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Author Topic:   Wedding gift for 1870s bride?
Polly

Posts: 1910
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 06-18-2009 09:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Imagine you're a wealthy New Yorker buying a wedding gift in the early 1870s. The groom is the heir to a fortune, a member of an important NYC society family; the bride is the daughter of a country lawyer. What would you give the young couple?

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doc

Posts: 705
Registered: Jul 2003

iconnumber posted 06-19-2009 01:36 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for doc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
What an intriguing question-one that I assume has an answer that will be revealed to all in good time! I personally would give a stuffing spoon-practical yet fun and substantial enough to be noticed.

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bascall

Posts: 1626
Registered: Nov 99

iconnumber posted 06-19-2009 02:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for bascall     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A photo album with a silver repousse front piece would be my choice.

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Polly

Posts: 1910
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 06-19-2009 02:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Oh, there isn't an answer yet! I asked because I'm hoping you silver fiends will have good suggestions.

There is an explanation, though: I write novels for teenagers, and my next one is about the bride in question.

Clearly she needs a tea set from one of the great makers. Tiffany? Gorham?

What are the most attractive early 1870s patterns? If only it were the 1880s I would give her tons of Narragansett...

She's a sweet country girl, but her husband has somewhat more sophisticated taste--and rich friends & relatives.

Where will you buy her her stuffing spoon? Will you have it engraved?

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wev
Moderator

Posts: 4084
Registered: Apr 99

iconnumber posted 06-19-2009 03:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for wev     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Am I to sit on the groom's side or the bride's? That would make a deal of difference.

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dragonflywink

Posts: 971
Registered: Dec 2002

iconnumber posted 06-19-2009 03:35 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dragonflywink     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hmmm, suppose it would depend upon the degree of wealth and my relationship to the couple.....

~Cheryl

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Polly

Posts: 1910
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 06-19-2009 03:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
You're all on the groom's side. The bride's only relatives are an elderly uncle (I don't think he's giving her silver) and her mother and stepfather, a missionary, who have gone off to the wilds of I'm not sure where yet--Asia? Africa? Somewhere too far away to attend the wedding, anyway. And they don't have much money. She has a few school friends.

The groom, on the other hand, is a popular man with many wealthy friends & relations.

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wev
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Posts: 4084
Registered: Apr 99

iconnumber posted 06-19-2009 05:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for wev     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hmmmm -- I'm feeling rather more Edith Wharton about all this:

An old family teapot of less-than-best quality with the old monogram polished out and a new one, in elaborate black-letter, put in

or

a heavy, richly chased Tiffany frame with a picture of his mother

(it's been that sort of day)

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wev
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iconnumber posted 06-19-2009 07:53 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for wev     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
My last having fallen flat, perhaps a pair of goblets, chased with putti and suitable floral garlands, one engrave Our Love and the other Eternal?

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wev
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Posts: 4084
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iconnumber posted 06-19-2009 07:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for wev     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Will you have it engraved?

"What's good for the Goose is good for the Gander"?

Sorry, couldn't resist.

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Richard Kurtzman
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Posts: 758
Registered: Aug 2000

iconnumber posted 06-20-2009 12:17 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Richard Kurtzman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Polly, During this period, either Tiffany and Gorham would most likely be the maker of choice.
Beyond that possibly an elaborate tea and coffee service or a table service ie. punch bowl or centerpiece with candelabra.
Style: Probably figural or ornate High Victorian. If you wanted something a bit more restrained you could go Classical or Renaissance Revival.
I hope this helps.

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Dale

Posts: 2132
Registered: Nov 2002

iconnumber posted 06-20-2009 01:15 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dale     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Something from their list at the jewelry store bridal registry.

If I wanted to make a splash, and had enough time, I would commision a silver fronted book in which wedding guests could write best wishes. Then lock the book up, give it to the happy pair and send the key on their first anniversary.

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bascall

Posts: 1626
Registered: Nov 99

iconnumber posted 06-20-2009 07:45 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for bascall     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here's some 1860's rational from the Atlantic Monthly on what a wedding gift should be that might be interesting : The Atlantic monthly
By Making of America Project

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Polly

Posts: 1910
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 06-20-2009 11:10 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Excellent suggestions, everybody! Wev's repurposed third-best silver is great. From a cranky relative who disapproves of the bride, no doubt.

I recently read this in a novel by Mrs. Southworth (Why Did He Wed Her, 1884): "You see, little kitten, I didn't like the bride or bridegroom. Yet 'custom' compelled me to send a gift; self respect obliged me to make it an expensive one; malice instigated me to make it one that, however costly, should be neither useful nor ornamental, nor in any way delightful to the newly married pair. --Goodness gracious me alive! What did you give them, Mrs. Walling? --A complete set of the Grecian and of the Roman classics in the original, bound in dull brown vellum, with dull brown edged leaves. And neither of the pair can read a word of Greek or Latin. Fancy their feelings! Yet, you see, no one can criticize the gift."

I also love Dale's locked book full of warm wishes to be read a year later. That will be especially poignant for my bride. My groom is going to die immediately after the wedding as the story begins, leaving the bride weeping in a house full of gifts. (Her new sister-in-law will take her off on the planned honeymoon, a grand tour of Europe, "for their health," but really to get her away from the house full of memories and all the concerned strangers.)

Does anyone know when wedding registries began? Would they have been in good taste in the 1870s?

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swarter
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Posts: 2920
Registered: May 2003

iconnumber posted 06-20-2009 11:30 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for swarter     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
You would need to know what the groom already has before deciding on something that would duplicate. I would think a basic set of personalized flatware would be a necessary starting point, before any more elaborate serving pieces are considered.

