resting your elbows on the table that your neighbor's little preserve plate is not within reach, not that you need mind upsetting it, for that would only serve him right, but you may get your left sleeve jellied through his carelessness in not giving you room enough.
  13. Do not pick your teeth with your fork, or wipe it on the table-cloth after you have just extracted a long piece of sinew from a hollow in one of your double grinders.
  14. If you happen to partake of some dish with which you are unacquainted, don't spit it out on your plate with a splutter, as if you had been poisoned, because it might be supposed you had been accustomed to move in society. Simply rap on tbe table with your fork for the servant, and tell him, or her, to fetch a spittoon. By this time, all eyes will be upon you, and as the servant brings the spittoon you can eject the disagreeable mouthful with a proper air of disgust, remarking that you always hated French “kickshaws,” and preferred something the real origin of which you could guess at. By this proceeding you will let the people at the table see you know a thing or two, and are not to be easily taken in. –From the New York Dispatch, 1871


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

Etiquette and Privileges of the King

It is the accepted etiquette that the King never writes a letter. It must not be supposed he never sets pen to paper to his relatives on personal matters, and Queen Victoria was a voluminous correspondent with her official ministers, but outside such cases the only exception one can call to mind of recent years was the letter the King wrote to George Herring in connection with the latters munificent assistance to the Hospital Saturday fund. The accepted story is that Mr. Herring was offered a knighthood and declined, and that the letter was written in consequence, but the story is sometimes told differently. 



There are many curious matters of law, of rule and regulation and of etiquette, which constitute the divinity which "doth hedge a King." For some there are historical reasons in their origin; for others such reasons still exist; others arc mere matters of admitted propriety; others simply the crystallization of long custom and observance. On some matters, the King is governed by statute, in others he and his mere wishes are supreme, but even in the latter category, there are matters in which that pleasure must be conveyed in writing. 

The constitutional position of the Sovereign accounts for one, and to many of us groaning under the budget, a most important difference. The Sovereign pays no rates or taxes. The reason for this is that theoretically all taxes are levied in the King’s name for the purpose of carrying on the government and that, as in fact it would have been before the days of the civil list. To tax the income of the King for the purpose of defraying the King’s expenditure, was simply taking money from one of his pockets to put it into another. 

It is the accepted etiquette that the King never writes a letter. It must not be supposed he never sets pen to paper to his relatives on personal matters, and Queen Victoria was a voluminous correspondent with her official ministers, but outside such cases the only exception one can call to mind of recent years was the letter the King wrote to George Herring in connection with the latters munificent assistance to the Hospital Saturday fund. The accepted story is that Mr. Herring was offered a knighthood and declined, and that the letter was written in consequence, but the story is sometimes told differently. 

Those who need to correspond with his Majesty, who are aware ot the right procedure, usually write to the King's secretary or a member of the household, asking that the matter be placed before the King  but petitions for the exercise of the prerogative in any form on matters of state are required to be submitted through the home office. The King does not accept invitations and a visit of any form is not preceded thereby, but by his intimation that he will pay it. In other words, he always invites himself, and in matters of  social intercourse, the same etiquette extends to other members of the Royal family. The Queen never accompanies her husband to the establishment of a bachelor. If the King proposes to visit any house a list of the proposed guests has to be submitted to him beforehand, and this list the King revises, striking out and adding names at his pleasure. 

There are a number of little details of etiquette which are observed, the most noticeable of which is that finger glasses are never placed upon the table if a member of the royal family is present. The reason for this goes back to the Jacobite days, when the toast of the King was converted into treason by the passing of the glass “over the water.” The King never accepts a present from a private person except, of course, his own relatives, and never permits the dedication of a book to himself if there is the smallest likelihood of the exploitation of this dedication for commercial purposes. The rule, however, is relaxed to the extent of the frequent acceptance of copies of books from the authors, but in such cases the book is required to be bound according to a specified pattern. – The London Express, 1910


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

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Table Setting Etiquette, 1934

This vintage breakfast table setting, shows how simplicity of arrangement, colors and effective selection of china may combine to make a happy beginning for the day. (Then again, Etiquipedia notes, the sugar and caffeine rush of the typical 1930’s diet, could have something to do with that happy beginning.)


