Long after your grandmother has died, when you think back about her table settings, her choices will reveal her “ways” in a manner you had not imagined. For this reason, everything about a grandmother’s table is of historic, sociological and family interest. A meal is central to our socialization and it tells us volumes.
Large family dinners and large business-related dinners meant that my paternal grandmother had lots of “gear” to go. Because her husband ran a department store with an office in London, she could source beautiful linens, stem ware and china at cost. She favored Minton and L’Imoges and today what she had in her pantry are now styled “Antique Minton” and “Antique l’Imoges.” Some resembled the following. My favorites were the raised patterns with gold:
Her collection of china was very much like the above. It was like looking at candy.
Her tablecloths and table runners were exquisite. But most amazing were champagne silk place mats with lace edges. There were square pieces for the stem ware. This group includes a tea-tray cloth.
Because grandmother gave large card parties with tables set up all over the downstairs, I found that she had a minimum of 20 luncheon napkins in each style to accommodate the tables when set for the meal that preceded the playing. Long ago, a lovely lady who had helped at the house when Grandma was alive, took me through the downstairs and showed me where she had set up the tables and described a typical gathering.
Among my grandmother’s linens I found a crocheted lace piece that was a peculiar shape. Because it was heavy, I assumed it must have been worn by my grandmother’s Belgian mother as a kind of cap. So I tried it on. Oh, how lovely.
I was quickly disabused of my talent for identification of ancient pieces. In looking over pictures of grandmother’s house, I found a picture of a chair wearing it. Can you say “antimacassar”?