This section is from the book "The Steward's Handbook And Guide To Party Catering", by Jessup Whitehead. Also available from Amazon: Larousse Gastronomique.
The Imperial Crown requires very stiff damask - an exact square is best, - and either a very small serviette, or a very large one folded in four, to reduce it to a quarter its size. Lay it flat on the table: fold the end, A B, over to the dotted line in the centre, C D. Do the same the other side, bringing E F to C D. Then place the end, A B, in three folds, as for a fan, the whole length of the damask, and crease them down, making the folds exactly use the piece between A B, and the fold at g, h. Then fold the end, E F, to match. Then bring the folded ends, A B, to the centre, /, crossing the folded part of one over the other where they meet. The serviette will now look like fig. 2. Turn the fold, E F, to the back and fold down. Next bring the corner E, by the dotted line K L, completely across, like fig. 3; the end N is to be level with the end E. The end N is then to be crossed over to match, and the end of the band inserted in the folds of the other, so as to hold firmly together. Put the hand inside and shape it. When set over the dinner roll it will stand firm. It should be a full-sized roll The front of the hat should face the guest.
If the carte de menu is not too large, it may be placed in the plaited fold at N, before crossing the ends over.
This requires a stiff serviette, damp and fresh ironed. It may, however, be made from a limp one, if a small pin is inserted at each side, after the last fold.
Lay the serviette flat on the table; fold in four lengthwise, keeping all the selvages one way. Turn the two ends to meet in the centre. Turn that over, and turn down two corners not at the selvage edge, at the lines A to B, and C to D. Turn it over and it will resemble fig. 1. Take the end C, and roll it over to D (see fig. 2). Bring A to B in the same manner, and complete the design. It is most suitable for a Christmas dinner party, when it may be filled with holly or any bright flowers; or one space may be filled with holly and the other with grapes, almonds, raisins, etc, to represent plenty (see fig. 3). Pinch the horns down and hold them a minute, to make them preserve their shape.
This is difficult to fold, although it may be done with a soft damask. Starch is, however, an improvement. The secret of success depends entirely on rolling it very lightly. Lay the serviette flat on the table. From A to B (fig. 1), fold down about six inches, if it is a large serviette. After trying the fold once, by reference to the illustration, it will be seen if the proportion is properly kept. The one which we have just folded ourselves, as a model, stands fifteen inches high, eleven for the shaft of the column, and it is very erect and firm, although made of limp damask. Fold the damask in half from C to D (fig. 1), to ascertain the half. In the left hand nip up the corner E, as shown in the illustration; the centre C and the corner G in the same way, like fig. 2, shaping them into laurel leaves. Then pleat down the serviette, holding the top still in the hand, in the way described in fig. 3. Next take the end H (fig. 2), that is, the left hand lower corner, and pass it completely round the serviette to the right, bringing the selvage tight round from A to B in fig. 3. Lay it on the table, holding the neck at E grasped in the hand, at first; and tucking down and keeping tight the folds from C to D (fig. 4), whilst rolling over the end E to F, as tightly as possible, umbrella wise; pressing it on the table as you roll it up, to keep it firm.
Fasten the end with a little pin.
Then firmly tuck in the odd corners at the base, in the way half a pound of sugar or an ounce of almonds are turned in. Twine a wreath of flowers around it. The artificial wreaths of small roses or holly, sold at the grocers', are pretty for the purpose. Set it upright, and with a little manipulation it will sit firm in the plate.