April 6, 2009

Let's Set The Table

Still no camera, but thanks for all your thoughts! Since I have it with me most of the time, it's like I am missing an appendage.
Yesterday, I briefly stopped at the Book Thing and picked up a book that looked particularly interesting. It's called Let's Set the Table, by Elizabeth Lounsbery, with a introduction by Emily Post. When I was researching this post, I found that the book is still listed as a reference book for International Butlers, not under the butling category, but the table- and event-managing section.

Even though the book was printed in 1938, much of the information still seems relevant, although some of the table-settings are dated. Before Mrs. Lounsbery begins to talk about setting the table, she discusses linen, china, glass and silver. Then she segues into flowers and decoration, which is where the book looks dated.

She also suggests themes for luncheons and dinner parties, including a "poverty party". This is suggested as an amusing luncheon for young girls, just before they head back to boarding school. She suggests a red and white check tablecloth, geraniums planted in tomato cans, tin plates and jelly glasses, and salt and pepper in their original boxes. To complete the setting, guests should wear worn-out clothes. Since this was a scant 10 years after the Depression, it's a bit strange that she suggests this. Of course, she's also written a book called Entertaining Without a Maid.
Mrs. Lounsbery was apparently a champion table-setter, winning prizes for originality, correctness and assembly. I found a couple of adverts from Gimbels from the early 1940's where she was exhibiting tables for different occasions, with the tabletop materials supplied by the store.
It's such fun to see what changes and what stays the same.

15 comments:

  1. I have books like this. I used to photocopy this one, in particular, on antiqued ecru paper for wedding gifts, where she goes off about hiring maids, and other things the rest of us haven't seen or heard of in generations. That poverty party for children is creepy, but given the time, I am sure acceptable, or she wouldn't have gotten it published.

    As for the china you've displayed. I knew from trying to sell off some of my mother's things that "no one buys that stuff anymore." What I recently discovered, searching eBay for something, is there is a new term calling those teacups, "Grandma teacups." Yeah. I know. Ouch.

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  2. Entertaining well never goes out of style! What a fun find.

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  3. I believe that some of us occasionally like to get out the china, silver, crystal, & fine linens, entertaining in style( I do very little anymore) It can be very exciting & people do enjoy it!

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  4. *They say we start off "trying to build up". THEN, as we get older, we start to "pare down". WELLL, I "pared down" and lasted almost 4 years~~~~~~ I find NOW, tho, that I'm MISSING some of those "finer things", and rapidly replacing them at warp speed. Only I'm ENJOYING them MORE, THIS time around, because they're truly for me (and anyone else who WISHES to enjoy them!). They're being TRULY USED now, & I am honestly appreciating them & their beauty! Of course, my husband doesn't really "care" about all that, but he seems very accepting that I'M ENJOYING it all~~~ and, it's NICE!!! This short read was fun & delightful~ I THANK YOU! Linda *

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  5. Love this - you are SO lucky! I know I've said it a million times before. But what a wonderful shop that is.

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  6. 'Poverty party' and 'Entertaining Without a Maid'? Sounds like my house!

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  7. I love collecting old entertaining and etiquette books -- looks like you've found a fun one. I'll have to be on the lookout for this one as well as Entertaining Without a Maid...I think I could rewrite that one.

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  8. Old books on entertaining give us such an interesting look into the past. Thanks for sharing your find.

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  9. This book has been on my wishlist for sometime, so I'm glad you found a copy! A Poverty Party might be apropos right now!

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  10. Fun post. Thanks for sharing.

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  11. Only a woman who thinks of a "poverty party" as a fun diversion for privileged schoolgirls could write "Entertaining Without a Maid". That title cracks me up. Thanks for the giggle Meg!

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  12. Reading "Entertaining Without a Maid" made me laugh out loud. Love it!
    Great find -

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  13. I love the little bit of green in the water glass. I just bought 2 small air plants that have the same delicate-bushy look.

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  14. "Entertaining Without a Maid" ! Brilliant! What will the International Butlers think?

    I bet it's a fun read.

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  15. This must be a wonderful book, but I'm off to find Entertaining Without a Maid on ebay!

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