How She Exchanged a Wedding Gift: 1896

fancy tray 1850sw


That Things Are Not Always What They Seem Evidenced in This Case.

The season of weddings taxes the ingenuity, no less than the purses, of fashionable devotees. The deceptions to which many of the so-called upper crust resort to discharge social obligations are almost incredible to old fogies not in the swim. It has long been the accepted custom of brides who receive many duplicate presents to exchange the same at the stores where they were purchased. When the articles have not been marked or defaced in any manner merchants, as a rule, are very willing to make satisfactory exchanges.

A volume might be written on the revelations that this custom has often brought about. It has been the unguessed cause of more than one social sensation. Less than a year ago a fashionable bride of Gotham received a gorgeously showy gift in repoussé silver from an old school girl friend, daughter of a multi-millionaire. The present was displayed in a beautiful box bearing the stamp of a famous house, and attracted unusual attention from the guests.

Several months after the wedding the bride, in an unlucky moment, took this apparently gorgeous gift, together with others, to exchange for articles for which she had more immediate need. When the selections she made were delivered at her residence she was surprised to find the repoussé silver.

A note from the firm stated that the silver had not been purchased at their store. It was plated goods. They added, however, that they had detected the trade mark of a firm in the Bowery. If madam desired they would furnish the address. A visit to the Bowery jeweler confirmed this assertion and the indignant bride bided her time.

In a short time the giver of the spurious silver was wedded. The most striking gift she received was a familiar box, in which reposed the unlucky piece of repoussé silver. It bore no name; it was not exhibited. No comment was ever made by either party. To all outward appearance the social intimacy is unruffled.

Eau Claire [WI] Leader 6 June 1896: p. 7

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Mrs Daffodil was curious about where the young lady got a box from that “famous house.”  Possibly it came about in this manner. Mrs Daffodil fancies that it would not have been difficult to persuade a clerk to part with such a box for a consideration:

It is, of course, a well recognized practice in most of the big silver shops in this city to allow brides to exchange unmarked wedding presents that they don’t want for things that they do,” said a man employed in one of these places to a New York Sun man; “but a new wrinkle was worked on me not long ago. A bride came here with a cab load of our boxes which had held wedding presents and asked us to exchange them for silver ware. She said that she kept all of her silver in a safe constructed for it, and that the boxes were useless to her. These boxes were worth all the way from 50 cents up to $5 and $6, and we took them back at a reduced price and made the exchange. Such gifts as spoons and forks are frequently duplicated, and we are perfectly willing to take them back, if they are not marked, and give something else in exchange. The Jewelers’ Circular and Horological Review, Volume 38, 1899: p. 7

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.


1 thought on “How She Exchanged a Wedding Gift: 1896

  1. Pingback: What to Do with Duplicate Wedding Gifts: 1895-1899 | Mrs Daffodil Digresses

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