Table setting is often a problem for housewives. Books of etiquette sometimes disagree sharply as to what’s proper. Sometimes it's a matter of geography, too, with the East and West far apart. For Western homes, where informality is the rule, the Safeway Stores Homemakers’ Bureau has prepared a guide. Here in outline form, are its main points: 

Table linen should be spotless. Doilies, either linen of lace, are appropriate for informal luncheons and dinners. Colored linens are used only for luncheon and breakfast. For more formal service, completely cover the table, using linen of banquet cloth or an elaborate lace cloth. This is placed on the bare, polished table and not over colored cloth. Napkins should match linen in color if not in material. Breakfast and luncheon napkins may be small, but dinner napkins should be from 18 to 20 inches square. They are placed to the left of the silver, or if the table is crowded, on the service plate. They may lay folded in a triangle for breaklast or lunch, but are usually folded very simply for dinner. If folded in rectangular shape, place with open lower corner nearest the plate. Never stand a napkin on the table. 

Table decorations should be kept simple. A centerpiece is always appropriate, but should be kept low, not obstructing the view across the table. Candles have no place on the luncheon or tea table, unless they are lighted and the room darkened by drawing the shades. Silverware, whether plate or sterling, should be kept well polished and courses should not be included in the menu if the proper silver is not available. However, it is possible to substitute for various pieces. The position of flat silver is, as a rule, one inch from the edge and vertical to the edge of the table, placing it in correct sequence as used, beginning from the outside and working towards the plate. For informal entertaining at home, not more than four or six pieces of silver (not counting the oyster fork) should be laid on the table at one time. These generally consist of knife, fork, salad fork and spoon. 

If necessary, additional pieces may be placed on the table before the course is served. Knives are laid cutting edge toward the plate, next and to the right of the plate. Spoons are placed next to the knife, bowls up and parallel with the knife, if soup is to be served, the bouillon, cream soup or large soup spoon is placed on the outside; and next, the teaspoon. Forks are placed on the left of the salad plate, tines up. If salad is served Western style (before the main course) the dinner fork is placed next to the plate and then the salad fork. If the salad is to be served with the main course, or after the main course, the salad fork is put next to the plate. The cocktail fork or spoon is placed on the cocktail plate, parallel to the other silver on the table. Through popular usage, a spoon may easily be substituted for a cocktail fork, unless serving fish. 

Silver for the dessert may be brought in on the plate or laid on the table just before it is served. The water glass or goblet is placed above the tip of the dinner knife. If other glasses are used, they are placed to the right of the water glass or in a line slanting from the goblet to the right. Bread and butter plates are placed above the tips of the forks, in line with the water glasses. Bread and butter spreader may be placed in a variety of ways, laid on the top or right side of the bread and butter plate with the blade toward the center of the plate, or diagonally across the top of the plate. Salt and pepper containers may be placed at either end of the table within easy reach of the guests; If Individual sets are used, they may be placed for each cover or between every two covers. The cream and sugar bowl may be put on the table; the latter is always filled with lump sugar if to be used for a hot beverage. If coffee is to be served only with, or after, the dessert course, the cups and saucers and creamer and sugar bowl are brought on with the course they are to accompany. — Madera Daily Tribune, 1934


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

Etiquette and Chivalry Breached

It’s such a shame that cads often arrive in nice packaging. – 
Is their chivalry toward woman a loose garment for occasional wear?”

Masculine "Chivalry?" Hardly!

Three cases of social decorum have recently been recorded in the news columns, which, because of their similar nature and their similarity in offensiveness, merit attention together: 
  • At Bayside, a clubman passing the night at a friend's house sought to enter the room of a young girl. The household was awakened by the girl's cries and the intruder expelled from the premises and disgraced so far as the publicity of his expulsion can disgrace him. 
  • At Cape May a number of young men, "at least one of them belonging to a prominent Philadelphia family," invaded the home of George G. Browning in his absence, and insulted his wife and daughters. 
  • At Bar Harbor a lieutenant in the United States Navy, making a call on a young widow, conducted himself in such a manner that his behavior is now the subject of a Court of Inquiry. 
In each of these breaches of decorum the offender, it will be observed, was a man of social standing. What is the explanation of the laxity of morals shown? Is the summer time at the seashore a period of license, or does it happen that some of our "gentlemen" are so only in the outward veneer of good manners? Is their chivalry toward woman a loose garment for occasional wear? These three offenses of almost simultaneous occurrence are very painful to record.—New York Evening World, 1903


