Dinner bell


William Bogert & Co. ( American, 1866 - 1881 )

c. 1860–1870
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General Description

During the mid-19th century, most Americans served dinner in the traditional English fashion, wherein serving dishes and platters were placed on the table, then passed by the guests. Beginning in the 1860s, however, Americans increasingly adopted the Russian fashion, known as service à la russe, in which the meal was divided into courses served individually to the guests by servants. The hostess of a formal dinner would ring a dinner bell, like this Neoclassical example by William Bogert & Co., to signal the servants to present the next course. In addition, the new _service à la russe _style eliminated serving dishes and platters from the table and thus provided space for further ornamentation, such as centerpieces, candelabra, and vases. It is possible that this bell was included in a extensive dinner service, because the figure of Ceres, the Greek goddess of agriculture, also appears on a large centerpiece produced by the New York firm.

Adapted from

Charles L. Venable, Silver in America, 1840-1940: A Century of Splendor (Dallas, Texas: Dallas Museum of Art; New York, New York; Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1994), 130, 135, 338.

Web Resources

Metropolitan Museum of Art
Read more about Nineteenth-Century American Silver.