SIMPLER TIMES WHEN PARTIES WERE VERY DEFINITELY PARTIES (YOU COULD TELL BY THE FROG PIE...)
Hello everyone – and what cheering news there has been of late, as we’re able to dispense with the so-called Plan B strictures with immediate effect and resume a life of relative normality.
It may be the case that you are so cheered by this news that you’d like to celebrate by throwing a party – for friends, family, even work colleagues. But that, of course, will invoke the whole thorny issue of deciding whether or not it actually is a party, or a gathering or a work event, whether you as the organiser knew anything about it or in what form you intend to be present, if at all - but I digress…
Parties, of course, are an excuse for the host to take centre stage, to make as much (or as little) effort is deemed appropriate to impress your guests as you welcome them in to your humble home (or in the garden – BYOB…).
In Georgian times, the nouveau riche of England’s merchant class – who’d made the most of new trading opportunities to line their pockets – grasped this opportunity for shameless self-aggrandisement with both hands.
It was considered an imperative for your dining table to be positively groaning with as extensive a collection of tableware imaginable - be it in glass, porcelain or silver. Each successive stage of the dining process demanded its own specific equipment, and as it was the done thing to serve up six, seven – sometimes eight – courses, complete sets could number hundreds of pieces – in addition to cutlery and drinking glasses, which were both equally profuse.
Of course, the entire point of this largesse was simply to demonstrate that you had the financial wherewithal to buy as many individual pieces as possible. Your plates and dishes had to be as much a part of the occasion as the food itself. There was also the little matter of dressing or decorating your dining table, with everything from expensively acquired pineapples (naturally, on their own specifically designed cut-glass stands) to colourful, multi-tiered displays of exotic sweetmeats.
In addition to such edible treats, you may have found yourself ‘entertained’ by pies full of live frogs or songbirds – released at an appropriate moment to enchant and enrapture dinner guests – or facsimiles of battleships, with miniature working cannons – it really was a case of unbridled ostentation.
Fortunately for us, this surfeit of tableware has meant that – in spite of the ravages of passing time – there are numerous examples which can be collected and coveted to this day. Naturally, this is when my humble sales outlet comes to the fore, as we have all manner of Georgian, Regency and Victorian tableware available for your delectation (and purchase, of course).
There are many pieces physically on display down at The Corn Exchange, with yet more on line at ScottishAntiques.com, so next time you feel moved to rustle up a finger buffet and crack out the trifle, consider presenting your tempting comestibles on period serving dishes or tazzas, or comports or custard cups or any of the other near-infinite variety of accessories.
All you are then required to do is to determine whether your soiree is a party or a work function, which may – on reflection – prove to be the thorniest aspect of the entire proceedings…