Saturday, June 25, 2022

More Criticism of McAllister’s Manners

Nathan Lane as Ward McAllister and Carrie Coon as the fictional Berth Russell in HBO’s “The Gilded Age”

Another small portion of a dismal review of 

Ward McAllister’s book, 

“Society as I Have Found It”

The Paris dressmaker Worth receives an extensive advertisement throughout the pages of “Society As I Have Found It.” The author’s “distinguished” friends– an adjective which he applies indiscriminately to all of his friends, but which is quite superfluous, since we are perfectly aware from his own admissions that he would avoid the acquaintance of anyone who was not distinguished– are invariably described as having been arrayed in magnificent Worth gowns at the entertainments recorded in his book. The impression which he thus endeavors to convey, that the ladies in the foremost ranks of New York society get their dresses from Worth, is likely to create a considerable impression among his feminine readers in the Western and Southern States, and to prove of much pecuniary value to the once famous faiseur in question. 

For there has been a very marked decrease in the latter’s formerly important transatlantic clientele since the American élégante have at length began to realize that his Vogue disappeared with the fall of the Empire, and to discover that his European customers are almost entirely restricted to the wives of Levantine bankers and to the princesses of the stage and of the demi-monde. No leader of fashion in either London, Vienna or St. Petersburg, nor indeed any Parisian élégante, would ever dream of confining the construction and design of her toilette to the somewhat heavy hands of the Gallicized Yorkshire man in the Rue de la Paix, whose questionable and inartistic taste betrays his north-country origin, and who invariably strives to conceal the vulgarity of his coupe by overloading his creations with parvenu magnificence.

Mr. McAllister's readers, especially those who hope to derive from its pages social experience and a knowledge of etiquette, would likewise do well to avoid following too closely “the forms of invitations used by Mr. McAllister.” It is possibly owing to his connection with trade that he has adopted the commercial method of abbreviating words, such as, for instance, “yrs.” for “yours.” Abbreviations infer that the writer does not regard the person whom he is addressing as worthy of the trouble involved by writing out the word in full, and are therefore discourteous.

More over, it is hardly good form to refer in a letter to a “polite” invitation, while the expression “pray present me most kindly to Mrs. I and believe me yours, etc.,” must surely be an Americanism pure and simple, and the use of which is restricted to Mr. McAllister's “swell” friends. For it is certainly never used in Mayfair or Pall Mall. All these lapses, not only of language, but also of ordinary breeding and education, appear trivial, however, when we come to the appalling confusion of pronouns, which he introduces in his attempts to show his readers how to write a note in the third person.

In conclusion, permit me to express the earnest hope that young America will not regard as a model of European fashions, nor Europe consider as an example of American fashion, this feeble imitation of the Calais– not the London– Beau Brummel, whose manners, breeding, education and form are like his Huguenot legs– “very, very groggy.” –
 By an Ex-Diplomatist in the New York Tribune, 1890 

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

Friday, June 24, 2022

Service Etiquette Using a Maid

The maid announces to the hostess that dinner is served at a prearranged time or twenty minutes after the last guest has arrived. The hostess seats guests in the customary manner of alternation, unless one sex outnumbers the other, and then the hostess uses her discretion.

When a Resident Maid or Hired Help Serves Cocktails and Dinner

1. Usually six to eight guests are invited.

2. The time for cocktails and dinner is settled. Invitations are written or telephoned.

3. The menu is written out for the maid to check the procedure. A resident maid will know where things are and your way of doing things. Hired help will need everything put out in readiness and a more careful check of procedure. Remember to allow plenty of room around the table for service. Usually a three-course dinner is offered. Canapés and dips that do not need constant attention are suggested.

4. Cocktails in any may be mixed and served at a bar accommodation in the living room or other suitable place. The maid serves the canapés.

5. Before the guests enter the dining room, the water glasses should be filled, butter put on the butter plates, and candles lighted. Sherry should be poured if it is to be served with the first course.

6. The maid announces to the hostess that dinner is served at a prearranged time or twenty minutes after the last guest has arrived. The hostess seats guests in the customary manner of alternation, unless one sex outnumbers the other, and then the hostess uses her discretion.

7. To simplify service, the first course may be already on the table, whether it is a cold fruit cup or a hot soup in covered dishes.

