Sunday, February 10, 2013


Dressing a mannequin with the Fancy Dress Costume, the Infanta Margarita after Velasquez, worn to the Bradley-Martin ball in 1897 by Kate Brice, daughter of Senator Calvin S. Brice. Designed by Jean-Philippe Worth.***Miss Kate Brice was one of a few invites from the nations capital***


Mrs. Bradley Martin as Mary Queen of Scots - NGC

The Waldorf Yesterday Given up to the
Decorators and to Rehearsals
of the Dances.


All Outside Windows to be Boarded
Up—All the Spare Booms Secured
by the Guests—Arrangements
to Photograph the Costumes. The New York Times February 10, 1897

To-night will end the Bradley Martin ball agony, and everybody will have a chance to breathe and rest. But it will be a grand and dazzling affair. No doubt is expressed about that.

The Waldorf yesterday was the theatre of war from  early  in  the morning until far past midnight, and the hum of preparations will continue until 9 P. M. to-night. At that hour the floral decorators have positive orders to clear the decks, and Mr. Small says he will be ready to obey. Whole wagon loads of green vines came in platoons from the florist's all day long. As the green trimmings are not so perishable as the flowers, they were attended to first. Halls and corridors on the first and second floors were soon manned by fifty workmen under Director Merritt. They wore caps to designate their position, for great care was taken by the management to keep out people who might betray great secrets in advance.

While the trimming process  was going on at the "Waldorf, a large number of workers were engaged on garlands at the Broadway store of Small, but their labors yesterday were confined chiefly to the vines and festoons needed. They were at work all night, and begin to-day on the more elaborate festoons and garlands of roses and orchids. In addition to the 400 odd people employed here, a great army of poor folks in Alabama have been engaged in gathering clematis vines for the affair.

Flowers From all Over Hie Country

An enormous drain has been made for the flowers, not only on all the florists in this region, but on neighboring cities as well. The hunt for orchids and thousands will be required in the decoration scheme—has been prosecuted at Albany, Rochester, and several other point, while the large hothouses of Small, in Washington, D. C, have been forced to the limit, not only of orchids, but on all the floral beauties to be drafted into the service.

To give an idea of the magnitude of the decorations, the florist's force had used 35,000 of the rich galax leaves from South Carolina before midnight. Some time before daylight they were to begin with the roses. In the large ballroom the color scheme is confined to pink and green; in the small ballroom, where Mrs. Martin will receive her guests under a gorgeous canopy of tapestry and roses, the color scheme is to to pink, white, and green, while in the supper room the decorations will consist of American Beauties, a profusion of yellow roses, and a liberal display of the dainty white mimosa sprays, grown specially for this occasion. None of these delicate and perishable garlands will be in place before this afternoon.

An almost incredible amount of asparagus vine will be used in parts of the display. This is the African variety, so called, as it grows in its native state in the African jungles. Raised in hothouses, it is very costly, indeed, but the florist has carte blanche.

Doors were closed to the grand ballroom, on the first lloor, in the afternoon, and none was allowed to enter. The cause of all this caution was the presence inside of those who are to dance in the quadrille d'honneur. Prof. Marwig was there to lead. Mrs. William Astor superintended the rehearsal of her quadrille, and Mrs. Bronson presided later over quadrille d'honneur number two. All this was conducted with the greatest secrecy, but the steps were rehearsed in admirable style, and all the ladies and gentlemen felt perfectly at ease about the ordeal to-night.

No Chance for Peeping

While this was going: on the sound of hammers came from the side entrance, or alleyway, at the extreme west end of the hotel. Carpenters were engaged in boarding up  the  windows  of the  first  and second floors. If people in the adjoining house had made arrangements to oblige their friends with a free view of the ballroom spectacle, they can call back all invitations. It will be a cold and cheerless night for them. The same lock-out of lookers-on will be adopted for all the rooms that contain windows opening on the street, but, of course, with the exception of the alleyway mentioned, interior screens at the windows will be used.

Mrs. Martin has given the most rigid orders to this effect. Not only will there be no chance whatever for outsiders to get a peep at the pageant, but Manager Boldt has been directed to see that no interlopers are allowed, on any pretense. When the corps of decorators have finished their work, none but guests, maids, attendants, musicians, and waiters will be allowed to enter. No attempt will be made to furnish the attendants with any costume. Maids and waiters will appear in regulation garb. This part of the affair has been provided for by Mr. Boldt.

A most alarming story was printed yesterday morning concerning the disastrous use of Lima oil by the Waldorf servants in polishing; up the furniture. This happens to be a very crude and cheap petroleum, "whose offense is rank; it smells to heaven." It has been known to go through a five-foot wall, and sticketh closer than a brother. As a matter of fact, very little  of it had been used, by mistake, but the odor soon condemned the culprit, and there was not the faintest trace of the fiendish smell about the hotel yesterday.

