Category Archives: Edwardian

The Sensible Christmas Gift: 1910

wrapped christmas gifts with holly

The Sensible Christmas Gift

Sophie Kerr Underwood

The question that has always puzzled me when I have heard people ardently discussing the subject of the sensible Christmas present is this: What is, really, a sensible Christmas present? One good soul will tell you that it is anything which is truly useful, such as a dozen tea-towels, a box of soap, a dust-cap, a cook-book, a gingham apron, a patent can-opener. But somehow, I can not happily put the Christmas giver so summarily into the Martha class.

Then there are good folk with floppy flowers in their hats and floppy sentiments in their heads who say rhapsodically that one should give only the beautiful, the aesthetic, to be truly sensible. “Give the poor factory girl a lovely rose,” they cry. “Give your cook an exquisite French print to wean her mind away from the sordidness of her work; give the little lad who sells your paper a beautifully bound book; give only beauty—beauty.”

Of course, that’s all very well, but I don’t want to give my cook an exquisite French print because she’d be furious and leave, and I would much rather have helpful hints as to what to give my best friends, Alice and Mary, and my cousins and my aunts, than suggestions for the boy who sells papers and the factory girls. I know very few newsboys and factory girls, not because I am snobbish, but because I have never had the chance to meet them. Some one else tells me “Give what you yourself want,” but that’s a poor rule. For instance, I would love to have a French edition of Beranger, and an armful of the poems and plays and stories of the modern Irish writers, but what would it avail if I give these to Aunt Julia, who reads nothing but lives of the saints? And can I give to Louise, who wears only mannish stocks—because they are most becoming to her—the frilly jabots which I dote upon, but which make her look dowdy? Nay, nay, I must seek fresh advice.

It seems as though there must be some people somewhere, who know how to choose Christmas gifts sensibly. Yet each year I hear post-holiday wails about the quantity of useless trash, mere dust-catchers, which has been exchanged under the guise of loving Christmas greetings, and to the great fatigue of the postman. I have seen my own mother, gentle soul that she is, look with undisguised wrath on a cushion-cover reeking with raw color and garnished with screaming cord and tassels, and wonder how in the world any one could dare to buy the thing, much less tie it up in a holly box and send it to her with “Merry Christmas” written on the donor’s card. And I have heard a-plenty of things like this: “Of course, I shall never use it, it’s quite impossible, but I can give it away next year.” And “That makes nine pincushions this year. I, who live in a hall room in a boarding house, have so much need of pincushions.” And “I am perfectly certain that is the centrepiece Mrs. Smith gave Mrs. Jones last year—and now Mrs. Jones sends it to me.” And, “That’s a perfectly beautiful veil-case, of course, but I never wear veils and she knows it.” And so on, and so on, and so on—you could each of you furnish a posy of such sayings, I am sure.

Perforce I must turn to my own gifts. Here is the most prized one that I ever received. It is a square of perforated cardboard with a flower neatly sewed into it with bright yellow worsted. It was made at kindergarten by my own little nephew, my godchild, and he brought it home and announced to his mother that it was for me. It certainly isn’t beautiful and it certainly isn’t useful, but I don’t care, it is a sensible gift, and I’ll maintain it so against all the law and the prophets. Don’t you understand, those little chubby hands toiled patiently at it, working the tedious thread back and forth until the thing was done, and was, in his eyes, a very beautiful and wonderful piece of handiwork. And then—why, he wanted to give it to me, and so it is the gift of a dear, loving little child, and wholly priceless.

And her is a gift which is not sensible. It is a very handsome bowl of Benares brass and it was sent to me by Emily, who visited me last summer and was not a pleasant guest. She required a great deal of attention and entertainment and she told me that she made better mayonnaise than I did and that I looked my age. Both of which statements I know to be utterly untrue. Well, I think, if she didn’t want to be nice when she was staying with me, I would much rather not have an expensive gift from her. I don’t think it expresses honestly her feeling for me. I would much rather have a pleasant memory of Emily’s visit and a little Christmas card than to think of her unpleasantly and be perpetually reminded of her by this truly lovely gift. I shall take no pleasure from the bowl. I insist that it wasn’t sensible of her to give it.

Another Instance: Two Christmases ago I received a big box of candy from a very nice man. Now I never eat candy for it makes me very sick, but I knew that he didn’t know it. And I could see exactly the workings of his perfectly masculine mind. He said to himself, “I’d like to give her something. Let’s see, flowers, books, candy. I can’t send her flowers, for she’ll be away down in the country and they’d be ruined when they get there. There’s no use getting books for her, for she’s so fussy about books and I’d never be sure that she really liked them. But candy—every woman likes candy—I’ll send her a lot of it.” And so Christmas morning when I looked at a most lovely box of sweets and at the pencilled card that came with it, I liked them both very much, and I think it was a perfectly sensible present.

