Art in Setting a Table
1910? 1935? ????
|Why It's Interesting|
This striking image is the cover of The R. Wallace Book: Table Settings and Social Conventions for Every Occasion, written by Winnifred S. Fales for R. Wallace & Sons, makers of 1835 Wallace: heavy sterling and plate. The cover is signed but I cannot make out the name. The golden type is heavy embossing. If this cover is not worthy of being considered the equivalent of a poster or print, then I confess that I am wasting my time collecting and calling attention to ephemera. Worldcat lists 2 editions of this book: 1910 and 1935, each reported by one library. I can not say based on my limited knowledge of the kinds of etiquette spelled out here which edition this is. (It could, of course, be yet another, unreported by libraries.)
The book illustrates and discusses table settings for a dozen kinds of meals and occasions and supplies detailed instructions on the etiquette of weddings.
This volume is now on loan to a major art museum.
This website seeks to encourage researchers and collectors to discover and study obscure ephemera that document American culture and life. Worldcat reveals that most of the items that I post cannot be found in more than a few research libraries–often none at all. Alternately, research libraries do not bother to catalog ephemeral publications like these. I believe, however, that because these were distributed free, or at nominal cost, to consumers, they were the publications most likely to make their way into homes and be read by large numbers of Americans.
I acquire pre-1960 examples of the kinds of publications that prove so useful when scholars study 19th-Century America. The limited competition that I encounter for them suggests that libraries, which could easily outbid me, have little interest in post-Civil War and 20th-century ephemeral publications in general.
I try to anticipate what materials future historians will find useful. Being an historian first and a collector second, I organized this website to encourage others to do this too—even if this means new competition for me. I am aware that I could be wrong in prizing particular ephemera or even whole classes of ephemera. I may even be wrong to encourage scholars to study obscure ephemeral publications; these may be obscure for good reason.
Ephemerastudies.org will permit me to share with others the information and imagery that I am acquiring, and to benefit from the knowledge, intelligence and experience of other scholars and collectors. Please contact me with your impressions of the site.