8. All serving of the food is done on the left side of the guest. Water and wine are served on the right. – Patricia Easterbrook Robert’s, 1960

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

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Ping-Pong Diplomacy in 1971

American table tennis player, Glen Cowan (bottom left), who caught the ride on the Chinese team’s bus, along with the other U.S. table tennis players in China – on the cover of Time magazine, in April 1971

Ping-Pong Diplomacy

When an American competitor at the 1971 World Table Tennis Championships in Nagoya, Japan, missed his team bus back to the hotel, he set off one of the biggest tectonic shifts of diplomacy in world history — and triggered the end of the Cold War.

Jumping on to the Chinese team’s bus instead to catch a ride, one of the Chinese athletes broke strict protocol by handing him a gift of a silk cloth depicting the famous Huangshan Mountains.

When the bus arrived back at the hotel, journalists were astonished to see the two players chatting. Their photographs of this rare meeting of nations dominated news headlines around the world and Mao Zedong, spotting an opportunity, invited the U.S. team to spend a week sightseeing in China.

Capitalising on this new-found good will, President Nixon instigated a visit to Beijing — so began the defusing of the Cold War, and the term Ping-Pong Diplomacy was coined.– Christian Howgill for the Mail Online, June 17, 2022

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

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Gents’ Tie Knots for Different Occasions

Numerous tutorials for tying a neck tie can be found online, Styles abound for the knots. Above is a selection.  
– Image source, Pinterest

Knowing which tie knot goes with which occasion is a skill that every sartorial enthusiast eventually masters. The ability to choose an appropriate tie knot for your particular setting is a skill that will allow you to elevate your style game. 

You’ve finally bought that luxurious piece of neckwear that you’ve been contemplating for a while. Go you! The purchase has been made, and you know you’ll look damn good in it. However, you soon realize that another dilemma looms. 

Just how are you going to knot your new treasure? With a range of standard knots and an ever increasing array of novelty knots, how exactly do you showcase your modern day cravat so that you present your best foot forward? Let’s examine tie knots for different occasions:

Before we delve into what occasions should elicit different knots, we should be aware of what knots go best with different collars. Four-in-hand knots go best with pointed collars, Half Windsor knots go well with medium spread collars and Full Windsor knots go best with spread collars. With that being firmly established, here are the different tie knots.

The four-in-hand knot is the easiest knot to tie and is non-symmetrical. The relatively informal nature of the knot indicates that it should be worn for dressy but not overly formal occasions, such as a party or a social gathering. 

The half windsor knot is another men’s knot staple that is symmetrical and more formal. Due to its versatility (and requiring less tie fabric to be tied than a full windsor), it has grown to be a popular choice among well dressed men. The half windsor knot is more formal than the four-in-hand and is therefore best suited for more formal events such as a job interview or a business meeting. 

The Full Windsor Knot is the most formal and goes well with longer (more fabric is required to tie the tie) and wider ties. The shape of the full windsor is the same as that of the half windsor – except that it is a larger knot. As a result of this, it is best suited for more formal occasions and with spread collared shirts. 

A Full Windsor Knot is best suited to more formal events, such as a wedding or an important business meeting.

From The Dark Knot, Posted by Rishi Chullani on January 14, 2015 - “To view the Dark Knot's range of exquisite silk ties that tie the perfect knot, especially for half windsor and full windsor knots, please click here. Each of our ties are made with a double interlining layer of wool and cotton, resulting in a rich thick knot that every discerning gentleman loves. Can't decide? You don't have to

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

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Luring a Lord in the Gilded Age

“The original hotel had modern conveniences such as a hydraulic elevator, central steam heat and gas lights. In addition, the property had a billiards room, music room, barber shop, Turkish Bath and children’s playroom. The hotel had 75 large guestrooms, some with balconies, and no two rooms were alike. The hotel welcomed many travelers from around the world and in fact was nicknamed ‘Little London’ because of the many English tourists who came to visit. The city attracted health-savvy individuals seeking the high altitude dry climate, nearby Pikes Peak and the amazing natural rock formations known as Garden of the Gods.” —

The Duke’s Progress: The English Lord’s American Journey

Gallons of ice water. Great gusts of suffocating steam heat. The heiress-hunting Englishman was always being buffeted by extremes in America. Take, for instance, the hotels: so wonderfully luxurious, yet so deeply uncomfortable. The elaborate meals were poorly served, and wine was not a matter of course with dinner. The elegant bedrooms were heated to the point of boiling, the enormous, shiny bathrooms overrun with complex, unmanageable systems of faucets. There were bells, buttons and switches everywhere— but no one to look after His Lordship personally, to meet his own little idiosyncratic needs. And topping it all was the demeaning practice of signing the guest book, where any plebeian might thereafter finger his noble name.

