Long before there were online dating sites, such as eHarmony, Match or OKCupid, there was a curious offline custom in America known as New Year’s Calling.
In the 19th century, young single women in New York City; Washington, D.C., and other cities and towns across the country would hold open houses on Jan. 1 and invite eligible bachelors — friends and strangers — to stop by for a brief visit and some light refreshments.
Often the women posted ads — which included their names, addresses and visiting hours — in the local newspaper. This was community wide speed dating.
Curatorial consultant Steph McGrath, who studied New Year’s Calling when she was at the DuPage County Historical Museum in Illinois, says she is not sure which sections of society participated in the convention, “though you’d think maybe the upper classes would set the style, rather than need a printed guidebook.”
True. But for whoever needed guidance, there was Hill’s Manual of Social and Business Forms, a compendium of knowledge and etiquette.
As the 1888 edition observed, the ritual of New Year’s Calling “enables gentlemen to know positively who will be prepared to receive them on that occasion.”
By convention, male visitors were invited into the house. If the woman wanted the man to stay for a while, she could ask him to remove his hat and coat.
Otherwise, she was to offer refreshments and conversation while he remained dressed for the cold. “The call should not exceed 10 or 15 minutes,” the manual insisted, “unless the callers are few and it should be agreeable to prolong the stay.”
A lady was encouraged by societal rules to accept male visitors in the privacy of her home. But shy types could also gather — and welcome men — in a group. The women were encouraged to “present themselves in full dress” and make sure to have a crackling fire in the fireplace.
Suggested refreshments included breads, cakes, fruits — along with tea and coffee.
“No intoxicating drinks should be allowed,” the manual stated.
Gentlemen — singly or in manageable groups — were encouraged to pay a visit at some time between 10 a.m. and 9 p.m. on the first day of the year.
Each man was expected to present each woman he met with a calling card.
In the days following New Year’s, it was customary for women to go see other women and to advise each other all the juicy information they had gleaned from the parade of gentlemen callers. Somethings never change.
Selection from Eugène von Guérard’s Australian landscapes:
Guérard, 17 November 1811 – 17 April 1901 was an Austrian-born artist, active in Australia from 1852 until 1882.
Known for his finely detailed landscapes in the tradition of the Düsseldorf school of painting, he is represented in Australia’s major public galleries, and is referred to in the country as Eugene von Guerard.
A series of 24 tinted lithographs illustrative of the most striking and picturesque features of the landscape scenery of Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia and Tasmania, printed and published by Hamel & Ferguson in 1867.
From 1966 to 1971, an unprecedented quantity of extraordinary graphic art was produced in the San Francisco Bay Area.
This resulted from the demand for posters, handbills, and flyers advertising rock concerts and dances in some of the city’s oldest ballrooms, most decrepit sports arenas, and sweatiest dives.
The two main patrons of this proliferation of posters were Bill Graham—who promoted concerts at the Fillmore Auditorium, Winterland, and a dance hall he renamed the Fillmore West—and Chet Helms—the charismatic, if less business savvy, leader of an organization called the Family Dog, which produced concerts at the Avalon Ballroom, among other venues.
The “Big Five” poster artists of the San Francisco music scene, c. 1967. From left to right, Alton Kelley, Victor Moscoso, Rick Griffin, Wes Wilson, Stanley Mouse. Photograph by Bob Seidemann.
A handful of San Francisco artists were ready for this poster renaissance, which flowered from the Trips Festival at Longshoremen’s Hall in January of 1966 until the closing of the Fillmore West in the summer of 1971.
During those five-and-a-half years, these artists were often inspired by Art Nouveau masters such as Alphonse Mucha and Alfred Roller, whose blocky lettering was made psychedelic by Wes Wilson.
Alton Kelley and Stanley Mouse were drawn to Art Nouveau, too, but also to advertising art and appropriated images, giving their collaborations a look that was at once in sync with and outside the Pop Art currents of 1960s contemporary art.
Mouse and a Southern California artist named Rick Griffin were also infatuated with the artwork that grew out of hot-rod car culture.
Victor Moscoso, on the other hand, turned the traditional art-making orthodoxies he had learned as an art student on their collective ear, creating posters that nearly vibrated before the viewer’s eyes.
The London Pavilion Theatre opened on 30 November 1885.
It was the first music hall deluxe with marble-topped tables
According to Charles Stuart and A.J. Park in The Variety Stage (1895) the rebuilding signalled a new era of variety theatre:
Hitherto the halls had borne unmistakable evidence of their origins, but the last vestiges of their old connections were now thrown aside, and they emerged in all the splendour of their new-born glory.
The highest efforts of the architect, the designer and the decorator were enlisted in their service, and the gaudy and tawdry music hall of the past gave way to the resplendent ‘theatre of varieties’ of the present day, with its classic exterior of marble and freestone, its lavishly appointed auditorium and its elegant and luxurious foyers and promenades brilliantly illuminated by myriad electric lights.
Thurston Hopkins was one of Britain’s greatest photojournalists and part of the golden age of reportage.
Working for Picture Post he captured the humanity, spirit and social inequality and contradictions of life in 1950s Britain.
One of the first essays by Hopkins published in Picture Post was his ‘Cats of London’ (Feb 1951 edition), almost certainly suggested by the many cats he met while walking around the streets of London on other assignments.
The blitz had made many cats homeless, and these strays had often established themselves in the bombsites, living and breeding more or less wild on the scraps the could find and that friendly neighbours put out from them.
Even cats who still enjoyed good homes would spend much of their time on the streets; the cat flap was as yet unknown and every cat owner still ‘put the cat out’ as part of the ritual of retiring for the night.
City cats were still street cats first and home cats when it pleased them.
Hopkins started to collect pictures of these cats on the street, attracting them with a little food, and it made an interesting if not profound story