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

Edwardian Etiquette of First Calls

In many houses, between 4 and 5 o'clock in the afternoon, a cup of tea is always offered to visitors. The maid either brings in a tray containing a small teapot, a silver pitcher of hot water— in case the tea is too strong— a small pitcher of milk or cream, or a little dish of sliced lemon and plate of cakes, or tiny three-cornered bread-and-butter sandwiches; or, if there is a tea table in the corner of the room, the lady herself makes the tea for her guests; but the former method is now deemed the smarter. Except occasionally, on a reception or at home day, it is no longer considered good form to have a tea table in the drawing room. 

Who Makes the First Call?

When people settle in a small city or town, or in the country. It is courteous for the residents of the place to make the first call: upon the newcomers, which must, of course, be promptly returned. Even if some of these acquaintances, are not desired, really well-bred people always return first calls within a few weeks, allowing, if they so choose, all subsequent calls to be unreturned by them. And so the acquaintance can generally lapse without the cut direct and the bitter feeling that would undoubtedly be caused by the failure to return the first visit of a neighbor. 

In lax cities, the population is so dense that for obvious reasons people do not call upon their neighbors unless they have obtained introductions and have been invited to do so. In New York or Chicago, one's circle of friends is scattered all over town, and the residents of the same block, though they may live side by side for years, generally remain entire strangers to each other. In England, however, and even in diplomatic circles in Washington, the reverse is the custom, and the stranger calls first on the residents of the place without waiting for friends and acquaintances to make the first visits, as is the usual American custom. 

I once knew two charming women, one a Canadian and the other an American, who were at loggerheads for no other reason than that neither one would be the first to break this law of etiquette of her respective country. They had met perviously at a watering place and were mutually attracted to one another when the next summer, the American went to stay at a hotel in the home city of the Canadian. Now, each knew perfectly well the whereabouts of the other and longed to continue the acquaintance, but the American would not call first on Lady M___ because, as she said, it was Lady M___'s place to call first upon her. That was American etiquette, and Lady M___ knew it. And Lady M__ on her side, would make no move.

Mrs. R___ should, she declared, make the first visit. English etiquette demanded it, and Mrs. R___ was not ignorant; she had visited in Canada, and had even been to England; and she knew all about it. And so matters remained for one entire summer; neither would give in because each was firmly convinced that the very letter and not the spirit of the law of etiquette of her respective country was the only thing worthy of her consideration. It is not necessary to say that such a state of things is supremely ridiculous. A little less stubbornness and more common sense would have convinced the American that the really well-bred woman invariably follows, so far as she can consistently do so, the customs of the country in which she chances to be.– Eleanor B. Clapp, 1905


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

Monday, October 23, 2017

Table Etiquette Customs Explained

Table etiquette is not, as is often alleged, merely a matter of fashion, although some things that were in vogue a generation or two ago, are no longer deemed polite.The reason is that manners and table furniture have undergone so many changes, have really so much improved, as to require a mutual adjustment. 

While certain forms of table etiquette may seem altogether conventional, even fantastic, the forms usually observed are founded on good sense, and adapted to general convenience. Table etiquette is not, as is often alleged, merely a matter of fashion, although some things that were in vogue a generation or two ago, are no longer deemed polite. The reason is that manners and table furniture have undergone so many changes, have really so much improved, as to require a mutual adjustment. 

For example, everybody was accustomed, twenty or thirty years since, to use the knife to carry food to the mouth, because the fork of the day was not adapted to the purpose. Since the introduction of the four-tined silver fork, it has so entirely supplanted the knife, that the usage of the latter, in that way, is not only superfluous, but is regarded as a vulgarism. Another example is the discontinuance of the custom of turning tea or coffee from the cup into the saucer. Although small plates were frequently employed to set the cup in, they were not at all in general use; and even when they were used, the tea or coffee was likely to be spilled upon the cloth. The habit, likewise, of putting one’s knife into the butter arose from the fact that the butter-knife proper had not been thought of. Such customs as these, once necessitated by circumstances, are now obviously inappropriate. 

Certain habits, however, are regulated with good taste and delicacy of feeling, and the failure to adopt them argues a lack of fine perception or social insight. One of these is eating or drinking audibly. No sensitive person can hear any one taking his soup, coffee or other liquid, without positive annoyance. Yet those who would be very unwilling to consider themselves ill bred are constantly guilty of such breaches of politeness. The defect is that they are not so sensitive as those with whom they come in contact. They would not be disturbed by the offence; they never imagine, therefore, that any one else can be. It is for them that rules of etiquette are particularly designed. Were their instinct correct, they would not need the rule, which, from the absence of instinct, appears to them irrational, and purely arbitrary. To rest one’s elbow on the table is more than a transgression of courtesy, it is an absolute inconvenience to one’s neighbors. 

All awkwardness of position, such as sitting too far back from, or leaning over the table, are reckoned as rudeness, because they put others ill at ease through fear of such accidents as are liable to happen from any uncouthness. This and kindred matters are trifles; but social life is so largely composed of trifles, that to disregard them wholly is a serious affront. We can hardly realize to what extent our satisfaction of dissatisfaction is made up of things in themselves insignificant, until their observance or nonobservance is brought directly home to us. —Scribner’s Monthly, 1875


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

Etiquette and Origins of Toasting

Many and various were the quaint customs associated with the toasts of those days. For example, in certain companies of military officers etiquette demanded that the cup should be passed from hand to hand.

How Toasts Originated

The custom of drinking the health of the most popular man at the table has its foundation in the ancient practice originated by the Greeks and adopted by the Romans of drinking to the gods and the dead, observes an exchange. 

The Greeks and Romans later began the practice of drinking to each other, and from this arose the custom of toasting living men. But health drinking in its modern form, originating in England in the roistering days of Charles II, begins with the custom of drinking to the ladies or to any woman who happened to be the reigning belle of the Court. 

Many and various were the quaint customs associated with the toasts of those days. For example, in certain companies of military officers etiquette demanded that the cup should be passed from hand to hand. In many midnight gatherings of Alsatia, gallants stabbed themselves in order to drink with their blood the health of the woman on whom their hearts were set. —Kansas City Journal, 1918


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

Old Greenland Wedding Etiquette

Modern day women of all ages, in Greenland’s traditional colorful attire.

Marriage by Force

The courtship and marriage customs among the Greenlanders were in early times, simple and unceremonious. When a lovelorn youth made up his mind as to the girl he wanted to adorn and be useful in his hut of ice or snow, he went to her house and dragged her forcibly to his own domain, where she was expected to stay without any further marriage ceremony. If an affluent bridegroom, he would perhaps soothe her lacerated feelings by presenting her with a new lamp or some other article of household utility. 

No matter how willing and even eager the bride was to marry a young man, Eskimo etiquette demanded that she should resist every attempt to drag her to her new home, and she must weep and wail bitterly once she was there. Indeed, she must continue to weep and wail for some days, run to her own home, only to be dragged back again. It is said that this extremely simple marriage ceremony is the only one still in use on the east coast of Greenland, and the laws governing divorce are as informal as the laws of marriage. – Los Angeles Herald, 1919


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

Presidential Etiquette Privilege

Rank has its privilege, and for past Presidents, it offered even more –– “The President may walk where he pleases in the streets of Washington, meeting with no further notice than the tipping of the hat, unless of his own motion be stops to speak with someone.” 

The President In Public

It is a point of etiquette, universally observed at the national capital, never to obtrude attentions upon the President when he appears in public. On the street or in any place of amusement in Washington, the President has the undisputed privilege of appearing as any private citizen, he is never stared at unless it is by strangers, and his appearance in a theater is not greeted with any sort of demonstration. The President may walk where he pleases in the streets of Washington, meeting with no further notice than the tipping of the hat, unless of his own motion be stops to speak with someone. 


Office seekers and petitioners never venture to approach him on the street. His surest riddance of the importunities of the throng is to go out among them. Sir Julian Pauncefote, speaking of the American customs that had impressed him, remarked that, while a foreigner's first impression might be that the seeming indifference of the public toward the President when he appeared on the street or at the theater was the result of an exaggerated idea of democracy, it must become apparent on closer observation that it was the highest possible tribute of respect and consideration. —San Francisco Argonaut, 1899


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

Royal Etiquette Weirdness

Very odd customs of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra– Every man and woman who has been invited down to Norfolk on a visit to their Majesties, gets weighed by either the King or Prince of Wales before leaving. 

