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 waiters over there have a good way of not despising small tips. Little sums and a good many of them are what counts up big at last. The way it is here one person will give perhaps half a dollar, then a dozen others will go out without giving anything because they cannot afford to give a half and they are ashamed to offer less, they think perhaps the waiter will insult them if they offer small change, so they don't give anything. A London waiter tells his experience, which shows that even pennies count up in a week. He was a "greeny " in some respects, though he had a good idea about waiting. He got into a small restaurant where there were only two waiters, himself and another. He went for sixty cents a week wages and "what he could pick up" and his dinner. Sixty cents a week is so near nothing it would seem like a mistake was made in telling it, if we did not know that many of them go to work for no wages at all and pay the proprietor besides. Even in this cheap restaurant it was the custom for each person that ate dinner or lunch to pay the waiter two cents "for service," and some paid three cents. They were not really obliged to pay it, but it is the custom of the country and most of them did in this restaurant.
The green fellow soon found out that his partner was playing sharp on him, letting this one do the waiting and he went around and collected the pay and kept all the tips. After they had had a fight over that they agreed to divide the dining room, one took one side, one the other. It appears they served about 100 dinners a day, besides the other meals and lunches, that was 50 customers apiece, and if each one gave the waiter an English penny, which is two cents, that made them a dollar a day apiece, or seven dollars a week. And the one telling it says they did do as well as that, for when he got his rights and his partner could not cheat him, he says his pay amounted to twenty-five English shillings a week, which is over six dollars. That is not much wages, but it shows how small tips make a considerable sum in a week; they make more than the odd quarters and halves do that only come from a few.
American tourists generally are ashamed to give small tips, this is the way they do:
"The American tourists who invade England every summer are in the habit of carrying back a grievance which is largely of their own creation. At every turn one meets them complaining that in England one has to give so much money to all the servants - it's perfectly dreadful,' while they themselves are the only people who ever do anything of the kind. The well-traveled London correspondent of the Chicago Tribune makes the following remarks on the pretentious liberality of his countrymen, which hotel-keepers who are brought so intimately in contact with them will read without surprise:
"I have known an American lady who gave the man who tended the hotel lift half a crown daily and half a sovereign weekly. I knew a vulgar old American who gave gold to every servant on all occasions. And then, after making fools of themselves in that way, they go home and report that the Prince of Wales and the Archbishop of Canterbury are the only two men in England who will not take a tip. I have heard of an American who, when on the steamboat at Liverpool about to return to America, thus addressed the assembled crowd: 'Gentlemen, if there is one of you to whom I have not given a shilling I wish that he would hold up his hand.' But it was very filly of him. I have lived eleven years in England, I know both English and American society fairly well, and I can assure the untraveled Yankee that he need not give away a sixpence in the year more in one country than in the other. It is only where the, raw, green Americans have been that the servants are spoiled in this respect and made grasping and overfamiliar".
But Americans are not the only ones.
"The following clipping is from the journal known as Men and Women: 'The business of a waiter at the Star and Garter, at Richmond, must be a somewhat profitable occupation if there are many guests like Mr. Henry Irving, who, on the frequent occasions on which he dines there, tips the waiter with a sovereign. This came out at the Wandsworth County Court a few days ago, when one of the waiters at that famous hostelry sued a brother of the napkin for refusing to go halves with him in the magnificent 'tip' bestowed by Mephistopheles".
It was in London that ten thousand waiters replied to one advertisement which shows that there are all classes and styles of waiters there, and tens of thousands that learn waiting as a trade and follow it up all their lives.
Some way back may be found descriptions of the ways of checking and paying in various places, but the London restaurant system has not yet been mentioned, it is this: