Saturday, February 9, 2013

THE BRADLEY MARTIN BALL A Wealth of Heirlooms, in Antique Jewels and Rare Old Laces, to be Shown.


A Wealth of Heirlooms, in Antique Jewels and Rare Old Laces, to be Shown.


Dealers' Stocks and Household Stores Ransacked and Exhausted to Supply the Demand for Ornaments and Historical Accuracy. The New York Times - February 9, 1897

There is no estimating the value of the rare old jewels to be worn at the Bradley Martin ball.   All the jewelers who deal in antiques say they have been cleaned out of all they had on hand, and people still keep calling for old buckles, snuff boxes, lorgnettes, diamond or pearl studded girdles, rings, and, in fact, every conceivable decoration in gems.

One lady bought a rich old-fashioned ring of great value, the setting being in imitation of a rosebush, the stem, flower, and leaves being in emerald and rubies, with diamonds and sapphires around the outer edge as a frame. It was warranted 150 years old. A superb golden snuff box, richly engraved, a gift of King William IV. of Prussia to a favorite artist, which had found its way at last into a dealer's hands, was also sold. Old seals and fobs, if quaint and heavy in design, have all been gathered in, until now the market is practically gleaned of jeweled antiques. Pawnshops, too, have been ransacked, and many is the gem of unknown history that will figure in the radiant display at the Bradley Martin ball.

All this, of course, is outside of the costly jewels held as heirlooms by the old families of New York. These have been taken from safety vaults and furbished up for the occasion in such quantities that the spectator will be puzzled to know where they all came from. Some have had no chance to flash their brilliant hues for many a year, or at least, were not called into action; but the spirit of rivalry in the display of these gems has become so ;very intense in the fashionable set at this time that treasures seldom seen and almost never worn in public will grace the great occasion. It is within bounds to say that the fortunes in precious stones displayed at the ball will far exceed any array ever seen in New York- For many days the jewelers have been overtaxed with work in brightening up these antiques.

It has been said that some of the guests were rather timid about exposing their treasures, and had taken the precaution to remove their diamonds and put Rhinestones in their places.   But they laugh at this rumor at Tiffany's. " It is ridiculous to suppose" said one of the head gentlemen there, " that the quality of people who have these rare and costly gems would never think of attending such, a historic function in sham ornaments. Don't you believe a word of it. So far as we are concerned, we never set bogus jewels at all, and we certainly have not been asked to substitute Rhinestones by any of Mrs. Martin's intended guests. People who are accustomed to these costly things are not afraid to use and display them. They are not like the actresses, who are on nettles all the time for fear their gems will not be stolen, I venture to say that not a single Rhinestone will appear in the ballroom that night."

A Wealth, of Old Lace.

 And the laces! It would be equally impossible to fix any value to the rare old specimens to be worn at the ball. Laces that have been locked away in family chests or in safe deposit vaults for long years have been dragged forth tenderly and reverently and drafted into the service of display. Many of them are yellow with age and so old as to be almost dropping to pieces.

There is not a bit of old lace to be had at any of the leading dry goods stores for love or money.   Those who deal in antiques have not only been drained dry of the stock they had on hand, but of such as they have been able to import in a hurry. One of the largest lace houses, having buyers abroad, began to gather in old specimens as soon as the coming ball was announced. Orders were sent by cable. Their agent in France secured several rich pieces of very old Venetian lace, and they were sold before they left Paris. Price is no object. The last consignment from abroad was received by this house yesterday, and now they can only offer customers line lace, say $70 and $80 a yard, but not having the distinction of age.***That would be over $2,000 a yard in 2013***

As a sample of the wealth in laces that will be seen there, a salesman told of one gentleman who will have a yard of very costly old Venetian in the cuffs of each wrist and another yard in a jarbeau(?). One of the ladies brought in four youthful pages to be furnished with lace. They are to carry her train on the great occasion. It will be six yards long.