One of the queerest customs in vogue at Sandringham, the favorite country house of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra
Yet another oddity connected with Sandringham house is that of the festivities attending the departure of guests. Every man and woman who has been invited down to Norfolk on a visit to their Majesties, gets weighed by either the King or Prince of Wales before leaving. This is the parting function on the morning of departure. 
Each guest's weight and a description of his or her dress is set down in a book kept for that especial purpose. No one knows the origin of this queer custom, but the King began practicing it years ago as the Prince of Wales and keeps it up as King. – Los Angeles Herald,1903


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

An Etiquette Argument for Bowing

Reminded of the well-defined etiquette bearing on the subject, women are likely to add: “ I know that very well; but no woman wants to take the initiative. Men should do that; it’s their business; it doesn't belong to us. No one expects us to make ourselves so bold...”

Who Should Bow First ? —Who has not heard ladies express mild surprise because some man who had been presented to them had not bowed to them on the street, at the theater, or in the drawing room? If you ask them, “Did you recognize him?” they will be apt to reply, “ Oh, no; of course not. He should have spoken first.” Being reminded of the well-defined etiquette bearing on the subject, they are likely to add: “ I know that very well; but no woman wants to take the initiative. Men should do that; it’s their business; it doesn't belong to us. No one expects us to make ourselves so bold.” The truth is, the majority of women are naturally accustomed to men paying court to them; to his making the first advance in everything; that they can’t find it in their sexual sensitiveness, in their conventional selves, to obey a mandate they originally issued, and still insist on perpetuating. 

Not one woman in ten thousand has any fault to find with the rule; in fact, we have never known a woman to object to it. Nevertheless, she seldom follows it in her own case. Sometimes a woman says, as a sort of self justification, “Supposing I should speak to a man, on meeting him after an introduction, and he should not remember me. How awkward I should appear; how overwhelmed I should be with shame to observe that he did not recognize me. I can’t afford to place myself in a position to seem to be cut by any man.” If any number of women feel thus, the point of etiquette should be changed in order to save their sensibilities. In truth, however, the objection is not well made. 

There is not the smallest danger that any man, presuming him, of necessity, to be a gentleman, at least in respect to his observing the ordinary forms of courtesy, would refuse or hesitate to return the acknowledgement of a woman, even though he might not have the remotest recollection of ever having seen her before, or though he were convinced she had confounded him with somebody else. And the fact that he had been recognized by a woman would be the strongest presumptive evidence that he had been presented to her. Men are not likely either to forget their feminine acquaintances, or to mistake Mrs. Thompson for Mrs. Robinson, or Misa Blank for Miss Dash. – Sonoma Democrat, 1876


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

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Edwardian Beach Etiquette


“The city fathers wish to discourage the theory that Long Beach can be turned over to all breaches of decorum, and they make it a punishable misdemeanor for bathers to appear in bathing costume within certain limits of the city, practically confining bathers to the beaches.” – Collegiate Break Fun at Long Beach, 1905


 Tourists Breaching Beach City Decorum 
The City Council has wrought some more changes calculated to transform the appearance of Long Beach. It bears strongly upon etiquette and that which made necessary the passage of the ordinances leaves room for reflection on the social training of some of the city’s guests. “Thou Shalt not parade up and down the streets of this seaside metropolis in bathing suits.” is the latest decree and an expanded force of police officers declares that it will carry out to the letter the meaning of the ordinance. The city fathers wish to discourage the theory that Long Beach can be turned over to all breaches of decorum, and they make it a punishable misdemeanor for bathers to appear in bathing costume within certain limits of the city, practically confining bathers to the beaches. 