No less confounding were the young American ladies. Never before had the English Lord found himself in such unrestricted contact with unmarried females, hurrying here and there, from one social or sporting activity to the next, with no evidence of adult supervision. It was not the least bit necessary for the Englishman to exercise any rituals of courtship formalities until the very last moment. Although he might perpetually expect the red-faced, indignant parent to appear on the horizon of his lovemaking, none ever materialized. The indignity was, in fact, all his own and from another quarter: he soon discovered that he was only one among many, that the girl in question had a veritable horde of equally favored “admirers.”

The question of the girls aside, the English Lord found that civilized America bored him. True, the famous American openness was preferable to the stilted formalities back home— no one was kept standing in the States, and everyone was free to speak his or her mind. But this very freedom produced a certain blandness. Only occasionally could one enjoy an excited discussion of corruption in government, and there was almost no gossip— no little scandalous stories, no intrigues to titillate and amuse. Of much greater interest was primitive America. “Though one can dine in New York,” wrote Oscar Wilde, “one could not dwell there. Better the far West with its grizzly bears and its untamed cowboys.” (Indeed, the West was so full of aristocratic Englishmen that the famous Antlers Hotel in Colorado Springs had be come known as “little London.”) Thus the wife-hunting English Lord, after a patient review of American heiress strongholds along the Atlantic coast (where he might or might not attend to the business at hand), would head happily west to points wild and unknown. — From “To Marry an English Lord,” 1989

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

Monday, June 20, 2022

Gilded Age Grocery Shopping

Gilded Age dining room with table set, Potter Palmer mansion, Chicago, ca. 1895-1902… Art Institute of Chicago

On Foods of the Gilded Age …

Fried Artichokes… It's 1896: Let's Go Shopping

The year Fannie Farmer published her cookbook, 1896, was a shopper's paradise. One could walk through the doors of S. S. Pierce, the preeminent grocer of the day, and purchase Formosa oolong, Penang cloves, authentic Parmesan from Italy, a bottle of Château Lafite or Château Margaux (they would set you back $20 to $30 per case, roughly $1,000 to $1,500 in today's dollars), six types of preserved cherries, green turtle soup, Jamaican ginger, California peaches, hothouse cucumbers, potted ham, medicated toilet paper, Aunt Jemima pancake mix, Havana cigars, cherry blossom toothpaste, truffles, jarred French peas, and Tangle foot sticky fly paper.

But this bounty, all neatly displayed and offered for immediate home delivery, was a far cry from Boston's beginnings— a time before Faneuil Hall and Quincy Markets, before the railroads brought oranges from Florida and canned fruit from California, before ships were unloading mushrooms from Paris and olive oil from Italy. The most venerable method of purchasing foodstuffs was through vendors-butchers, fishmongers, and farmers who went door to door. This old English custom endured well into the eighteenth century…

Shopping was not done just by professional cooks or the middle-class housewife with list in hand. By the 1890s, some upper-class women were also going about doing their own shopping, as described in a November 17, 1895, article in the Boston Globe. These “ladies of leisure” would go to market in carriages driven by liveried coachmen, keeping their shopping lists in “leather and gold notebooks.” (Other well-to-do women came by public transportation or walked, of course.)

The experience of shopping for Thanksgiving in 1896 was recorded by one intrepid Boston Globe reporter, who wrote about the tremendous last minute rush for turkeys with “sounds worthy [of] the realms of Beelzebub” as bargain-hunting shoppers descended on Quincy Market to secure the main event in the biggest meal of the year. The streets were lit with both torches and electric lights and the birds formed fences and walls along the lines of the curbstones, hung from their feet by ten-penny nails pounded into improvised wooden scaffolding. As the evening progressed, the prices fell from 20 cents a pound at 8:00 P.M. down to 15 to 17 cents by 9:00 P.M., which was closing time for the market itself. 

Outside, the vendors kept up their “seductive oratory” until almost midnight. By 11:00 P.M., turkey had dropped to 10 cents per pound and a vendor with just one chicken in in ventory hawked it at a mere 5 cents per pound, saying, “Here you go now, ladies and gents. This is the last bird I possess in the world. He's yours for 12 cents, and if you don't find him the tenderest chicken in Boston, I'll give him to you for nothing.” — From Richard Kimball in “Fannie’s Last Supper,” 2010

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

Sunday, June 19, 2022

Formal Dinner Service with Help

The size of the guest list is usually established by the size of the staff-six guests to each person serving.