Now as I go on, it is beginning to be borne in on me that a sensible present is a present you want to give and one which you honestly think will be appreciated. The oh-anything-will-do-for-her present is not sensible. Better a two-cent card that you really want to send than a golden platter and a feeling that you had to give something handsome.

When I see the groups of scrambling women battling about the bargain-counters at Christmas-time, I always feel that there lies a good part of the general dissatisfaction with Christmas giving. Going home on the cars, I heard, “well, I’ve got all my relatives’ presents purchased, thank heaven, and to-morrow, I start in on Jim’s. I think grandma will like that scarf, don’t you, even if she never does wear anything but black? Of course, it’s pink, but it’s a lovely pink, and it was only ninety cents marked down from a dollar and a half, and I was so tired looking around I thought I might as well get it and have that off my mind.”

“Well, poor grandma,” thinks I!

“But you aren’t being helpful at all,” somebody complains. “It’s all very well to talk about other people and not being able to choose sensible gifts, but I notice you haven’t made a single suggestion that will help a tired and bewildered Christmas shopper with a list as long as her arm.

All right—listen. Here’s the way I look at the sensible present. First off, cards for everybody you just want to say Merry Christmas to, and buy them early because you have so much better chance to get pretty ones; silk stockings and really fine handkerchiefs for girls, for no girl ever had enough of either; books that you absolutely know he wants, for a man; money for servants, but put it in a pretty envelope and ask each member of your family for a list of the things he or she wants and stick to that list; and nothing, no, not so much as a Christmas post-card, to any one unless it is sent with hearty good-will.

Please remember, except for this last clause, I do to set up to be authority on the subject of sensible presents. I am seeking light on the subject earnestly and humbly. I have merely made this plan for myself because I am too busy a woman to fashion gifts with my own fingers, and my time is so closely occupied that I cannot afford to waste it in aimless shopping through over-full shops. And when I say that I wrap up and address—and sometimes put the stamps on—each gift as soon as I buy it and everything is always ready at last three days before Christmas, you’ll probably think I haven’t much holiday sentiment. But I can’t help that. I’ve had to work out my plan at Christmas giving to suit my own time and strength and this is what I would urge every woman who values her peace of mind to do.

The Sensible Christmas gift must be sensibly selected and sensibly given. It isn’t a gift of policy or obligation, but of affection. It taxeth not unduly the purse, the time or the eyesight of the giver, nor the taste and patience of the recipient. It may be beautiful or useful, both or neither. It brings its welcome with it. It is not laid away and passed on to someone else next year. It says “Merry Christmas” to you sincerely, because it can truly make your Christmas merry with kind thought and loving memories. Oh, dear, all this sounds so nice! Why doesn’t some good fairy give us a magic wand so that, as we choose our gifts, we might be sure to understand which are the truly sensible and which are the utterly foolish and vain.

Woman’s Home Companion, Vol. 37, 1910: p. 65

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  Mrs Daffodil heartily seconds the notion of considering carefully which presents are truly sensible or utterly foolish and vain. If any of Mrs Daffodil’s mistresses had so much as considered an exquisite French print as an acceptable gift, she would have given immediate notice or poisoned her bouillon.  Such aesthetic-minded women have no business employing servants and should be reported to the authorities for abuse.

Previous posts have dwelt on the evils of fancy-work , Reginald on Christmas presents, and the special kind of hell that is the holiday bazaar.

Mrs Daffodil has added “magic wand” to her gift list. Most useful.

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.

 

The Nation that Shops: 1906

 

Christmas Holiday Shopping Begins

THE NATION THAT SHOPS

By Mrs. John Van Vorst

Some distinguished Englishman, after visiting the United States, remarked that Americans “would be a great people if they didn’t shop so much.”

Shopping is, it must be admitted, the national American occupation.

The city of New York, built on a long and very narrow island, suggests the tube of a thermometer, and the population can well be likened to mercury: they fluctuate in a mass, now up, now down, moved by the impelling atmosphere of the shopping centres. Apart from the business men, who, on their way to and from their offices, crowd the subways and elevated roads in the morning and evening hours, there is a compact body composed chiefly of women and girls in the surface cars at given moments of the day. Towards 9 a.m. they are transported to the shopping district centred about Broadway and Fifth and Sixth Avenues, between Eighth and Fifty-ninth Streets. They shop assiduously until hunger calls them, reluctant, homeward; but, having lunched, they return for a further fray, which lasts until five or six o’clock in the afternoon.

Pouring into town from another direction, are the suburbanites, whose exile from the island-city compels them to take a ferry in order to reach the field of chosen activities. With tender consideration, the needs of these “out-of-town shoppers” have been met by the stores, which provide cheap lunch-rooms or restaurants situated in the upper regions of the lofty store buildings. Given such facility for eating, away from home, the serious bargain hunter can continue throughout the day, uninterrupted, her work.

Where do they all come from, you ask? Who are they, these women with nothing to do but shop?

