Tuesday, February 19, 2019

19th C. Escritoire Etiquette

“Dinner cards and menus seem to have attained the height of artistic perfection.”– A 19th Century menu card –“There are fashions in stationary, as in everything else these days, and the fashions change with the popularity of clock work. That the changes are religiously observed by the swagger woman, goes without saying.” – A “swagger woman” was one who carried herself in an arrogant, haughty, or self-important manner.


Newest Fads in My Lady's Stationery – Including the Most Popular Tints!
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If All the Modes Are Strictly Followed, it Takes a Pretty Penny to Pay the Stationer’s Bill 

NEW YORK —There are fashions in stationary, as in everything else these days, and the fashions change with the popularity of clock work. That the changes are religiously observed by the swagger woman, goes without saying. Cream, white heavy linen paper, fitted in square envelopes, octavo size is “de rigeur” for all formal correspondence; however, many tints of paper are also chosen. Robins’ egg blue and silver gray are very popular, while lavender, cafe au lait and pinks have their votaries. A smaller size than the octavo, in similar color and quality, serves for note paper. 

All formal invitations for weddings and receptions, dinner and menu cards, should be engraved upon fine white paper of exquisite satiny texture. The ornamentation, marking and decoration of the stationery serves several very distinct set forms. The address, simply engraved across the top of the sheet, the monogram in the centre, not the top, or the crest or coat of arms above, or in combination with the address, being set above it with the facsimile used occasionally, describes the prevailing modes used in marking paper. The variety, style and coloring of these different dies, form a luncrative branch of the stationer’s art and at once attests the skill and refinement which he should put into his work. Silver and gold, light green, dark olive and bronze carry the day in markings, however.


The etiquette and provision of stationery is generally turned over for attention to the ladies of the household, while the masculine mind is absorbed in matters of graver import. Dinner cards and menus seem to have attained the height of artistic perfection. For ladies of flowery taste there are cupids, bits of pink and white dimpled loveliness, poised above the card amidst fruits and flowers. The name is written below in silver or gilt; then there are butterflies, asparkle in gold and flecked in gorgeous color. These bid fair to flutter into the festivities of the winter, for all the modish importations in gowns, millinery confections and bric-a-brac reveal the gayly developed moth. – Los Angeles Herald, 1896


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

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