The Ladies' Tea Guild

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Image from
Happy Easter! 

Friday, March 15, 2013

2nd Annual San Francisco International Tea Festival

Afternoon Tea Across America members meet up!
Photo: Elizabeth Urbach
Mr. Fong and Mr. Pratt opening the
2012 Festival.  Photo: Elizabeth Urbach

My friend and I went to the The San Francisco International Tea Festival at the Ferry Building Marketplace last Sunday.  A big highlight for me was meeting up with some of the members of the Afternoon Tea Across America e-mail group on Yahoo (see photo at left)!  We had a good time, and will probably go again next year.  The festival, open to tea lovers outside the professional tea trade, involved 16 tea vendors and various experts who offered samples of their tea and tea products, gave lectures and led tea tastings.  There were about 1,000 attendees, who received a small bag of promotional handouts, a few samples of tea, and an official tasting cup, at the festival entrance.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Mrs. Burnett's dress, part 2.

Harriet Burnett's dress,
ca. 1849
Photo: Elizabeth Urbach
Wow, I hadn't realized how long it's been since I last posted!  I've been keeping busy, though, with historical things.  Researching Harriet Burnett's governor's ball dress (see photo at left) has been really interesting.  Unfortunately, I couldn't find any period description of the dress at the ball in any of the contemporary newspapers, because San Jose didn't have its own newspaper until 1851 and the ball was in 1849.  The nearest local papers were out of Monterey and San Francisco, and relied on the mail bringing news from San Jose in order to publish the Legislative happenings.  Unfortunately, the winter of 1849 was so rainy and stormy that the roads were unusably muddy and no news could get out of or into San Jose!  It took until the end of January 1850 for the rain to let up and the roads dry out enough that the mail could get through to Monterey and San Francisco, so by that time any excitement about the ball had died down, and the papers recorded the inauguration of Governor Burnett, and mentioned, almost as an aside, "there was a ball in San Jose." 

There was no further description or mention of the event itself, although an interview with someone who was there, done many years later, and published in 1941, has the woman recalling that the ball was "the" event for the Bay Area for years afterwards.  I think the only place where I could find a fuller description of the ball, would be in the letters or journal of someone (a woman) who was there, but I don't know of any journals or letters from 1849 in San Jose that have been published, or are available to the public!  I think I'm at a dead end in verifying the provenance of the dress, so I've just made a record for it in the museum database, saying that the dress "is said to have been worn" at the Inauguration Ball.  I'll have to leave it at that for now.  It's been really fun reading all those old newspapers, though.  I found a website, the California Digital Newspaper Collection, that has scanned the papers into digital form and made them readable (you can enlarge the printing from the teeny-tiny original size!). 

Now stir the fire, and close the shutters fast,
Let fall the curtains, wheel the sofa round,
And, while the bubbling and loud-hissing urn
Throws up a steamy column, and the cups
That cheer but not inebriate, wait on each,
So let us welcome peaceful evening in.
-- William Cowper (1731-1800)
"The Winter Evening" (Book Four), _The Task_ (1784)