Tea Tables a Hundred Years Ago

19-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Tuesday, October 6, 1914: <<no entry>>

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Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Since Grandma didn’t write anything a hundred years ago today, I thought that you might enjoy seeing some pictures in the July, 1914 issue of Ladies Home Journal of  set tea tables.

Afternoon tea is now such a well-established custom that many people would as soon think of going without their luncheon as of omitting their tea.

Having afternoon teas is a pretty custom, for they mean informal gatherings of friends, and hospitality that is easy to show.1914-07-21 b

In fact an afternoon tea is one of the simplest and most delightful ways of entertaining a few persons, and they should be few, for the charm is lost when there is a crowd.

The table may be made beautiful. Every dainty touch adds so much to its attractiveness, and such a table is an expression of the taste and individuality of a thoughtful hostess.

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An aside—Does anyone set tea tables anymore?

31 thoughts on “Tea Tables a Hundred Years Ago

  1. High days and holidays I think. At school we were given embroidery of tea cloths as Projects .. To hone our skills on drawn thread and other such techniques. I think perhaps women entering into full time employment sadly sounded the death knell for afternoon tea.

  2. Lovely post. So nostalgic in ways. My late mother set tea tables the odd time so they aren’t a too distant memory. I may revive the practice after seeing these pics!

  3. I’d love to have the first table with the shelf underneath. Unfortunately, I’ve never set a tea table.

  4. I love how tea was a special, proper event! I am a tea drinker – but not nearly as elaborate! Though I will brew tea using the tea leaves. That is when tea is at its best.

  5. I love that pedestal table!
    I used to love pushing the tea cart around my grandmother’s home (my grandfather was a Brit and tea time was a tradition)

    1. Your comment reminds me of a child’s china tea set that I had when I was a kid. I remember being so careful when I played with it because I didn’t want to break any of the cups or saucers.

  6. I drink tea but I’ve never had a tea time. One of my daughters talked about having a tea party for her birthday. This article makes me want to make some little cakes and cookies and invite people over for tea.

    1. The quote in the old magazine article about tea being one of the simplest and most delightful ways of entertaining a few persons also make me think that it might be fun to invite some friends over for tea sometime.

  7. Do you mind? I want to leave you a comment on the Apple Upside down skillet cake. I made it for company. They were amazed. They think I am a genius. Thanks Sheryl for posting and making me look GREAT!

  8. I remember my mother always wanted a tea wagon — never did get one. Also, she belonged to a ladies club in the church that used to meet in homes. Ladies would set up card tables with pretty tablecloths and napkins and china tea cups and saucers, with dainty refreshments. And the cloths pictured — embroidered, crocheted. When I was little I used to be with my mother at some of these gatherings — always busy with crocheting or embroidering. At one point I had a suit box full of such dainty things I had made. I wish I knew what happened to it.

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