Tag Archives: Victorian amusements

“Won’t You Skip, Sir?”: 1879


Jump rope with mechanical counter. 1872

Jump rope with mechanical counter. 1872

“Won’t You Skip, Sir?”

Pedestrians on Plymouth avenue were very much amused the other afternoon at a little scene, in which several well known ladies and gentlemen participated, greatly to their own satisfaction and the edification of others. Two children, a boy and a girl, one of each side of the walk, were swinging a skipping rope, and from their actions it was evident they had an object in view. The first to approach was one of our prominent jewelers, and he was greeted with the request, most politely made, “won’t you jump, sir, before you go past?” The gentleman received the proposal in the same spirit that it was offered, settled his hat firmly on his head, looked around to see that no one was near, measured the distance with a practiced eye, jumped the flying rope with all the ease and accuracy of youth, and then marched on with a smile on his face, glancing neither to the right or to the left. No far behind was a popular Main Street groceryman, who observed the performance and at once caught the humor of the thing. He is bulky in form and short in wind, but when the inquiry came, “Won’t you jump, sir?” he replied, “Of course I will,” and forthwith spread himself in the air with an abandon that threatened to burst his coat, but which cleared the rope, to the infinite delight of the children. The next was the critical test. She was young and shapely, bright of face, and stylish of apparel, and she had witnessed the aerial flights of her predecessors. It was her turn, and to the honor of the sex, be it said, she did not shirk the responsibility. The trail was kicked up and firmly grasped, the body swayed for a moment in time with the rope, then came a spring, a flash of cardinal hose in the sunlight as she swept through the air with the greatest of ease, and then pursued her way without a misplaced ruffle to tell the story of her daring. The next victim was one of the Sunday school scholars who reports for this paper, and greatly to his discredit, be it said, he made a most inglorious failure. He was more accustomed to skipping the tra-la-le than a jumping rope, and the result was disaster. He extricated himself, however, but the blushes on his face was so deep that he could not see those who came after, and as a veracious chronicler of events of course the story is compelled to conclude with his mishap.

The Wyandott Herald [Kansas City, KS] 22 May 1879: p. 4

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: At the date of this little vignette, the young lady in the cardinal hose would perhaps have worn something like this French confection, making her pluck and agility worthy of high commendation. Mrs Daffodil will pass over in silence the perpetually tardy “Sunday School scholar,” who, no doubt, was recovering from some juvenile debauch.

1879 French gown

1879 French gown

red overdone french3


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 Cobweb Party: 1892

From American Spiders and their Spinningwork, 1889.

From American Spiders and their Spinningwork, 1889.

Of all the pleasing and novel entertainments, nothing affords more genuine enjoyment than a cobweb party. It is truly a curious sight to watch a merry party flitting here and there, in this room and that, untying knots, crossing and uncrossing ribbons which have been interlaced and intertwined until it seems that there is no end to any of them.

A cobweb party affords a pleasant and amusing entertainment for those who do not play cards or other games, and is very simple to arrange, as well as inexpensive. Of course, like many other festive occasions, the hostess, if she so desires, can make it as elaborate as she sees fit, and spend any amount of money, but there is no need of it.

If the company is small, double parlors are sufficiently large for the occasion. A network of gay ribbons, yards and yards in length, woven and interwoven, with one end within reach, makes the large rooms resemble an immense rainbow. At the other end are fastened prizes, which are hidden in all sorts of odd nooks, behind pictures, under chairs, on mantels, up-stairs or down stairs.

The number of ribbons is governed by the number of guests invited.

Sometimes the prizes are exquisite little souvenirs in jewelry, silver, books and pictures. Just now, when the latest fad is spoons, it is a pretty idea to have half a dozen or so of these useful and acceptable articles among the prizes, if expense is no object with the hostess.

Scarf-pins, rings, bracelets, etc., heart-shaped, are all pretty novelties for prizes.

Where economy must be practiced, all manner of dainty things can be made at home, which will be fully as acceptable as those which are purchased.

Sachets of all styles and designs, sofa pillows, doileys and tray cloths of fine linen, handsomely embroidered scarfs, of bolting cloth or white silk, embroidered or painted; bureau pads, glove, handkerchief and jewelry boxes and book-covers are among the many attractive and useful pieces of fancy work suitable for prizes. Very frequently amusing and ridiculous prizes are given, to which are attached an original poem or an apt quotation.

Sometimes it requires hours to find the coveted prize; then, again, a few moments will bring the article to view. Some few, who lack perseverance and persistence, never get to the end of their string.

One writer says: “Cobweb parties are not intended for the entertainment of philosophers, but to while away an evening in a novel and pleasant way; and they do.”

Refreshments are by no means one of the least important features of a cobweb party. Oftentimes the company are invited to a six o’clock tea, which they fully enjoy before going to the parlors in search of prizes. At a novel and festive party the guests were given envelopes, containing blank cards, with a bow or, rosette of ribbon attached. The gentlemen were sent in search of their partners, who had duplicate cards and ribbons. Inasmuch as no two ladies or gentlemen had the same color and number, it was not difficult to find their partner.

Each table had a distinct color in decorations, and would accommodate two couple, so the cards were numbered “yellow, number one,” and “yellow, number two,” for the two couple who were to sit at the yellow table. The colors used for the tables were pink, blue, yellow, red, white, green, buff, orange, purple and lavender.

The flowers, candelabra, and souvenir cards all corresponded in color, and the lunch cloths used were fine and sheer, and laid over a solid color that showed through faintly, The souvenir cards used were simple ones, of heavy, cream-tinted cardboard, with a dainty spray of flowers painted on them, and containing several appropriate quotations, with the name of the hostess and date of party. Ribbons to match the table were used to tie them with.

Simple refreshments can be used where it is an evening party, which consist of sandwiches and coffee or chocolate, and ice-cream and cake. Sometimes fruit is used instead of anything else. Below is given a menu suitable for the six o’clock tea:

Fried Chicken, Creamed Potatoes,

Pineapple Ice, Macaroons

It lies with the hostess to make such a party pleasant and successful. It is especially suitable for a merry crowd of young people.

A young girl of seventeen celebrated her seventeenth birthday recently by giving a cobweb party, which was a delightful affair.

Godey’s Lady’s Book [Philadelphia, PA] July, 1892

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: As for the cobweb party not being “the entertainment of philosophers,” Mrs Daffodil can readily conceive that such a hurly-burly,  whether pineapple ices were served or not, would quite possibly have lacked essential appeal for Schopenhauer, the angst-ridden Kierkegaard, and Nietzsche (unless his Dionysian side attended). No matter. They were not invited.

Mrs Daffodil notes that the cobweb party has been recently revived as a wholesome family entertainment instead of a method for merry young couples to delay getting to the end of their strings.

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.