The Missouri Peer-Importing Company: 1903

COMMERCIAL ENTERPRISE IN U.S.A.

[“The following Resolution has been passed by the Senate of the State of Missouri. Resolved—That the Committee of Criminal Jurisprudence be instructed to take into consideration the necessity and importance of the passage of a law providing for the taxation, branding, and licensing of foreign lords and noblemen, both real and genuine, bogus and fraudulent, found running at large in the State of Missouri, and proving severe penalties for the violation of the said law, to the end that the young women of Missouri may be protected and fully warned against engaging in speculation of so risky and dangerous a character.” –New York World.]

In the following handbill, left at the door of a fair correspondent in Missouri, we seem to trace the culminating cause of the above scare:

THE MISSOURI PEER-IMPORTING COMPANY.

This Company was formed to meet the ever-increasing demand for lords and noblemen in the State of Missouri and U.S.A. generally.

Absolutely no risk run by our customers!

Ladies dealing with us are assured of fair treatment and prompt delivery.

Without fear of contradiction we affirm that our Peers are superior in rank and pedigree and in position in their own countries, to any noblemen now on the market.

Every lord supplied to our customers is branded with the State Stamp, and no goods that are not up to the Government standard are retailed at our stores.

Our stock of British Dukes is the finest in the world, and at the Missouri Exhibition we were awarded the Gold Medal for this rare and beautiful type of goods.

A choice selection of belted Earls is always on view in our showrooms.

We highly recommend our “B.B.B.” or British Baron Brand. These may be had in three styles—English, Irish, or Scotch. We do a large business in these goods with people who like a good article but cannot afford the more costly brands. As, however, the supply is limited, customers are advised to purchase early.

We have a very cheap line in French Counts, which we are offering at prices to suit the smallest purse. Such of these goods as we sell bear the Government imprint, though personally we do not care to recommend them, having had frequent complaint regarding their quality.

We beg leave to observe that the lowest-priced Peers—such for instance as Polish Counts—we do not stock, as in very few cases have they been found satisfactory. We venture to urge upon our clients the advisability of paying a somewhat higher price and ensuring quality.

Peers delivered to any address in U.S.A. free of duty and carriage paid.

The following are samples of the testimonials which we are receiving daily:

The Marchioness of Fitz-Portcullis (nee Miss Polly Porker) writers; “Your Marquis is simply lovely—and so intelligent. Please send two more, as I want them for birthday presents for my sisters. Am going to England shortly.

“Yours sincerely,

Polly Fitz-Portcullis.”

A Countess (who desires to be anonymous) writes: “Earl recently received and gives every satisfaction. Have shown him to friend who bought Russian Prince last year, and she says she wished she had heard of your Firm then, for she certainly would have tried one of your Earls.

“P.S.—Please send me French Count suitable for presentation to elderly maiden aunt. Was delighted with Irish Baron.”

Punch 8 April 1903: p. 240-241

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a noble, but impoverished Peer,  must be in want of a wife in possession of a good fortune. The daughters of Colorado mining magnates, Chicago pork packers, and New York rail millionaires, often known as “Dollar Princesses,” were sent to elite finishing schools, were presented at Court, and made lavish debuts during the London Season, all in the quest for a Title. Like Consuelo Vanderbilt, the young ladies longed for love and the glamour and the gold of the aristocratic life, but many found only a false glitter.

To Mrs Daffodil’s unsophisticated mind, it all rather savours of the parade of young persons for the patrons’ delectation in the parlour at Madame Zoe’s discreet establishment in Curzon Street. One gathers that, in many cases, the interest of the titled gentlemen in their amply-dowered brides did not last much longer than such encounters.

 

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.

 

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