" It is usually a point of honor not to clean laces," said this salesman, " but it must be done under certain conditions, when they acquire the color of iron rust, and it is a very dainty and difficult job. Yes, it is done here, chiefly by old Welsh women, who have been trained to it. I could mention one in this city who has made a snug fortune at this only. You can imagine what care must be exercised in handling these delicate fabrics when you hear that they are never entrusted to firms or to cleaners who are not able to pay their full value if damaged.

"It is really impossible," he added, "to put any commercial value on these antique laces. I have seen some specimens that could be duplicated in pattern and texture for $50 a yard, and yet you couldn't buy them for $500 a yard. If old families that have these treasures become reduced in fortune their laces are about the last things to go, for a woman's heart is simply broken when she sees these cherished heirlooms in the hands of strangers. For that reason, old lace lias a purely fictitious value, and it would be very hard for an expert to fix an estimate on the pieces that will be worn at the ball. I am confident, though, that many of the ladies will have thousands of dollars in laces alone. The Empress Eugenie lace, bought at her sale, will be displayed, and there is a good deal of it in New York, It is all extremely rich and rare. But I know of some old pieces to be worn on that night that have not appeared in public for half a century. Think of that; some of them 200 years old."

Some   Problems   Which   Are Causing
More Tribulation.

Gentlemen of the Four Hundred circle' have all kinds of trouble on their hands, and more of it to come. To begin with, the costumers' edict has gone forth that all gentlemen who intend to appear in a Louis Quatorze outfit must begin by turning a barber loose on their mustaches, with plenipotentiary powers to remove them to the last hair. This is absolutely demanded, they say, with any male costume of that period, or the reign just before it, the ones chiefly selected by the gentlemen guests. The younger society element, whose possessions above the upper lip are not luxuriant, have been willing enough to make the small sacrifice required, but the beaus of middle or ripe age, whose pious care for years has been lavished fondly on these hirsute ornaments, grow pale and sick at the thought of parting with their priceless treasures.

Many of them, in fact, have taken a bold and defiant stand.  They have refused, point blank, to comply with the barbaric demands of antique fashion, and allow the cultivated growth of years to be sacrificed  for one  evening's  display. At least a score of them remained obdurate yesterday on that point, and the air around Hermann's(barber?) was sulphurous with adjectives thrown back and forth between costumer and customers. They insist that they and their mustaches will die together, and so it may be expected that history will be grossly outraged in this respect.

Trouble No. 2 is of a rather more delicate nature, as it will unmask delusions about the anatomy of certain gentlemen's legs. As a rule, it is an easy matter in these days to disguise any defects of this kind, but it can't be done at all, so the costumers say, with those extremely delicate and dainty silk tights, which the modern cavaliers must wear. All sorts of devices have been attempted, even down to the buckram-covered pads that Ward McAllister used to affect, but they will not work, and much lamentation is abroad in the social world thereat.  Any manufactured legs will be palpable at sight, but the raw material would be more horrible still. Many of the cavaliers have not yet finished losing sleep over this problem.

Speaking of the gentlemen's regalia, it is a curious fact, indeed, that the famous American characters who belong within the specified periods are almost totally ignored. Only two George Washington's are on the entire list, and yet that Continental and Revolutionary costume was extremely picturesque, and might be made effective with " Light Horse Harry" or Paul Jones, or Gen. Putnam, or Gen. Stark, all American heroes of approved courage.

 Or, if men of peace are preferred, there is Franklin in his velvet Quaker garb, with the possibility  of  putting fortune into the lace worn at the cuffs and shirt front. Then, there are Jay or Rush, in the elegant Court costumes they wore at Versailles. Going back further, why not Miles Standish, who thought he could win the fair Priscilla by proxy? Or, if something foreign must be had, what more ornate and rich than the uniform of the French Admiral, d'Estaing?