America, it should always be remembered in judging it, came into existence definitely at about the same time with the so-called “labour-saving” machine. There is no country in the world, doubtless, where in all classes womanly pursuits have been so wholly abandoned, and the “ready-made” so generally substituted for the “home-made” in the household organism. A single instance is striking enough to give some idea, at least, of what the American woman doesn’t do.

Wishing to buy a gold thimble when in New York not long ago, I went to the most fashionable jeweller’s, and was somewhat surprised when the clerk drew from the depths of a drawer a tray with three thimbles on it.

“Are these all you have?” I asked.

He answered rather peremptorily: “We can make you a gold thimble to order. We don’t carry any assortment. There’s no sale for them nowadays.”

So here, to begin with, is one category of shopper: the woman who never sews, but who buys ready-made her own and her children’s clothes and underclothes. She chooses the cheapest confections, gets what wear she can out of them, and discards them when they begin to give way, arguing that it “doesn’t pay” to mend. This convenient logic, together with a very conscientious scanning of the advertised bargain lists, leads her to consider shopping in the light of an economy, a domestic necessity, and herself as a diligent housewife.

“But when she has children,” you very justly exclaim, “what does she do with them?”

If they are too young to go to school, she brings them with her into the overheated, dusty rooms of the crowded stores. When they are babies in arms, she trundles them in the perambulator to the threshold of the inward whirlpool, and there, in the company of other scions, she abandons them temporarily. At a popular shop I have seen a side vestibule crowded with little carriages. Now and then, as the wail of some one infant rose, heart-rending, above the others, an anxious and busy mother, having recognised from within the call of her young, rushed out, readjusted conditions for the immediate comfort of the baby concerned, and returned to the more alluring considerations of a bargain counter.

It is perhaps for such domestic reasons, perhaps for causes which affect more generally the evolution of retail shop keeping, that trade of every sort is concentrated more and more under the single roof of the so-called department store in America. As in London, so in New York, everything from the proverbial elephant to the ordinary toothpick may be bought at the stores….

Aside from the primary category of women who shop with the idea of domestic economy, there is another class who likewise no doubt exist only in the United States.

Talking not long ago with a rising young lawyer about the American habit of “living up to one’s income,” I was interested in what he told me, for it represents the situation of a large class of American business and professional men.

“They often reproach us Americans,” he said, “for our thriftlessness. They don’t realise how many expenses are forced involuntarily upon us. I, for example, was recently given charge of an important case with the condition specified that part of the large fee I received was to be immediately re-expended in making more of an outlay, generally. My offices were considered too modest for the counsel of a great financial company. I was obliged to move. I had also to rent a larger house in the country, to have more servants, and the rest. Materially, so to speak, I represent my clients, and if they keep on increasing in importance I shall be obliged to buy property and to own a motor car!”

All these enforced expenditures entail a multitude of minor extravagances which devolve upon the wife, who becomes, in consequence, an assiduous shopper. She shops, not because she has any especial needs, nor because she entertains, or has even any social life whatever, but because her husband is making money, which must be spent as a testimony to the world of his flourishing position. This category of shopper buys the finest linen for her vacant house, the most costly silver and china; she chooses diamonds which are to glitter unseen unless she wears them in the street—which, it has been observed, she very often does. She buys laces and furs, and what she has is “of the best, the very best.”

How does she educate her taste, we ask? For her taste is remarkably good, and bears even a high reputation among the Parisian dressmakers with whom she soon begins to deal.

She is imitative, she is adaptable, she seems to have no ingrained vulgarity, no radical commonness which, given the proper example to follow, she cannot shake off.

And where, in the matter of shopping, does she find this example?

In the newspapers, in the reports of what is being purchased from day to day by the élite circle who have devoted their lives to the cultivating of their tastes.

The owner of one of the largest stores in New York said to me: “In France they have periodical sales, which are advertised by the different shops a year in advance. Such a thing is impossible here. If you go any day to one of the big dress stores in Paris, you will see exactly the same pattern that you saw there ten years before: there is a whole class of people who, no matter what the passing fashion may be, dress about alike. Here”—he threw up his hands and laughed—“everybody wants to be dressed like the leaders of Society. If they see in the paper that one of them has worn some new thing at a ball, there are five thousand of them the next day who want that thing, and who are going to have it, whether they ran afford it or not.”

“So you give it to them? ”

“That’s our business—watching every caprice of the buying public. We can’t plan for any sales, we can only every now and then take advantage of a chance we may have to get cheap something the public is after. Then we can offer them a bargain.”

This lightning communication of the fashion news among shoppers extends to the smallest towns. One of the “queens” of society having appeared at the races last spring in a plum-coloured Paris gown, a ripple of “plum colour” ran over America, sounding in the ears of the manufacturers, ever on the alert. One of them said to me: “There’s nothing pretty in that plum colour, but our mills have had to put everything aside and run the looms on plum colour for five solid weeks.”