It has been the custom during the years gone by, when Long Beach belonged to the surf instead of the surf to Long Beach, for bathers to invade the streets of the place en masse. A ban is put on fish poles also by the new ordinance. It is declared unlawful for fishermen to walk through the streets with their fish poles, unless they carry sectional poles, which have been disjointed, with the Joints banded together, with lines free of treacherous hooks. In the same breath the fathers warn dogs to stay off the streets and impose orders on police officers to prescribe limits for all canines, which do not include the pleasure pier, the pavilion or any of the most thickly settled streets.– Los Angeles Herald, 1902


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



The Etiquette of Sorrow

If we are not intoning with mere lip-service our ‘blessed are the dead who die in the Lord,’ why this ostentation of crape, of bowed windows and darkened chambers? Either we do not really believe that our friends are happy, that we shall see them again, or we are hypocrites with this outward paraphernalia, this etiquette of sorrow. “Why should we darken our houses? The sunshine is sent to purify, to resurrect; its mission is to stricken lives as well as to frost-bound fields. 

Customs of Mourning for the Dead

A writer in a late number of the Christian Union has some very sensible remarks on the subject of modern funeral observances, as in singular contrast with the spirit and claims of a religious faith which looks beyond this world into the next, and recognizes the fact of a blessed immortality, and instances the case of David, who, after his seven days of abandonment to the most extravagant grief for the loss of his child, arose and “washed and anointed himself, and changed his apparel and did eat.” Our funeral observances, and the set fashion of mourning, are, says this writer, “in as direct contrast with the manly resignation of the Hebrew King as they are in glaring contradiction to the professions we make of faith in the present happiness and continued existence of those dear ones taken from our sight. 

If we really believe that it is well with the child for whom the mother's arms are aching and empty, if we are not intoning with mere lip-service our ‘blessed are the dead who die in the Lord,’ why this ostentation of crape, of bowed windows and darkened chambers? Why do we shun the sunlight and avert our faces from all gladness, and hold ourselves disloyal to the dead if a smile or laugh steals upon us unawares? Either we do not really believe that our friends are happy, that we shall see them again, or we are hypocrites with this outward paraphernalia, this etiquette of sorrow. “Why should we darken our houses? The sunshine is sent to purify, to resurrect; its mission is to stricken lives as well as to frost-bound fields. 

In the heavy hours, weighed down with the unnecessary gloom and circumstance of the customary funeral rites, surely we have need of all that can cheer, and warm, and inspire us. Worn out with watching, it may be, depressed with the care, the suffering, with all that has gone before, the mourning household is the one of all others that should throw open its casements, should gladden itself with flowers and the comfort that twitters through the chirp of even the city sparrows. “Some people seem to think they show tenderest memory of the dead by allowing despondency to develop into ill-health; they cultivate illness and weakness as a fine art of sorrowful remembrance. Robust health that waits on good appetite and accustomed exercise, that is springy of step and full of energy, is a reproach to them; it savors of disrespect. Could we but see that the truest and tenderest way of honoring our dear ones is to live our honest lives right on in the usual way, adding, if possible, to our work that which their tired hands lay down! 

“We pay dearly for the etiquette which would keep us sitting in darkness when a midden impulse comes to hear some music, see a bright picture, or visit a friend in whose voice and eyes we find both. ‘But the impulse does not come to true mourners.’ Ah, the heart beats humanly enough beneath the heaviest veil. Decorum teaches us to repress each impulse to the light, ‘if it come too soon.’ Shallow, indeed, is the loneliness and loss that oan map out the months into districts of dress and behavior, and let in the sunshine and the world hand in hand by a computed time table and registry of days.” – Pacific Rural Press, 1875



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



Saturday, October 21, 2017

Samoan Etiquette

All that is necessary to satisfy the dictates of Samoan etiquette is for the principal guest of the occasion to drink the kava, the rest being at liberty to partake of it or not, as they choose.

A Remarkable Exhibition of Hospitality to Visitors on the Part of Samoans

One of the queerest customs of the gentle Samoans was the cause of a great deal of embarrassment to a party of San Franciscans a short time ago while the tourists were sojourning in the sunny land made famous by the pen of Robert Louis Stevenson. When a person of more than ordinary importance is entertained by a Samoan chief it is the invariable custom to periorm the sacred ceremony of chewing the kava and offering the liquid to the guest of honor. When the party is seated in the chief's abode three or four of the prettiest girls in the village are called into the room and seated tailor-fashion in a half-circle facing the one who is being entertained. All being ready, the chief hands each of the girls a quantity of kava nut, a product of the island much resembling the betel nut, and they fall to chewing them with all the energy of strong jaws and perfect teeth. This operation is repeated again and again, until a sufficient quantity of the kava has been accumulated. Then water is brought in and the juice diluted until it suits the fancy of the chief.