Costumers and modistes have announced that no more orders will be received. They have an army of men and women working night and day, as it is, and some of the costumes will be finished only on the last tap of the drum. The poor needlewomen have a worn and haggard look, while the costumers themselves fear that treason will totter on its perch, before their jobs are safely over.

Many of the guests who will wear tempting fortunes in jewels and laces at the ball, have engaged private rooms at the Waldorf, where their preparations can all be made. From these they can proceed to the ballroom, and return to them again without leaving the building and exposing themselves on the street. This is not done through any feeling of fear, but simply that they look upon it as a wise precaution to guard against passing- through such enormous crowds of curiosity seekers as will certainly be in all the streets adjoining the Waldorf that night. One lady, who expects to wear a fortune in old and very delicate lace, has adopted this plan to secure it against being torn in the crowd, so she says.

While it is to be supposed that the greater part of those who attend the ball have their own equipages, still the cab companies are making preparations for a rush on that night, and a large number of turnouts will be held in reserve for late calls.


Disquieting:   Rumor   About Tulips
Which Is Denied.

It was reported yesterday that trouble had broken out in a new and unexpected quarter. The story went that some excavator, more daring than the rest, while digging among the debris of fashionable life of the past centuries, hit upon the forgotten fact that the French court under Louis XV. had contracted a mania for Dutch tulips; that no social function which represented the styles of that period would be at all complete without a profusion of these Holland glories.

The rumor went on to say that a sudden demand for tulips had sprung up at this eleventh hour, which the florists were not able to meet with all their hot-house forcing; that ladies meant to wear immense corsage bouquets of tulips, and that poor Small, the florist in charge of decorations, was on the verge of paresis because he had not figured on the tulip at all in his floral scheme.

When this harrowing report was run down it was found decidedly flimsy. The fact is that tulips have sprung into sudden demand for table and vase ornaments, and florists sell all they can possibly obtain. But there is no truth in their probable use at the Bradley Martin ball for corsage bouquets. They are too heavy and ungraceful.

"That tulip yarn is absurd" said Florist Small.   "The tulip never had any standing in  court among  the  French,   though the Germans held it in such mad reverence that one Prussian King offered a reward of 1,000 guldens for a black tulip. That, however, was back in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, and it never reached France at all. Take any picture of the Louis Quatorze or Louis Quinz periods, which we have followed in our decoration scheme, and not a tulip is to be seen; only garlands of roses and other well-known flowers interlaced; no set pieces whatever. Ridiculous to think of tulips in a corsage bouquet! You'll not see a single tulip in the ballroom that night, I venture to say. We shall certainly not use any in the decorations, for they are not historically applicable to French society at any period."

But a war of the roses is on, anyhow. Some of the Broadway florists become humorous when they talk of the proposed decorations being in harmony with the floral facts of these French epochs. " To begin with," one of them said, " they never saw any of our huge roses in their day, because they hadn't learned how to cultivate them.Their rose was the simple, sweet  old-fashioned rose to be seen yet in our country gardens. Their other flowers were hyacinths, dahlias, and lilies, chiefly. Of course the American Beauty will be used on this occasion, because it is grand and costly, but a greater anachronism could not well be imagined. And the same can be said of all the superb hot-house favorites so familiar to-day. Some of the ladies appreciate this fact, and have made efforts to obtain the sort of roses then seen in France. They are hard to get at this season of the year, but they are what the occasion calls  for, if history is to be duplicated in flowers as well as dress."

The Waldorf decorations  will be commenced this morning by A. W. Merritt, the artist who manages these affairs for Small. He has had abundant experience, and was responsible for the famous floral triumphs at Mrs. Vanderbilt's great ball of 1883. The work, will go on continuously until almost the moment for the festivities to begin.

Click HERE to read yesterdays news. HERE to choose your costume - or would you refrain from going, being influenced by Dr. Rainsford words???

No comments:

Post a Comment