When it comes to these worldly “queens” who set the fashion, shopping in New York takes formidable proportions. We have here the estimate of the amount spent on dress per year by many a rich American woman. The items were given by the “fournisseurs” themselves.

shopping in New York annual expenditure.JPG

The number of women in New York who spend fifteen thousand dollars a year on clothes is estimated at two thousand! It is not surprising, is it, that the New York shops should have the air of existing for women only? There are a few men’s furnishers and tobacco dealers who have made a name for themselves, but one finds them in the basement entrance of mansions whose facades are gay with the hats and gowns and laces that form such a gigantic item in the New York woman’s daily expenses…

The fact that two thousand women, without arousing even passing comment, should each of them spend annually on her clothes so important a sum as fifteen thousand dollars, sufficiently proves how exorbitantly expensive every trifling luxury becomes when it has been produced in or imported to the United States.

The Empress Eugenie, deploring the faux luxe of to-day, and recalling, no doubt, certain reflections made, at an unhappy moment, upon her own extravagance, wrote recently in a letter: “During all the time I was Empress I had only three dresses which cost each as much as a thousand francs: one for my wedding, one for the christening of the Prince Imperial, one for the Exposition of 1858.”

This thousand francs, which clad an Empress in such gowns as will long be remembered, is the price paid by the ordinarily successful New York broker’s wife for her ordinary little toilettes. But, while it is difficult for her to obtain a walking frock for less than two hundred dollars, her poor sister of the tenement district finds American machine-made clothes cheaper even than they are in Europe. And so it goes through all the category of articles to be found in the New York stores: the very rich and the very poor find what they are looking for. Those who have “moderate incomes” are constantly embarrassed between wanting the nice things they can’t afford and having to buy the nasty productions they don’t want.

The result is just this: everything that is fashionable is hastily copied in cheap qualities. If you are looking in a New York shop for solid, sober dress-goods, for example, to offer to a family retainer, you will be given, unless you are very explicit, the flimsy, low-grade copy of some stuff you have just seen on the backs of the rich.

This system has its advantages: in the matter of boots and shoes the cheapest ready-made dealer provides his clients with foot-covering copied in form at least from the best models procurable. And his customer, whatever may be his rank in life, car conductor or country store clerk, wears good-looking boots of which he is very evidently proud!…

In all the large department stores, and in the first-class boutiques generally, the credit system is in vogue. Doubtless this is a whet to the reckless spirit of the assiduous shopper. We read of a certain lady belonging to this category, who died quite recently in Brooklyn, New York. It was found that her “mania for shopping” was such that, during four years’ time, she had had charged to her account at the stores two hundred and fifty thousand dollars’ worth of things for which she had no use whatever! Her spacious home was filled with unopened parcels! One room, it was found, contained nothing, from floor to ceiling, but handkerchiefs. Shopping at this rate, it will be seen, becomes something in the nature of a passion, and perhaps it could not reach this degree of intensity without the facility for “charging.”

If the American shopkeeper be lenient, and very cunningly so, in trusting his customers, he is uncompromising about taking back things that have once been delivered. “No goods exchanged” is the warning which stands in glaring evidence at the threshold of the different departments. Exceptions, of course, are made for customers of long enduring reputation.

As for advertising, it suffices to scan a Sunday newspaper, or to lift one of the American magazines with its hundred and fifty pages of advertisements, to realise how keenly alive to shopping suggestion is the American woman. It is commonly understood, in fact, that the “wash day” in the middle-class American family has been changed from the traditional Monday to Tuesday, so that the housewives can take advantage of the “bargains” set forth in alluring type among the folios of the Sunday journals.

In a recent book on “Modern Advertising,” We learn that preparing the réclames for a large department store is almost as complicated an affair as compiling a daily paper. What the influence of these announcements is, is proved by a single resulting fact. For years there was a prejudice in America against doing anything—even shopping-on a Friday. So gradually, in order to attract shoppers on that ill-fated day, the storekeepers adopted the habit of proclaiming special Friday bargains and sales. Next to Monday there is no day now when the shops are so thronged as on Friday!…

The “strenuousness” of the shopper’s life is indicated by the presence in all large stores of an emergency hospital, a physician and a trained nurse to take care of the “women who faint” or collapse on their busy rounds…

The usual traditional empressé manner of clerks is debarred in American shops. Urging and coaxing, proposing, suggesting, are the salesman’s trump cards in France. They act only as an irritant with the Westerner, whose psychology, as we have seen, is somewhat peculiar. At one of the large New York stores frequent complaints were preferred, by the customers, regarding the “eagerness” of the clerks. “They only annoy us,” the fair shoppers explained, “by their politeness. We can choose for ourselves, I guess—that’s just what we go shopping for!”

The Pall Mall Magazine, Volume 37 1906: pp. 744-748

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: The hurly-burly of the so-called “Black Friday” is celebrated in legend and song in the United States. Every year, it seems to Mrs Daffodil, there are more casualties in the “Run for the Large-Screen Television Sets;” the “Dash for the Very Latest Video Game,” or “The Race for the Last Must-Have Toy.”  It is always a matter of wonder that there are so few fatalities.