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agphile

Posts: 798
Registered: Apr 2008

iconnumber posted 06-20-2009 01:55 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for agphile     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
On the wedding registry point, I can't speak for the USA but in England this is a fairly recent innovation if I am correct in interpreting it as a list of desired gifts. I don't recall any such lists when my generation was getting married in the late 50s/60s and I do recall being a bit sniffy when I first came across them some years later though I now appreciate that they make good sense.

In my day what used to happen was discreet enquiries of the bride's parents if one wanted to get it right, but it was a stock joke that the happy couple would receive countless duplicates and be left with gaps: 10 toast racks and no teapot.

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Polly

Posts: 1910
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 06-20-2009 02:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The young lady in the delightful story Bascall posted jokes about getting dozens of butter knives or teapots.

It's a very useful story, as well as charming. I wonder who wrote it? It's unsigned, as far as I can tell.

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bascall

Posts: 1626
Registered: Nov 99

iconnumber posted 06-20-2009 06:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for bascall     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The wedding registry if I'm not mistaken is also the term that applies to the church official's list of ceremonies performed, so of course we're referring to the wedding gift registry. Just thought this might be worth a mention.

[This message has been edited by bascall (edited 06-20-2009).]

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doc

Posts: 705
Registered: Jul 2003

iconnumber posted 06-20-2009 08:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for doc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
What fun this topic is! My vote would be a teaset in Tiffany's Saratoga pattern, perhaps in a nod by your character to the fact that he/she won the purchase price of the set at last season's races. Or perhaps because our bride and groom met during the racing season (a logical place for a farm girl and a wealthy New Yorker to cross paths!!). Sorry, got carried away in writing your novel!!!

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Dale

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iconnumber posted 06-21-2009 01:09 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dale     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Wedding or Bridal Registries began in 1924 at Marshall Fields. The company had gotten fed up with returns of duplicate items, so they asked the couples to fill out a list of items desired. Fields would then check off each item as it was purchased. Target made this electronic in 1994. Not as old as I had thought, but 85 years is a long time.

If the bereaved bride is living in a fully furnished home, why does she need gifts?

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Polly

Posts: 1910
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 06-21-2009 11:42 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks--I thought the wedding GIFT registry must be a 20th century invention.

Dale, she's not living in a fully furnished home, she's living (in the brief time after the wedding and before the honeymoon) in a partly furnished home full of wedding gifts. Before his sudden death, her husband was planning to do some shopping abroad, on their honeymoon.

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Polly

Posts: 1910
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 06-21-2009 11:46 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Doc, I'll definitely give them some Saratoga in your honor! Perhaps from a physician who loves racing.

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Ulysses Dietz
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Posts: 1265
Registered: May 99

iconnumber posted 11-08-2009 09:07 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ulysses Dietz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Loved the passage from the novel--was it really 1860s? You can see how silver had become a major wedding gift, and not to everyone's satisfaction. However, the issue of taste is brought up, and thus if you want to think silver (that's who we are) Saratoga would be OK, but the latest pattern from Tiffany was Japanese, first developed in 1871. A dessert service (six forks, six spoons, six fruit knives) in Japanese would be useful and tasteful and thoroughly modern.

In the high-society weddings of the later Gilded Age, gift-giving was a competition. Because the groom is the wealthy one, and the bride is from a modest, country background, then it would not have been untoward to give her a set of gold and tortoiseshell combs (to keep her hair up--although that's fairly intimate). Silver hair combs were much in vogue in the early 1870s. I imagine that boxed sets of silver serving items had begun to be the vogue--all in nice silk plush cases lined with satin. But remember that neo-grec stuff was still very hot--Gorham produced many of its best neo-grec patterns in the early 1870s. A nice fruit stand, a pair of compotes (or comports); a pair of lidded vegetable dishes with cast animal finials--all could have been from Gorhams early 1870s line.

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jersey

Posts: 1203
Registered: Feb 2005

iconnumber posted 11-09-2009 01:55 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for jersey     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Many years ago I had gone to my second & last auction looking for an advertised piece that it turned out to have been pulled. I did decide to stay & wound up with a "box Lot" of junk. The only reason I bid on it was because there was an wedding album in the lot & I thought it would be a nice gift for my cousins upcoming wedding (she likes old things). As it turned out the album was from 1902 & completely filled in. They were a VERY wealthy family from New Rochelle NY. All the gifts were silver pieces, much of it flatware, & it seems heirlooms as opposed to new from Great Aunt this & Grandmother that
Mother, Father etc. The list contained over 500 gift givers.
The best & worst part of this story is that near the end of the auction a set of silver,(not identified by maker), service for 12 with serving pieces was up for bid. No one bid on it however because at that time I guess no one wanted to polish the "stuff" & even at scrap value which would have come to $400 it was expensive for this local crowd. I was interested but my DH noticed a Q initialed on them..that was a no no!

After I had a chance to read through the Album at home & went through her list of gifts I realized it was given by "Mom & Dad" & it was made by Tiffany! At that point I wanted to cry, & I still do from time to time when I think about it!

P.S. My cousin never got the album!

Jersey

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Polly

Posts: 1910
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 11-09-2009 06:54 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thank you for that detailed answer, Ulysses. The Mrs. Southworth novel I quoted was from 1884; Bascall's passage from the Atlantic Monthly short story was from 1861. I'm not sure which you were referring to.

Jersey, your story is very sad and reminds me of the time I found a baby book in a used bookstore bargain bin, complete with first footprint, first word, lock of hair from first haircut, etc etc. I bought it (48 cents), tracked down the (former) baby in question and gave him the book. He seemed completely mystified by my concern. I guess he didn't value it very much at that point in his life, his mid-20s. It had wound up at the used bookstore by mistake after his parents got divorced.

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