This section is from the book "The Steward's Handbook And Guide To Party Catering", by Jessup Whitehead. Also available from Amazon: Larousse Gastronomique.
" A few years ago the dinner set signified every piece used upon the table from the soup set to the after dinner coffees, but fashion has changed all this and the different courses are much more effective served with dishes contrasting in color and ornamentation. Very little extra expense is involved in this change, as some of the china or porcelain fish sets, soup, game or oyster sets, with neat dessert and fruit sets of the most artistic shape and decoration, can be had at a very small price compared with that of a complete set a few years ago. Oyster sets are really not essential, yet it is very nice to have them. The half dozen oysters may be served upon any dinner plate with a bit of lemon in the center and should be upon the table when dinner is announced. A handsome soup set adds much to the table, but fish may be senred upon any dining plate that can be heated. A fish set showing designs of salmon or trout strung upon hooks or in the meshes of a net or from a forked stick is certainly not a very appetizing sight. The potato dish should be in harmony with the fish service, whether it be plain or decorative. Glass dishes may be used for olives, pickles or cucumber salad, which is very nice served with fish.
These may remain on the table during the entire dinner.
"Meats should not be served on plates fancifully painted, a border only being in better effect. Dinner plates, meat platter and vegetable dishes should be alike, and although the coffee cups must be the same size or shape, they may exhibit different colors and ornamentations. Haviland porcelain is among the elegant table ware, and its value is according to the decorations, which are from the finest landscape painting to the quaintest genre. Minton china shows a white ground with floria-tions v ined and edged with gold. The Danish porcelain, which is especially adapted to dessert sets, shows the edges open. The low, wide amber glass finger bowls are fashionable and pretty, and those in other styles and the elegant cut glass bowls are often selected by the wealthy".
"The candle on the dinner table holds its place still. The latest device that the art ware establishments have contrived for its adorning is a sliding scale that falls imperceptibly as the candle burns lower. The shade is made in the simple Bohemian glasses, in decorated art glass of every description, and is sometimes seen in rare jewelled glass in every rich, soft hue. The shaded candle sheds over table furnishings, flowers and faces of the guests the very perfection of light that the dinner givers have looked for these many years in vain".
"At a Cinderella ball the ices, of the biscuit glace form in paper cases, each contained a gift, either a small coin, a tiny thimble, a ring, or some of the pretty toylike patterns in silver broches and watch charms, cornelian hearts, sparkling flowers in jewelry, all of the smallest description. The gifts were wrapped in transparent caramel paper and pushed down at one side of the ice, and the outside of each case bore a motto. Handsome flower-bordered cards, with written quotations from the poets, were attached to the spoons, which with the plates were selected by the young ladies and young gentlemen for each other in turn".