Manners and social usages,

CHAPTER XXXII.FAVORS AND BONBONNIÈRES.


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Truly “the world is very young for its age.” We are never too old to admire a pretty favor or a tasteful bonbonnière; and, looking back over the season, we remember, as among the most charming of the favors, those with flowers painted upon silken banners, with the owner’s name intertwined. The technical difficulties of painting upon silk are somewhat conquered, one would think, in looking at the endless devices composed of satin and painted flowers on the lunch-tables. Little boxes covered with silk, in eight and six sided forms, with panels let in, on which are painted acorns and oak leaves, rosebuds or lilies, and always the name or the cipher of the recipient, are very pretty. The Easter-egg has long been a favorite offering in silk, satin, plush, and velvet, in covered, egg-shaped boxes containing bonbons; these, laid in a nest of gold and silver threads in a cloisonné basket, afford a very pretty souvenir to carry home from a luncheon.

Menu-holders of delicate gilt-work are also added to the other favors. These pretty little things sometimes uphold a photograph, or a porcelain plate on which is painted the lady’s name, and also a few flowers. The little porcelain cards are not larger than a visiting-card, and are often very artistic. The famous

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and familiar horseshoe, in silver or silver-gilt, holding up the menu-card, is another pretty favor, and a very nice one to carry home, as it becomes a penholder when it is put on the writing-table. Wire rests, shaped like those used for muskets in barracksyards, are also used for the name and menu-cards. Plateaus, shells, baskets, figurettes, vases holding flowers, dolphins, Tritons, swan, sea animals (in crockery), roses which open and disclose the sugarplums, sprays of coral, and gilt conch-shells, are all pretty, especially when filled with flowers.

Baskets in various styles are often seen. One tied with a broad ribbon at the side is very useful as a work- basket afterwards. Open- work baskets, lined with crimson or scarlet or pink or blue plush, with another lining of silver paper to protect the plums, are very tasteful. A very pretty basket is one hung between three gilt handles or poles, and filled with flowers or candies. Silvered and gilded beetles, or butterflies, fastened on the outside, have a fanciful effect.

Moss-covered trays holding dried grasses and straw, and piles of chocolates that suggest ammunition, are decorative and effective.

Wheelbarrows of tiny size for flowers are a favorite conceit. They are made of straw-work, entirely gilded, or painted black or brown, and picked out with gold; or perhaps pale green, with a bordering of brown. A very pretty one may be made of old cigarbox wood; on one side a monogram painted in red and gold, on the other a spray of autumn leaves. Carved-wood barrows fitted with tin inside may hold a growing

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plant–stephanotis, hyacinths, ferns, ivy, or any other hardy plant–and are very pleasing souvenirs.

The designs for reticules and châtelaines are endless. At a very expensive luncheon, to which twenty-four ladies sat down, a silk reticule a foot square, filled with Maillard’s confections and decorated with an exquisitely painted landscape effect, was presented to each guest. These lovely reticules may be any shape, and composed of almost any material. A very handsome style is an eight-sided, melon-shaped bag of black satin, with a decoration of bunches of scarlet flowers painted or embroidered. Silk braided with gold, brocade, and plush combined, and Turkish towelling with an appliqué of brilliant color, are all suitable and effective.

In the winter a shaded satin muff, in which was hidden a bonbonnière, was the present that made glad the hearts of twenty-eight ladies. These are easily made in the house, and a plush muff with a bird’s head is a favorite “favor.”

A pair of bellows is a pretty and inexpensive bonbonnière. They can be bought at the confectioner’s, and are more satisfactory than when made at home; but if one is ingenious, it is possible, with a little pasteboard, gilt paper, silk, and glue, to turn out a very pretty little knickknack of this kind. However, the French do these things so much better than we do that a lady giving a lunch-party had better buy all her favors at some wholesale place. There is a real economy in buying such articles at the wholesale stores, for the retail dealers double the price.

Bronze, iron, and glass are all pressed into the service, and occasionally we have at a lunch a whole

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military armament of cannon, muskets, swords, bronze helmets, whole suits of armor, tazza for jewellery, miniature cases, inkstands, and powder-boxes, all to hold a few sugar-plums.

At a christening party all the favors savor of the nursery–splendid cradles of flowers, a bassinet of brilliante trimmed with ribbons for a bonbonnière, powder-boxes, puffs, little socks filled with sugar instead of little feet, an infant’s cloak standing on end (really over pasteboard), an infant’s hood, and even the flannel shirt has been copied. Of course the baptismal dish and silver cup are easily imitated.

Perfumery is introduced in little cut-glass bottles, in leaden tubes like paint tubes, in perfumed artificial flowers, in sachets of powder, and in the handles of fans.

Boxes of satinwood, small wood covers for music and blotting cases, painted by hand, are rather pretty favors. The plain boxes and book covers can be bought and ornamented by the young artists of the family. Nothing is prettier than an owl sitting on an ivy vine for one of these. The owl, indeed, plays a very conspicuous part at the modern dinner-table and luncheon. His power of looking wise and being foolish at the same time fits him for modern society. He enters it as a pepper-caster, a feathered bonbonnière, a pickle-holder (in china), and is drawn, painted, and photographed in every style. A pun is made on his name: “Should owled acquaintance be forgot?” etc. He is a favorite in jewellery, and is often carved in jade. Indeed, the owl is having his day, having had the night always to himself.