 

 

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.

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.

 

The Pine Tree Perfume Cure: 1906

pine needle pillow

PINE TREE PERFUME CURE.

SWEET SCENTS A RESTORER OF TIRED NERVES.

The Odor of the Pines the Perfume That Women Rely on Most Just Now to Drive Away the Blues

Perfumed Sea Salt for Bath

Scented Moth Barriers.

Pine needle and sweet perfumes are used to soothe the nerves of the New York woman. It has been discovered that you need not be out of sorts unless you want to be, and in addition that you can cure your troublesome nerves with nice sweet odors instead of resorting to unpleasant drugs.

The first and most particular rule is that the sweet odors must be natural ones. There must be no made-up perfumes. The scents must be those that grow in the parks and spring up in the woods, that come to life with the budding of the flowers and die down when the flowers fade.

Those who are trying the perfume cure are giving their attention just now to pine scents mostly. If you want to get the genuine pine odor, take a pine pillow no matter how old and lay it near the fire.

In a little while it will begin to warm up and to give out sweet scents. You will be treated to the original odor of the pine.

There is a very nervous and very sensitive woman in New York who treats herself every day to the pine needle cure. When she was away last summer she gathered material for many pillows of pine needles.

When she is tired she takes a pillow and warms it and presently it begins to give out a sweet smell of pines. Then she puts the pillow behind her head and in a little while she feels refreshed.

On days when she is very tired In deed and needs a quick freshing she takes a dozen pillows and heats them very quickly. With these she furnishes her couch. She heaps it high with pillows and then she lies down and breathes the sweet scent. In 15 minutes she feels all right again.

There is an extra nervous woman in town who has a comfortable stuffed with pine needles. She gathered the needles this fall, and then she put them in the comfortable and quilted it just as though she were quilting feathers.

Pretty soon she had a thick, sweet, beautiful covering. It was heavy, but so delicious that she did not mind the weight.

Some nights when she is very weary she sleeps with this heavy pine comfortable over her. Again she heats it and puts it underneath her. It is refreshing, no matter how she uses it.

If you like sweet scents and want to try the perfume cure you can get them by utilizing odds and ends about the house. You will be surprised to find how many you can turn into perfume.

Take apple peelings and dry them and some day when the house seems muggy take a handful and throw them on the stove. Take off the peelings before they begin to burn, but leave them on just long enough to get the delicious fumes they will give out, the fumes that are so delightful when they come out of the oven as baked apples are cooking. Some women keep a chafing dish always handy for the making of sweet scents. Into the chafing dish they can put a little cologne, which when heated will send its fragrance through the room, or they can add a pinch of cinnamon or half a drop of oil of cloves, or even a tiny bit of apple peeling. It takes very little to make a pleasant smell in the room.

The influence of odors upon the spirits can hardly be overestimated. If you will go in a pine forest you are greeted with a smell which is invigorating, in its curious buoyancy.

If you go into a clover field you get an odor which is just as pleasant but altogether different, and this odor can be brought into the house in winter by taking clover heads, drying them and stuffing pillows with them. On some muggy, gloomy day the pillow can be warmed up and you have a perfume which is delightful.

If you want something particularly pleasant take some sea salt and put it in a wide mouthed bottle and pour in a few drops of violet perfume. Close the bottle tight, let it stand a while, then open, and you get the curious smell of salt sea, with a slight tinge of violet, which is always found in salt air.

If you want to take a bath in some thing that is very sweet smelling prepare some sea salt after this fashion: Buy the salt at the drug store; take a big handful of it, lay it in a bottle and add some violet perfume. Let it stand three days and it is ready for the bath.

Another plan is to add to the sea salt a grain of musk, a little essence of violet and finally about a teaspoonful of alcohol. Set the bottle away for three days, turning it twice a day.

When you are ready to take your bath, throw a handful of the sea salt into the water. It will perfume the water without making it too salty. Take a jug of salt, and into a gallon jug pour half an ounce of rose geranium oil and a cup of alcohol. Turn your jug upside down. Let it stand a day or so, and so on until you have worked with it three weeks. The result will be a very nice jug of sweet smells.

There come squares of a preparation of ammonia which can be made into very nice bath vinegar. Take a dozen or more of these solid pieces and add just enough violet perfume to cover them.

Then add spirits of cologne until you have a pint bottle nicely filled. This makes a delicious bath vinegar, which can be used every day for two weeks, for it takes very little to perfume the water.

If you like your hands to smell sweet, and to some people there is something positively intoxicating about a pair of sweet hands, you can make a hand wash by taking a quart of spirits of cologne, put it in a half gallon jug, add an ounce of oil of rose geranium and two grains of musk. Let it stand a week; then fill up with spirits of cologne. At the end of another week you will have as fine a gallon of perfume as you will want. When you are ready to wash your hands, with this sweet mixture take a bowl of warm water and add to it a pinch of powdered borax. Into this put half a wine glass of perfume.