Dressing at the Waldorf

As has already been announced, many of the guests have secured private rooms at the Waldorf, where they will remain from some time to-day until the great affair is all over. The reasons given by them are various. Some do not want the fret and worry of going through all the ordeals of the toilet at their homes, and then exposing themselves to a journey through the street to reach the festal scene. Others are frank enough to say that they want all the protection possible for the valuable ornaments they intend to wear, and think there can be no better security than the interior of the Waldorf. However that may be, it is certain that Mr. Boldt has disposed already of all his spare rooms for to-day and to-night.

All sorts of stories are afloat about the hairdressers and the costumers, and the efforts to curb their propensity to cut a whole lot of hay while the Bradley Martin sun shines. The regular rates charged by these refined French hairdressers for such swell functions as this is $13 per hour for services at the house. The requirements of a Louis XV. or Louis XVI. toilet are so very exacting in the matter of hair that the dressers have been piling on their charges at such a rate that some of the ladies have rebelled  and it was reported yesterday in a very faint whisper that certain artistes from Houston Street, who made enticing cut-rate proposals, would have all the heads to dress they could handle.

"My lady" will have a most arduous day of it, at any rate. What with costumers  modistes, hairdressers, and complexion builders, she will not be visible outside of her seclusion from the time she opens her eyes until her dazzling make-up bursts upon the Waldorf ballroom. And this, perhaps, is one very plausible reason for my lady engaging rooms at the hotel, where every convenience can be had at call, and where, she can secure all the privacy she desires with her attendants. In this way, too, she can escape any and all of the usual discomforts one must undergo if at home in such a soul-trying time; no callers or friends to bother with; nothing to do but be created into a Queen or Marquise without interruption.

Silk Stocks and Old Heirlooms

" It's a mighty fortunate thing for the men that all the silk-stocking girls in New York are not going to the Bradley Martin ball," was a remark made yesterday by a white-haired matron at the Waldorf, " because the amount of fine stockings the dear girls have loaned out to the male relatives and friends who are to appear in knickerbockers is something awful. I know three families myself where you couldn't find a silk stocking with a search warrant—all borrowed for the ball."

"I can believe that easily enough," was the reply of her lady companion. " I know of cases where family jewels and other finery have been drafted in the service from friends East, West, and South. You know some of the old Southern families, especially in Maryland, South Carolina, and Georgia, have very valuable gems and heirlooms that date back to Colonial days, and they managed to preserve them during the dreadful times of the war. Now some of our Four Hundred folks, in days gone by, have been on such intimate terms with their Southern friends, and have managed to entertain them so handsomely, that it comes hard to refuse when they make special requests for loans of their treasures. Some of the old Oglethorpe gems from Georgia, and the Fairfax gems from Virginia, and a lot of rare old bracelets and brooches from Savannah will figure in the Bradley Martin pageant, and go to swell Gotham's reputation for antique gems. It's just dreadful to think of the way some of these guests will flash and strut in borrowed plumage of all sorts, family heirlooms they never had the least right or title to wear in public. Why, your silk stockings, madam, are a very mild form of the disease."

The ball guests who would like to have themselves preserved in their costumes for the benefit of posterity will find all the conveniences handy, as the photographer Gilbert has equipped his studio, near the Waldorf, with a perfected system of electric light. He will be prepared to give sittings to the dames and cavaliers any time between 6 P. M. to-night and 8 o'clock on Thursday morning. This is done by request of many guests who want this souvenir of the ball, but don't want the annoyance of dressing all over again for the camera.

Merry   Stock Brokers

Stock brokers had a merry time with Mr. Di Zerega, the veteran member of the Exchange, who is to maintain the dignity of that solemn body at the Bradley Martin ball. The old gentleman, it was decided, must go as a Pirate of Penzance, and in order to represent him at the great function a series of pictures, a little on the kinetoscope order, were displayed at his seat near the Lackawanna trading post. The first picture represented him putting on his piratical regalia, the second gave his start for the festal scene, the third his arrival at the theatre of war, and the grand finale was a harrowing picture of the next morning,' labeled, "After the Ball." The old gentleman had as much fun out of it as the facetious brokers.


Some Have Been Given Up, But Many
Will Will be Held

There will not be so many dinners among the guests of the Bradley Martin ball before the late hour set for the beginning of that event to-night as seemed likely a day or two ago. Many of the ladies on the guest list have decided that to appear in costume at an early dinner and attend to the conventionalities of a separate function before the ball begins will be an uncomfortable strain on their endurance. It was said yesterday that a surprising number of the invitations sent out for the several preliminary dinners had been declined on this ground, and that many who had expected to entertain had abandoned the idea,

James A. Garland is one of the guests who had arranged to entertain a small party at a preliminary dinner to-night at his home on Madison Avenue. Owing to these inconveniences the dinner will not be given. Mr. and Mrs.  William C.  Schermerhorn, and others who had projected dinners on a somewhat elaborate scale,  have now determined to make them as informal as possible. The dinner of Mr. and Mrs. Schermerhorn will, however, be largely attended. About 100 of the Bradley Martin guests will be entertained. The ballroom will be thrown open for a reception after the dinner, and the guests, all in costume, will hold a levee before going to the Bradley Martin ball. It is expected that many of the participants in the quadrille d'honneur and leaders of the epoch and character quadrilles will be present. Among the guests at the dinner and reception will be Miss Spofford, Mr. and Mrs. Adrian Iselin, Jr., Mr. and Mrs. Geraldyn Redmond, Mr. and Mrs. Samuel W. Bridgham, Peter Marie, Mr. and Mrs. Van Alen, and Rawlins Cottenet.