Only unmarried women are permitted to chew the kava nut, the Samoan belief being that unless masticated by virgins the nut loses its best properties. At last the brew — if such it may be called — is ready, and the chief takes up a quantity in a cocoanut-shell cup and hands it to the guest of the occasion. Woe betide him if he refuses it, for this is the most serious breach of etiquette that can happen in a Samoan household, and should the cup not be drained to the last drop the taboo is put upon him from that moment. The guest must drink with as much decorum as the chief employs in passing the cup. The effect of kava is as queer as the method of preparing it. The first drink produces no effect beyond, perhaps, a natural nausea, but the second and third are more potent. The liquid is imbibed sitting tailor-fashion on a mat, and after the third cup, the guest, unless of unusual strength, finds it impossible to rise. The brain is as clear as though the liquid had been pure water, but, from the waist down, the body seems to be paralyzed, and the guest must of necessity sit and wait for the effects to wear away unless helped to some other posture.

The girls who chew the nut are not in any way inconvenienced by it, because they do not swallow the juice, and they often appear to enjoy the predicament of those who try vainly to rise from their lowly seats. All that is necessary to satisfy the dictates of Samoan etiquette is for the principal guest of the occasion to drink the kava, the rest being at liberty to partake of it or not, as they choose. The liquid tastes and looks like nutmeg water, though a flavor of soap is often detected by those who partake of it for the tirst time. – San Francisco Call, 1897


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



Etiquette for Houses of Worship

“Are you a parent? Have you ever dressed up your little children and sent them forth alone to visit, when they were about ten or twelve years of age? Then you have known the anxieties of a mother or father as to their social behavior.”

Behavior During Worship
The Rev. Frank Dewitt Talmage Discourses Upon Manners

Rev. Frank Dewitt Talmage delivered a sermon yesterday upon “Church Manners,” taking his text from I Timothy 3:15, “That thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God.” His discourse was a good-natured rebuke to the lack of decorum among worshipers and a plea for certain reasonable etiquette in the church. He said in part:

“Are you a parent? Have you ever dressed up your little children and sent them forth alone to visit, when they were about ten or twelve years of age? Then you have known the anxieties of a mother or father as to their social behavior.

“Before they go, you say: ‘Now, son, be careful about your manners. When you enter Mrs. So and So’s home, take off your hat and place it upon the hall rack. Be careful and don't handle the vases in the parlor, and don't squirm on your chair. When you are at dinner, be sure and keep your hands off the table, and don’t spill the food upon the table cloth, and don’t ask for a second helping of anything, or talk with your mouth full. When Mrs. So and So passes you a plate, say, ‘Thank you.’ Remember, my boy, that your mother’s home is to be judged by your table manners.

“When that child leaves the house, your mind follows him and stays with him all day long. And oh, the pride that sweeps into the parental heart when, next day, you meet your friend, at whose home your little children dined, and she congratulates you in these words: ‘We had such a lovely children's party yesterday. And Mrs. So and So, I want to tell you how well your children behaved. Your boy was a perfect little gentleman, and your daughter a little lady.’ Ah, such congratulation as that is as a sweet savor to the maternal heart.

“If refined social manners are essential in the home, they are equally important in the house of God. So essential are they to a consecrated Christian life that Paul wrote a long Epistle to his young lieutenant, Timothy, concerning them. In this letter, wherein are found the words of the text, the great apostle tells how bishops and their wives should act, and also how deacons and deacons’ wives.

“But I today, instead of my showing how our ministers and church officers should behave in the house of God, I would preach a sermon on church manners directly to the pew. I would try to inculcate the reverential spirit with which our congregations should assemble for worship.

“I would try to teach this reverence, because more and more in this irreverent age there is a tendency to look upon church buildings as places fitted for secular enjoyments rather than as sanctuaries consecrated to the presence of Jesus Christ.

“The Lord loveth the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob. No man ought to place foot in God's sanctuary unless he can do it with the solemn feeling of Habakkuk, who declared: ‘The Lord Is in his holy temple, let all the earth keep silence before him.’” – Los Angeles Herald,1905


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