Send me an E-mail
(Please, no questions
 about value.)

Instructions for sending photographs of your pieces with your question.

Who was the person credited with the concept of a world's fair?

Queen Victoria
Robert Moses
Prince Albert
                     To see the answer

World's Fair
by E.L. Doctorow

This novel tells the story of Edgar Altshuler, a 9-year-old boy from the Bronx, and his adventures at the 1939 New York World’s Fair. On his first visit to the fair, Edgar is enthralled by industry's vision of the futuresafe, secure and prosperous cities, speedy and cheap transportation and modern invention to make life easier. On his second visit, he sees that the exhibits are constructed of gypsum whose paint is peeling and that the displays are really toys.
More Books


1964 NY World's Fair

Travel back in time to the 1964 New York World's Fair and take a tour of the fairgrounds. Though not sanctioned by the World's Fair Committee, it was still a spectacular exposition.
And look for other videos in selected articles.

Have Bob speak
 on antiques to your group or organization.

More Information

Can't find what
 you're looking for?

Go to our Sitemap

Find out what's coming in the
2020 Fall Edition

of the

"A Look at Retro"


Share pages of this ezine with your friends using the buttons provided with each article.

Download our
Decorative Periods and Styles Chart

Read our newest glossary:

Antique Furniture Terminology
 from A to Z

courtesy of AntiquesWorldUK

Videos have
come to

The Antiques

Expand your antiques experience.

Look for videos
in various

Just click on the
arrow to play.

Featured Antique

1939 NY World's Fair Snowglobe

 The Origin of Afternoon Tea
by Bob Brooke


It’s 4:00 P.M. and Anna Maria, the seventh Duchess of Bedford of Woburn Abbey in Bedforshire, England, has just rung for her upstairs maid, requesting that she bring a tray of tea, bread and sweet butter, and cakes to her bedroom. She found this late afternoon tea such a perfect refreshment that she soon started inviting her friends to join her in her room for this new social event. And it really was more of a social event than a meal as ladies didn’t go to afternoon tea to eat but to meet their friends, gossip, chat about the latest fashions and scandals, be seen in the right places among the right people. Drinking tea and eating biscuits became almost an afterthought.

What caused Anna Maria’s hunger at this time of day? As it happened, people gradually started eating dinner later in the 18th century as improvements in lighting extended the day. By the early 19th century, dinner time had progressed to between 7.00 and 8.30 P.M., so people began eating an extra meal called luncheon to fill gap. But since this meal was very light, the long afternoon with no refreshment left many feeling a bit peekid.

By the early 1800s, the custom of entertaining friends at afternoon tea had evolved into an elegant occasion with tea, hot dishes, and elaborate sweets served by butlers and maids. The ladies no longer came in everyday wear but dressed in long “tea gowns” and drank tea from delicate porcelain cups.

Domestic writers of books on etiquette and domestic household manuals, such as Hints and Household Taste by Charles Eastlake, prescribed suggested behavior for both hostesses and guests. According to a book called Etiquette by Agnes Morton, published in 1894, women were to “meet informally, chatting for a while over a sociable cup of tea, each group giving place to others, none crowding, all at ease, every one the recipient of a gracious welcome from the hostess.” Morton recommended that guests stay no longer than 45 minutes though afternoon tea often lasted nearly two hours.

Drinking tea wasn’t foreign to the British when Anna Maria set her precedent. They began drinking tea in the mid-17th century. At the time, both the leaves and the brewed beverage were very expensive, so it became the drink of the aristocracy. While wealthy gentlemen drank their tea in London's coffee houses, their wives drank theirs at home with their friends.

Because the tea itself was so expensive, the servants weren’t allowed to handle it and the lady of the house kept it in blue and white Chinese jars locked in a closet alongside the tea bowls and pots. When she wanted to serve tea to her friends, a servant would arrange the furniture, set all the tea brewing equipment on a small table and bring in a kettle of boiling water. Then the lady warmed the teapot, measured the correct amount from her tea jar into the pot and poured on the boiling water. When the tea had brewed, she poured it into the little translucent, handleless, Chinese tea bowls and served them to her guests.

The ships that brought the precious tea from China and Japan also carried porcelain tea pots, tea bowls, and the little jars for storing the tea. Aristocratic ladies stored these on shelves in their private closets, usually a small room near or next to their bedrooms.

Traditionally, ladies served tea with milk and sugar, accompanied by an assortment of cucumber, egg and cress, fish paste, ham, and smoked salmon sandwiches on bread without crust, scones with butter, clotted cream and jam, and fruit cake or Victoria sponge cake served from a tiered silver stand.

By the mid-19th century, afternoon tea had become fashionable in America though the tea parties given by American hostesses may not have been as formal as those in Britain

Taking tea was always associated with elegant rooms set well away from the kitchen, with fine porcelain tea wares, silver spoons, sugar nippers, and kettles, with beautiful tables carved by craftsmen.

Once the trend had been set, members of fashionable society started to hold tea parties to suit almost any occasion—drawing room teas for groups of 10 or 20, intimate teas for three or four friends, garden teas, after-theater teas, and tea receptions for up to 200 people.

While afternoon tea used to be an everyday event, nowadays it is more likely to be taken as a treat in a hotel, café, or tea shop, although many Britons still have a cup of tea and slice of cake or chocolate at teatime.

< Back to More Back in Time                                              Next Article >

Antiques Q&A

Antiques and More on

The Antiques Almanac on Facebook

No antiques or collectibles
are sold on this site.

How to Recognize and Refinish Antiques for Pleasure and Profit

Book: How to Recognizing and Refinishing Antiques for Pleasure and Profit
Have you ever bought an antique or collectible that was less than perfect and needed some TLC? Bob's new book offers tips and step-by- step instructions for simple maintenance and restoration of common antiques.

Read an Excerpt

Auction News
Get up to the minute news of antiques auctions around the country and the world.

Also see
The Auction Directory

Antiques News
Read breaking news stories from the world of antiques and collectibles.

Art Exhibitions
Search for art exhibitions in museums and galleries around the world.

Home | About This Site | Antiques | Collectibles | Antique Tips | Book Shop | Antique Trivia | Antique Spotlight | Antiques News  Special Features | Caring for Your Collections | Collecting | Readers Ask | Antiques Glossaries | Resources | Contact
Copyright ©2007-2019 by Bob Brooke Communications
Site design and development by BBC Web Services