Favours and Carnival Novelties
At special events throughout history there has always been the desire to augment festivities with novelties of all kinds, especially at special occasions like New Year and weddings. Toward the end of the 19th century as dances, balls, galas and the new concept of the smart restaurant proliferated on both sides of the Atlantic, special nights were introduced where a wide range of gifts or carnival novelties were given away as souvenirs to make the night special and stand out. Later, these ‘favours’ became indicative of the madcap nocturnal fun and frolics of the Jazz Age and the 1920s.
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The bizarre tale of Mrs Smith Wilkinson
Described variously as ‘The Countess of Monte Cristo’, ‘The Queen of Diamonds’ and ‘Madame Aladdin’, Mrs Smith Wilkinson can be seen as a society con-artist and one of the first wannabe celebrities. She made a rather big splash in Paris in the summer of 1921 causing much debate and gossip in the press thereafter. Whatever was all the fuss about?
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