Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Russian Revolution

St. Petersburg, Archangel & Vladivostok
1912-1918


One of the most intriguing aspects of ephemera is that it provides unwitting historical evidence of long-forgotten events, such as three scarce menus from the time of the Russian Revolution.   Interestingly, these menus were saved by those who found themselves on the losing side of the conflict—Russia’s ill-fated bourgeoisie; foreign intelligence officers;  and the United States Army that was sent to fight the “Red” Bolsheviks.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Butter Wars

New York City, 
1880


When five members of a congressional subcommittee came to New York City in April 1880 to inspect the new factory of the Commercial Manufacturing Company, the firm rolled out the red carpet, hosting a dinner at Delmonico’s in honor of their visit. The menus, printed on satin of various colors, were typical for a grand banquet of the Gilded Age. What is unusual about the menu shown below is what it doesn’t say—golden blocks of margarine were placed on the table to accompany the meal. And what is more, the low-cost butter substitute was reportedly used to prepare these classic French dishes.