Monday, June 23, 2008

Monday Diversions

Since it's Monday and appropriately cloudy with rain in the forecast, I thought I'd take a break from meeting minutes and correspondence and turn my attention to something a little more entertaining--invitations. The Chamber of Commerce held a lavish banquet each year, presumably to congratulate themselves on another year gone and to honor various distinguished guests and members. According to a NYCC publication, for each banquet between the Civil War and World War I,

"an eminent Banquet Committee devoted painstaking attention to an appropriate design for the Program, which was then hand-engraved and colored by Tiffany & Co. Messengers delivered all invitations to the homes of members and their guests."

The NYCC collection holds some samples of these invitations and programs, which I've been organizing this morning. Here is the invitation for the banquet of 1889, held at Delmonico's (a New York restaurant which is still in operation):

Here's a closeup of the Tiffany & Co. signature in the lower right hand corner:

Impressive, no? It's especially interesting to contrast the 1889 invitation with this invitation from 1950:

Hmm. As an archivist, I think I'm supposed to maintain an objective view, and there's that whole thing about not judging a book by its cover, but if I had to chose one or the other to attend, I'm pretty sure I would transport myself back in time to 1889. These guys seem like they would probably agree with me:

That image is from the 1913 banquet at the Waldorf-Astoria where guests were treated to a six course dinner. We don't have the menu for that dinner, but I think it's safe to say that it was probably rather luxurious.



Tiffany said...

I have to agree with you. I am hoping that back in 1889, they had the good sense to take their wives with them though. There are no women in the picture from 1913! Beautiful invitation from Tiffany's.

NYCC Project Archivist said...

That's a good point, it is weird that their wives didn't attend the banquet . . . maybe this has something to do with a clearer distinction between public and private life?