A well-balanced meal, planned so that it keeps as hot (or as cold) as it was meant to be, that is served correctly and with ease to appreciative company in an attractive setting, is the obvious aim of every hostess. The experienced housewife already knows the answers and how far she is prepared to go to achieve her ideals, but to those just setting up housekeeping, the following check list suggests what can be expected from the kind of space and help you have or can hire for a sit-down dinner party.

Trained Help in Large Households 

1. The size of the guest list is usually established by the size of the staff — 
six guests to each person serving.

2. The time for dinner, and the time for guests to arrive for cocktails, is settled. Invitations are written or telephoned, with a reminder sent later in the mail to busy people and new friends who need to have your address, phone number, and directions.

3. The menu is discussed and written out for the cook or chef. Formal dinners today usually do not exceed four courses, preceded by cocktails with canapés or hors d'oeuvres.

4. Cocktails may be made to order in the pantry (or kitchen) and served on a tray. It should be possible to serve hot hors d'oeuvres if you have a trained staff; otherwise, canapés and dip dishes are quite sufficient.

5. Before guests enter the dining room, water glasses should be filled, butter, if needed, placed on the butter plates, and candles lighted.

6. The servant should catch the eye of the hostess and announce when dinner is served. For a small group, the hostess seats the guests; otherwise, seating is indicated by place cards. The female guest of honor sits on the host's right, other honored guests on his left and on either side of the hostess, women alternating with men.

7. After the guests are seated, the first course is brought in on an accompanying plate and placed on the service plate before them. The service plate is never, at any time there after, left empty; as one course is removed, another takes its place.

8. All serving of food is done on the guest's left side, and water and wine on the right. Service begins with the guest on the host's right and proceeds around the table counter clockwise. If two people are serving, they should begin at the right and left of the host and proceed down the table, then serving the host and hostess, who immediately picks up the outside piece of flatware (on right of setting) as a signal for the guests to begin eating.

9. The first course is removed with the left hand, and the warm fish course plate is substituted with the right hand. The fish course is served with white wine.

10. The second course is removed with the service plate while a warm plate is substituted with the right hand. The hot entrée is served from garnished platters — often with accompanying potatoes. Other vegetables follow in partitioned dishes. The sauces and red wine are served. At a formal dinner nothing is offered a second time except water and wine replenishments. Individual servings of salad should be placed to the left of the guests if the menu requires them.

11. Remove the main course. Remove salt, pepper, unused flatware, and empty wine glasses to a small tray (leaving the water glass and the glass for dessert wine). Fill the water glasses (never touch the glass and use a napkin in case of drips).

12. Bring in the dessert plate, doily, and finger bowl (and the flatware also if it is not already on the table). The guest puts the doily and finger bowl to the left of the setting and puts his flatware in place on the table. Dessert accompanied by sweet wine or champagne is served.

13. The hostess makes the first move to leave by putting her unfolded napkin at the left of her setting.

14. A servant brings the coffee equipment into the living room for the hostess to pour. The servant passes the coffee to the guests. Liqueurs and glasses are brought in on a tray and served as requested.

During dinner, a servant removes any debris left after the cocktail party and tidies the living room. If the dinner party is larger than twelve and a full complement of staff is not available, the removal of each course begins when the majority has finished. But no guest should be made to feel hurried.— Patricia Easterbrook Roberts, 1960

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

Saturday, June 18, 2022

Ice Cream Soda Etiquette

The perfect utensil for simultaneously eating and drinking ice cream sodas or ice cream “floats.”— Antique‘Stroons”  or combination “Straw Spoons” in sterling silver, with heart shaped bowls shown on the right, next to a patent for a similar straw and spoon from 1901 on the left. The proper etiquette is to eat the “solid food”or ice cream, first. Then drink the remaining liquid and melted ice cream in your glass. 
— Images from “Reaching for the Right Fork… the etiquette and evolution of tabletop utensils”

An Unsolved Problem

To the Editor of The New York Times:

In my letter printed in ‘The Times’ of Aug. 27 regarding the matter of drinking or eating ice cream soda, I simply mentioned the matter of soup in an incidental way.

It has amused me to see that all the replies relate to soup. There is no ground for argument on this point. We all know that it is a rule of etiquette to say we eat soup.

The problem remains, however, whether to eat or drink ice cream soda. The authorities on etiquette have not as yet taken up this point, and it is time that they did. True, the matter is not vitally important, but just the same it should not remain unsettled.

What I want to know is when I lead a friend to the soda fountain, can I make him drink or has it got to be eat an ice cream soda? —Thomas A. Wilson, New York, Sept. 1, 1933, The New York Times

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