Formal Dinner… on Horseback

How would you celebrate the opening of your stables? A dinner, perhaps? Here is how Cornelius Kingsley Garrison Billings, an American industrialist tycoon, philanthropist, and a noted horseman and horse breeder did it. On March 28, 1903, he gave a lavish 14-course dinner for a small select group of people, namely thirty-five members of the…

Mamie Fish – the “Fun-Maker” of the Gilded Age

    “Can I get something for your throat, dear?” – inquired Mr. Stuyvesant Fish. His wife retorted: “Yes, this diamond and pearl necklace I saw today at Tiffany’s.” The most irreverent broad of the Gilded Age, Marion (“Mamie”) Fish did not shine with beauty. Nore with education. Heavyset, stern, barely literate, and often quite…

Mrs. Astor and “The Four Hundred”

The winter social season in Gilded Age New York, which lasted from October until Easter, was a whirlwind of frantic activity that included dinner parties, luncheons, receptions, opera performances, and, of course, balls. The single most important event of the season was indisputably Mrs. Astor’s annual ball, which always took place on a Monday in…