Once Upon a Time…07.25.2015

Posted on March 31st, 2015 by

The Baltimore Jewish Times publishes unidentified photographs from the collection of Jewish Museum of Maryland each week. If you can identify anyone in these photos and more information about them, contact Joanna Church at 410.732.6400 x236 or email jchurch@jewishmuseummd.org

 

2011078061Date run in Baltimore Jewish Times:  July 25, 2014

 

PastPerfect Accession #: 2011.078.061

 

Status:  Unidentified! Do you know anything about this Beth Shalom Congregation of Carroll County photo?

 

 

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A Serving Spoon, Early 20th Century

Posted on March 30th, 2015 by

Even a butler has his favorites, and so too an honest Collections Manager.  In my case, I have too many a lot of ‘favorite’ artifact types, but I do have a particular fondness for elaborate serving utensils: pickle forks, grapefruit spoons, bon-bon servers, fish slices… they’re so delightfully specific.

1992.219.9

Take, for example, this sterling silver spoon, made by Jenkins & Jenkins of Baltimore in the early 20th century. Though the form resembles that of other utensils, its scalloped bowl is broader than a sugar shell, and it lacks the holes and slots of a tomato server: thus, it’s almost certainly a berry spoon.  Nonetheless, to the untutored – i.e., many of us in today’s hey-grab-me-a-plastic-spork world – it’s simply a fancy serving spoon, which could be put to many uses. To our better-mannered (or at least, more thoroughly trained) predecessors, however, it had a definite and correct use: serving berries.  (Not eating said berries, though – there are, of course, special forks for that.)

One needn’t be wealthy to achieve an elegant table. This boxed “berry set” was available from Sears, Roebuck & Co. in the 1897 catalog, for $2.90 (approximately $81 in today’s money).

One needn’t be wealthy to achieve an elegant table. This boxed “berry set” was available from Sears, Roebuck & Co. in the 1897 catalog, for $2.90 (approximately $81 in today’s money).

This spoon’s owner, Fannie Wiesenfeld Friedman (1874-1967), would have put it to its proper use. The repousee-style handle – very popular in early 20th century Baltimore – is engraved FW.  The use of her maiden initial suggests this was part of a wedding gift or trousseau purchase.  A woman planning to set up her own household would need the correct dishes and flatware, in anticipation of entertaining friends, family, neighbors, her husband’s business associates, or anyone else who should be served in the best style.

Close-up of the handle reverse, featuring the engraved initials FW.

Close-up of the handle reverse, featuring the engraved initials FW.

JoannaA blog post by Collections Manager Joanna Church. To read more posts from Joanna click HERE.

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From “A Woman’s Thoughts” to “Welcoming the Ladies” – A Few Thoughts for the End of Women’s History Month

Posted on March 25th, 2015 by

When you’re researching in our (or any museum’s) collections, intriguing artifacts often lead you to other intriguing artifacts. Our book collection includes this title that caught my eye while scanning spines: A Woman’s Thoughts About Women. It’s an 1864 edition of an 1858 essay, with one of those discreet Victorian “By the Author of…” attributions. As the title suggests, it was written by a woman: British novelist Dinah Maria Mulock Craik (1826-1887). The book falls into the popular advice genre, but is aimed at improving the lives of independent, single women, rather than the usual audience of housewives or fine ladies (and their servants). At the time of publication, the author was still Miss Mulock, not yet Mrs. Craik.

Donated by Robert S. Zetzer. JMM# 1998.86.100

Donated by Robert S. Zetzer. JMM# 1998.86.100

Why does the Jewish Museum have this fine work? The inside cover includes the bookplate of a local woman, lawyer Rose S. Zetzer (1904-1998). I’m still learning the personalities in our collections, so I went to the database to look for more information.

 bookplate

bookplate

Ms. Zetzer was born in Baltimore to Jacob and Baila Zetzer, Russian immigrants. In 1925 she graduated from the University of Maryland law school (where a fellowship is named in her honor), but had difficulty finding a job in the male-dominated field. So in 1940, she joined forces with Anna Carton, and they went ahead and formed the first all-female law firm in Maryland.  Their offices were in the Munsey Building at Calvert and Fayette Streets, Baltimore. In our Zetzer collection we have this small poster printed by the owners, “welcoming the ladies” to the building:

Donated by Robert S. Zetzer. JMM# 1998.86.84b

Donated by Robert S. Zetzer. JMM# 1998.86.84b

Like all good artifacts, these two pieces raise questions the more you think about them.  Did Mrs. Craik’s essay have a particular meaning for Rose Zetzer, or did she regard it as an historical novelty, amusingly related (or not) to her own life and career?  Why did the ladies choose the Munsey Building – and were the landlords really all that ‘welcoming’? We know a fair amount about Ms. Zetzer’s career (read a little more about her life here and here, but in lists of impressive Firsts and Onlys, the smaller, everyday details of a person’s life can be lost.  Items like these two, which might be considered little more than ephemera, can help bring those details back to life – even if only as a spark to the imagination.

JoannaA blog post by Collections Manager Joanna Church. To read more posts from Joanna click HERE.

 

 

 

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




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