Great Historic Places to See:
150 Years of Place Settings in the United States
from 1955 to 2005
Created by Maura J Graber and Eda Bierman
These historically accurate place settings from 1855 to 2005, along with their accompanying stories and menus, were created by Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia Site Editor, Maura J Graber, and theme event designer, Eda Bierman. The nine “Great Historic Places to See” were created for, and shown at, the 2006 “Designs for Dining” fundraiser, held yearly in Palos Verdes Estates.
1910's setting (above) was a favorite. At a presentation given that afternoon for the event and viewing, the settings were explained in full, including the flatware, dishes and glassware for them. Here are a few examples below:
- In this setting above, one can see a fish knife and matching fish fork. In the Victorian and Edwardian eras, “fish sets” like these were considered utensils for parvenus or the newly rich, who clearly had not yet developed good taste or good table manners. Fish sets were seen as a frivolous novelty. Those with ancient pedigrees, or “old money,” ate their fish with a fork in each hand. But in Britain and Europe, old money was slowly being propped up by new money coming in from the United States and Americans had fallen in love with all of the new utensils invented during the Victorian era. Americans, by and large, had no such issue with their fish or flatware.
- The “green swirl” Depression glass plate in the 1925 place setting, is a bit early (at least 4 years early for the Great Depression), however, colorful glassware had been popular for some time by 1925, so we took artistic license in our choice.
- The 1955 place setting was for a Bridge Luncheon and the cigarettes, matches and ashtray all reflect the fact that in the mid-20th century, smoking was not only condoned, but enabled at the dining table. Etiquette required that each properly set place setting, or cover, provided a minimum of 3 cigarettes, a lighter or matches and an ashtray.
- Photos shown here were taken at various times throughout the day. Though we tried to keep them from doing so, some attendees picked up a few of the cards to get a closer look, or moved pieces of the flatware after checking to see who the maker was, and for that reason not all of the setting's pieces are exactly where they should be in the photos.
That's Eda Bierman on the left and Etiquipedia Etiquette Encyclopedia Site Editor, Maura J. Graber, peeking over her shoulder, as attendees view the settings and read the menus and story cards.