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The squirrel, the dog, “the frog that would a-wooing go,” the white duck, the pig, and the mouse, are all represented in china, and in the various silks and gauzes of French taste, or in their native skins, or in any of the disguises that people may fancy. Bears with ragged staffs stand guard over a plate of modern faience, as they do over the gates of Warwick Castle. Cats mewing, catching mice, playing on the Jews-harp, elephants full of choicest confectionery, lions and tigers with chocolate insides, and even the marked face and long hair of Oscar Wilde, the last holding within its ample cranium caraway-seeds instead of brains, played their part as favors.

The green enamelled dragon-fly, grasshoppers and beetles, flies and wasps, moths and butterflies, bright-tinted mandarin ducks, peacocks, and ostriches, tortoises cut in pebbles or made of pasteboard, shrimps and crabs, do all coldly furnish forth the lunch-table as favors and bonbonnières. Then come plaster or pasteboard gondolas, skiffs, wherries, steamships, and ferry-boats, all made with wondrous skill and freighted with caramels. Imitation rackets, battledoor and shuttlecock, hoops and sticks, castanets, cup and ball, tambourines, guitars, violins, hand-organs, banjos, and drums, all have their little day as fashionable favors.

Little statuettes of Kate Greenaway’s quaint children now appear as favors, and are very charming. Nor is that “flexible curtain,” the fan, left out. Those of paper, pretty but not expensive, are very common favors. But the opulent offer pretty satin fans painted with the recipient’s monogram, or else a fan which will match flowers and dress. Fans of lace, and of

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tortoise-shell and carved ivory and sandal-wood, are sometimes presented, but they are too ostentatious. Let us say to the givers of feasts, be not too magnificent, but if you give a fan, give one that is good for something, not a thing which breaks with the “first fall.”

A very pretty set of favors, called “fairies,” are little groups of children painted on muslin, with a background of ribbon. The muslin is so thin that the children seem floating on air. The lady’s name is also painted on the ribbon.

We find that favors for gentlemen, such as sunflowers, pin-cushions, small purses, scarf-pins, and sleeve-buttons, are more useful than those bestowed upon ladies, but not so ornamental.

Very pretty baskets, called huits (the baskets used by the vine-growers to carry earth for the roots of the vines), are made of straw ornamented with artificial flowers and grasses, and filled with bonbons.

Little Leghorn hats trimmed with pompons of muslin, blue, pink, or white, are filled with natural flowers and hung on the arm. These are a lovely variation.

Fruits–the apple, pear, orange, and plum, delightfully realistic–are made of composition, and open to disclose most unexpected seeds.

At trowel, a knife, fork, and spoon, of artistically painted wood, and a pair of oars, all claim a passing notice as artistic novelties.

Bags of plush, and silk embroidered with daisies, are very handsome and expensive favors; heavily trimmed with lace, they cost four dollars apiece, but are sold a little cheaper by the dozen. Blue sashes,

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with flowers painted on paper (and attached to the sash a paper on which may be written the menu), cost eighteen dollars a dozen. A dish of snails, fearfully realistic, can be bought for one dollar a plate, fruits for eighteen dollars a dozen, and fans anywhere from twelve up to a hundred dollars a dozen.

A thousand dollars is not an unusual price for a luncheon, including flowers and favors, for eighteen to twenty-four guests. Indeed, a luncheon was given last winter for which the hostess offered a prize for copies in miniature of the musical instruments used in “Patience.” They were furnished to her for three hundred dollars. The names of these now almost obsolete instruments were rappaka, tibia, archlute, tambour, kiffar, quinteme, rebel, tuckin, archviola, lyre, serpentine, chluy, viola da gamba, balalaika, gong, ravanastron, monochord, shopkar. The “archlute” is the mandolin. They represented all countries, and were delicate specimens of toy handiwork.

We have not entered into the vast field of glass, china, porcelain, cloisonné, Dresden, faience jugs, boxes, plates, bottles, and vases, which are all used as favors. Indeed, it would be impossible to describe half of the fancies which minister to modern extravagance. The bonbonnière can cost anything, from five to five hundred dollars; fifty dollars for a satin box filled with candy is not an uncommon price. Sometimes, when the box is of oxidized silver–a quaint copy of the antique from Benvenuto Cellini–this price is not too much; but when it is a thing which tarnishes in a month, it seems ridiculously extravagant.

We have seen very pretty and artistic cheap favors.

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Reticules made of bright cotton, or silk handkerchiefs with borders; cards painted by the artists of the family; palm-leaf fans covered with real flowers, or painted with imitation ones; sunflowers made of pasteboard, with portfolios behind them; pretty little parasols of flowers; Little Red Riding-hood, officiating as a receptacle for stray pennies; Japanese teapots, with the “cozy” made at home; little doyleys wrought with delightful designs from “Pretty Peggy,” and numberless other graceful and charming trifles.

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