Use no soap, but keep this water for rinsing. It will impart a lasting fragrance which will remain upon your hands from morning until night.

Have you ever tried putting up your winter furs in perfumery? Make some sachets and scatter them through the storage chest, thus using sachet powders instead of camphor. You will find that the moths stay away just as well and the furs come out in the fall smelling sweet. And the same thing with clothes those which you are putting away until spring. Many of them are of cashmere and light wool and you don’t want the moths to get into them. Put them away between layers of sachets and you will find that you will have never a moth.

There is a story told of a woman who spent the summer upon the Jersey coast where mosquitoes are thick. Not wanting to be eaten alive she sprinkled her bedroom with sachet powder until the whole room was filled with the perfume. All night long she slept in peace.

Animals do not as a rule like strong odors, and disease germs are particularly averse to them. A strong odor of rose will drive away many of the contagious diseases, so some scientists affirm, and you can actually keep yourself well by having nice smells around you.

Attar of rose is very effective, but unfortunately it is expensive. Oil of rose geranium is very effective and there are other extracts which can be bought and used to good advantage.

In old fashioned German households the custom prevails of buying a certain amount of good perfume every year. This perfume is bought not to be bottled and preserved, but to be used, and when it disappears more is purchased.

The fad for a distinctive odor is dying away, and women are inclined to scent themselves like an English garden. An English garden is one in which all the common flowers grow, and when you take a sniff of it you do not know whether you are smelling violets or mignonette, geraniums or roses, delicate pansies or strong heliotrope. Thus it is fashionable to mingle your perfumes.

The pine tree scent is the odor of the moment, and wise women are making little bags of pine and heaping them up, so that they and their apartments may smell like a pine tree. New York Sun.

Pointe Coupee Banner [New Roads, LA] 24 March 1906: p. 7

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: The modern “aroma-therapy” industry is nothing new.  So many of the suggestions in this article are still current: persons selling homes are urged to bake an apple pie or boil apple peels and cinnamon to create a “welcome-home” atmosphere. Scented bath-salts and candles are a popular hostess gift. And in this scientific age, when we are supposed to have moved beyond the whimsical theory that germs are animals that will flee at the scent of roses, we find aggressively scented “anti-bacterial” sprays. One can also buy “pine scent” to give the artificial Christmas tree a whiff of holidays past without the necessity of cleaning up pine needles for months afterwards.

One physician claimed that pine-needles were a handy specific for influenza, although Mrs Daffodil is pursing her lips dubiously at the method of delivery:

Pine-Needle Cigar and Cigarettes in Influenza.—As an item of interest, the quickest relief from Influenza which my patients obtain, is through the use of pine-needle cigars and cigarettes. I find that they will act as a preventative, and once the disease has instituted proceedings they act like magic. Any one can make the cigarettes. I have no hesitancy in recommending their use, as nothing is used in their manufacture but the fresh pine needle and the best of tobacco a non-smoker can inhale with no unpleasant effects.—Harry Neafle, M. D., in the Medical News.

The Medical Age Vol. 8, 1890: p. 20

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.

Halloween Charms: 1903

apple peel

A young woman tosses an apple peel over her shoulder to divine the initial of her future husband.

Halloween Charms

Young men, who wish to decide their fate on Halloween should dress in their best, walk to the candy store about 7 p.m., purchase a box of the most expensive dainties, and go to the home of some girl. Be sure that you select the home of the one you imagine to be the bright particular star of them all. After asking for her, put your hat and stick within convenient reach, assume a pleasant smile, and when she appears give her the candy. Along with this say as many sweet things as come into your head. Then repeat slowly but distinctly these words: “Will you marry me?” If she answers “Yes” your fate is fixed.

A quaint old custom for girls who wish to peer into the future is to walk down the cellar stairs backward at midnight, holding a candle in the hand and peer into a mirror. There the face of the future husband possibly will be seen. An improvement upon this custom is for the girl to walk into the kitchen and secure a juicy apple pie. Return to the parlor, holding the pie carefully before you. Take a knife and cut it into quarters. Put one quarter on a plate, pour over it some rich cream, lay a spoon beside the pie and hand it to the young man, saying at the same time: “I made this pie myself.” This beats the cellar stairs and mirror experiment about ten miles. It is a certain augur of the future.

Throwing an apple peeling over the shoulder is another odd old custom for Halloween observance. The peeling is supposed to curl into a letter representing the initial of the future husband’s name. A better test than this is to let the young man see you idly scribbling. You write your first name and then his last name. Thus, if your first name is Lucille and his last name is Miggleberry, you would write “Lucille Miggleberry.” Naturally, he will want to see what you have written. Then you must blush and seem confused and try to tear of the paper. DO NOT TEAR IT UP. After due reluctance, let him see what you have written, coyly explaining that you just wondered how the names would look together.