To Mr. and Mrs. Schermerhorn the gathering in their home to-night will recall the bail given by them in the same house nearly forty years ago. It was a fancy dress ball of the time of Louis XV.

Mr. and Mrs. Hermann Oelrichs will give one of the most noteworthy of the ante-ball dinners at their residence, Fifth Avenue and Fifty-seventh Street. Forty guests have been invited, who will be seated at eight tables. At the reception after the dinner there will be other quests who do not expect to attend the Bradley Martin ball. The dinner guests will all be clad in their ball costumes. Arrangements have been made for elaborate floral decorations, in which roses and palms will predominate.

Other costume dinners will be given before the ball by Mrs. Astor, Mr. and Mrs. Philip Rhinelander, Mrs. Frederic Bronson, Mr. and Mrs. Walter Lispenard Suydam, Mrs. E. Livingston Ludlow, and Mr. and Mrs. Henry Parish, Jr. At the dinner of Mr. and Mrs. Bronson most of the participants in the Wateau quadrille, which Mrs. Bronson is  organizing, will be present.

***Click HERE to see a short clip produced by the National Geographic Channel about the ball. Party Like... The Rich and Famous. "Party Like"... is a series. The first episode highlighted Caligula and Marie Antoinette. Unfortunately this particular episode is not available - first two episode can be purchased at

Episode synopsis

"One of the most expensive parties in American history takes place at the recently opened Waldorf Hotel in New York City, on February 10th, 1897. This elaborate costume ball is attended by nearly 1,000 of New York's wealthiest citizens, many billionaires by today's standards, dressed in costumes celebrating European royalty. In a single night they drink their way through 4,000 bottles of the world's finest champagne, and gorge on a 25-course feast fit for a king. This one-hour special goes inside the famous Bradley-Martin Ball to learn what it takes to party like the rich and famous." NGC***


Many Rehearsals by the Participants
Under Prof. Marwig

If the grand entrance march at Mrs. Bradley Martin's ball and the subsequent exhibition dances do not run as smoothly as any ballet, it will not be for lack of rehearsals. Every day since the quadrilles were made up, in either the morning or the afternoon, the ladies have left their pleasures and the men their business to rehearse the "one, two, bend!" "one, two, bow!" of the stately minuet or the difficult step of the polonaise.

Prof. Karl Marwig, the well-known master of dancing, has been in charge of the quadrille d'honneur, which is Mrs. Astor's dance, and of Mrs. Baylies's dance, which will include a polonaise and a minuet. He is in great delight over the skill of his pupils.

" They have paid the very closest attention, " he says. "At the first they said to me, " Now, Prof. Marwig, we desire to learn this; scold us as much as you please, but teach it to us! ' There has been no difficulty. Everything has gone smoothly. Oh, that quadrille d'honneur! It will be the most magnificent thing of its kind this country has ever seen." The quadrille d'honneur has been rehearsed in the mornings at Mrs. Astor's house. The dancers are to be Mrs. Bradley Martin, Mrs. Stuyvesant Fish, Mrs. Orme Wilson, Mrs. Whitney Warren, Miss Madeline Cutting. Miss Angelica Gerry, Mrs. T. Suffern Tailer. John Jacob Astor, Lispenard Stewart, Craig Wadsworth, Harry Lehr, J. Townsend Martin, and Center Hitchcock. J. J. Van Alen also was to have taken part, but the death of a relative will prevent his attendance.

Yesterday morning there was a full rehearsal, with Victor Herbert's orchestra, at the Waldorf. In street costume, while the decorators paused to look on, they trod the graceful measures intended for trains, knee-breeches, and candlelight. The final rehearsal is set for this morning at Mrs. Astor's. The dance superintended by Mrs. Baylies, with the polonaise and minuet, was also rehearsed with the orchestra yesterday in the afternoon.


A Reminiscent of the First Fancy
Ball Given Here.

Among the guests at  the Bradley Martin ball  will be several descendants of Mr. and Mrs. Brugiere, whose fancy, ball, the first in the city, nearly sixty years ago, was described not many days since in The New York Times. There are a number of du Vivier and Montant cousins in society, who are children and grandchildren of Mrs. Brugiere's three daughters, and it has been suggested that a quadrille danced by members of that house might be an interesting feature of the ball two generations later.***Mrs Emil Brugiere(Josephine Sather) owned "Castlewood" in Newport, RI.*** 

Mrs. Auguste P. Montant is to be one of the guests. Miss Nathalie du Vivier is to wear a Merveilleuse costume of the Directoire period. Miss Louise du Vivier will be an Acadian Evangeline. Mr. Charles L. du Vivier will appear as a Louis XVI. courtier, and Mr. George du Vivier will have the Court dress of d'Artagnan, in " Les Trois Mosquetaires."

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