Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Property of Mr. Oscar

New York City,
1906


This manuscript account book bearing a typed label reading “Property of Mr. Oscar” recently came to market. The 300-page volume is written in the hand of Oscar Tschirky, the famed maître ďhôtel at the Waldorf-Astoria. It contains the particulars of private events at the hotel from mid-December 1905 to mid-May 1906, including the date, organization, number of guests, bill of fare, and cost. The manner in which the name is expressed on the cover and its worn condition indicates the culinary staff may have referred to it as part of their daily routine. My first step in processing this wealth of social information was simply to compare the entries for two dinners with menus already in the collection.