Burning a paper on which is written the name of the adored one is also a favorite charm for Halloween. This is popularly supposed to bring him to his senses. A much surer plan, and a more sociable one, is to invite him to spend the evening, and also to ask another man—a handsome man who is tolerably smitten with you himself. Contrive to send the second man home earlier than the adored one. This is said to work well indeed.

Omaha [NE] Daily Bee 30 October 1904: p. 33

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Other Hallowe’en customs included hiding a dime, a ring and a thimble in a cake or a dish of mashed potatoes. The person finding the ring will soon be married. The one who gets the thimble will be a spinster. And the finder of the dime will never lack for money.  Mrs Daffodil suspects that there was often some sleight-of-hand involved in cutting the cake or dishing the potatoes. There were still other rituals involving mirrors at midnight and various rhyming charms at windows.

Mrs Daffodil is puzzled as to how a religious feast  celebrating the dead emerging from their graves to wander the earth became a festival of divinatory practices to identify one’s future spouse. One supposes it is a manifestation of that vulgar expression, “sex and death,” so amply represented in these latter days by the many “naughty nurse” Hallowe’en costumes.

Mrs Daffodil has written of other, darker Hallowe’en superstitions and of Queen Victoria’s celebration of Hallowe’en at Balmoral.

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.

 

Jack Horner Pies for Hallowe’en: 1909-1916

jack horner pie for halloween

A Halloween party without a Jack Horner surprise pie would be Hamlet with the Dane and Ophelia and even the ghost left out, so barren would the good old day be without this standby. Made of crape paper and holding little prizes and favors, this novelty is sure to be a success with children and grownups alike. In the pie illustrated each little witch with her bright white spotted dress and apron, red cardboard hat and tiny broom, is attached to a string at the end of which is a suitable favor. Weird red “devils” and ugly black cats are perched on the handle of the basket.

The Colfax [WA] Gazette 28 October 1910: p. 8

JACK HORNER PIES.

The Jack Horner pie is a favorite sort of decoration nowadays for all occasions, and as it serves both as a decoration and a receptacle for favors, it is especially valued by the hostess. It is most appropriate for the Halloween frolic.

One Jack Horner pie is simply huge golden pumpkin, made of crepe paper stretched over a wire frame. Inside the paper pumpkin there are little favors, fastened to ribbons. These ribbons are passed through slits in the pumpkin and at their other ends, one of which is placed at each plate, are tiny pumpkins.

A most beautiful Jack Horner pie for a girl’s party represents a pretty doll driving In a goose wagon drawn by black cats. The goose–which is no more than a pasteboard candy box–can be bought at a good candy store, and the black cats are the usual weird coal black little things, harnessed up with scarlet ribbons, which the dollie inside the wagon holds in her small hands. But as to this small lady, she is nothing but head and hands, for her ballooning skirt is meant only to cover the tissue paper bag containing the gifts. A very effective pie could be made of two flat pieces of cardboard cut out to represent a weird at of the Hallowe’en species and painted black. Fasten these each side of a narrow cardboard box, also painted black, and glue crimson paper around the inside of the box to serve as the pouch for the presents. Slit holes in the paper bag for ribbons to come through, and twist around the top lightly so that everything will come out easily.

A clock is a novel Jack Horner pie. It is a round box, of course, covered with yellow paper. On its big face are fastened figures representing the hours of black paper. Two black hands point to the witching figure for 12 o’clock. Hanging from the bottom. like so many pendulums, are ribbons’ which are to be pulled when time comes for the guests to get their gifts.

Still another “pie” is a basket of pumpkins. The basket is covered with yellow paper and in it are lots of little paper pumpkins. Each, of course, contains a gift and when gift time comes the basket is passed around.

Then there is the witch pie. This is a witch made of a doll’s head, with a capacious orange paper skirt and black paper shawl and cap. Under the skirt are the gifts, with yellow or black ribbons attached to them escaping from beneath the hem.

Evening Star [Washington DC] 27 October 1916: p. 16

The imposing centerpiece illustrated [at the head of this post] is a Jack Horner pie, filled with favors. These favors are hidden in the basket which forms the foundation for the “pie,” and ribbons, passing up through the piecrust of crepe paper are attached to the little witches which decorate the top of the pie. The big witch head in the center is added merely ass an ornament and may be presented ceremoniously to some particular guest. A fringe of snappy mottoes with brooms attached surrounds the basket and the handle is covered by witches’ brooms made of faggots in which roost hobgoblins, banshees and other terrifying creatures. Such a centerpiece, of course, would cost a substantial sum, but the same idea might be carried out with less expense, using one good-sized witch for a center and bringing the ribbons attached to the hidden favors over the edges of the basket where they form a fringe finished by little apples or yellow crepe paper pumpkins. The fagot brooms may be easily made form ordinary twigs and hobgoblins and black cats cut form paper may nestle in the branches.

The Topeka [KS] State Journal 30 October 1909: p. 18

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  Jack Horner pies were not just for Hallowe’en, but seemed to receive the most coverage at that time. Many and varied were the shapes and prizes.

Countless are the tiny trifles for 5 cents and less one can find in the stock of some stores and which make the nicest little souvenirs for child parties. One tray discloses little bundles made up of five toys each–a tiny wooden pail of bright apples, a black rake, a black cat, a green frog, a carrot, a cucumber or an onion. Garden vegetables seem to be eminently appropriate for Halloween and everywhere there are delightful candy boxes simulating them. They are all effective on the table, and every box may serve as a souvenir. The small vegetables are, of course, only of painted wood or of cotton, but children find them amusing when they haul them out of a Jack Horner pie.
The more novel the Jack Horner pie for Halloween the more amusing it will seem, so a good deal of personal ingenuity may be exercised. One pie turned out by a toy shop is made like a French doll, the dainty little lady carrying an immense bandbox of flowered paper, this, of course, holding the gifts. Another doll is set in a little cardboard wagon, six black cats, with scarlet leashes, drawing the trap. Behind the wagon fall the ribbons to be pulled, and when the critical moment comes the wagon will go to pieces like the one horse shay.
The Jack Horner pie for Halloween is also often hidden in the stomach of a big scarecrow, and there are balloon aeroplane and goose and owl pies, the gifts tucked away inside the hollow ornament, and covered with tissue paper, so that they jerk out without trouble. But the big paper pumpkin
makes the most effective pie of all for Halloween, and when it is turned out with highest art it may cost $10 in the shop.

The Pensacola [FL] Journal 24 October 1911: p. 5

Mrs Daffodil was explaining the Jack Horner pie to an American acquaintance unfamiliar with the idea, who wondered how the crusts were kept fresh until sold and how the crusts did not crumble when the ribbons were pulled.

 

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.

A Halloween Prank:1910

1910-1919 veiling mourning hat

When a young man rapped timidly at his door the other evening, Rev. George I. Foster, 1106 Addison-rd N.E. opened it. The young man, who was not tall, told Rev. Mr. Foster bashfully that he had come to be married.

“To whom?” asked the minister.

“To her,” said the young man, and he pointed into the gloom of the porch to a rather tall young woman whose features were hid under a heavy dotted veil. It was chilly out and there wasn’t much time for parley.

“Won’t you step in?” said the minister.

In the front parlor Rev. Mr. Foster began conversation with, “You are the couple of whom my wife spoke at dinner?”

“I suppose we are,” replied the prospective groom. “I called up this afternoon.”

So the two stood up and Rev. Mr. Foster began the ceremony.

The young woman was very modest. She answered the questions in her turn, but she couldn’t talk loud. She kept her hat and veil on and perhaps that hindered her or else it was all new to her, or she had a cold. Anyway she managed to make herself heard and when the ceremony was ended the little husband asked what the fee was. He was laboriously pulling a pocketbook out of his trousers’ pocket.

“Now, where is the license?” asked Rev. Mr. Foster, according to rule.

“Why, we had no license,” said the young man as he tendered a bill.

“Then you’re not married.”

“What, not married?” came from the astonished bride and groom together.

The minister said that was the case.

“Very well,” said the young couple.

The young woman lifted her veil, the young man tore a tiny mustache off his lip and there stood Mrs. Foster, the pastor’s wife and Mrs. Alfred Shaw, a near neighbor and friend.

It was Halloween. Rev. Mr. Foster said it was very skillfully done.

Plain Dealer [Cleveland OH] 3 November 1910: p. 1

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Mrs Daffodil suspects that, had the prank been perpetrated on anyone but a man of the cloth, “skillfully done” would have been the least of the comments from the victim of the imposture. Mrs Daffodil also wonders who tipped off the newspaper. The newspaper rather spoilt the fun with its headline:

MINISTER, ON HALLOWEEN, MARRIES HIS WIFE TO WOMAN LIVING NEAR BY

Goes Through Ceremony According to Rote, Discovering Joke Only When License to Wed is Asked and Refused.

The Rev. Mr. Foster, who was Rector of the Church of the Good Shepherd in Cleveland, Ohio was quite the artistic nibs: he wrote and published operettas, cantatas, and band music. He also knew about the importance of casting the right person for the part. In 1907 he wrote an operetta for the children of the church, “Jack the Giant Killer.” Since none of the children were tall enough for the role of the giant, he looked out from the pulpit at his congregation one Sunday, noted a fellow who towered over his pew-mates and afterwards congratulated a bemused draftsman named John Davis on getting the part. He died in 1935 and the church seems to have closed its doors soon afterward. No one could fill his clerical or theatrical shoes.

Mrs Daffodil wonders if the Rev. Mr Foster was near-sighted. A man’s suit and a “tiny mustache” seems scarcely adequate to conceal the face, form, and sex of a “near neighbor and friend.”

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.