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 caterer for the ball or dinner at the residence of the hosts often supplies all the linen and table ware, as well as the decorations and feast. The caterer generally has a large supply of the articles needed, from a dozen salt cellars to a large epergne, with accommodation for a miniature lake for live gold fish to disport in, and reaps a handsome profit from their hire on these occasions. He generally purchases these articles at auction, and keeps them in fine condition. He is chary about purchasing any silver or china with monograms, for the obvious reason that the initial would often prove embarrassing to many hosts. He does not object to the inscription ' Mother,' or 'From Father,' because that would be applicable in almost every case, excepting that of a bachelor. His bonanza is silver-ware containing a crest. He always finds that such pleases his hosts. The caterer takes entire charge of the culinary arrangements and the preparation of the table, supplying the servants and superintending the service as well. He transports his wares in specially constructed boxes, takes his gripsack, prepared for any change in the weather, and the business is so well systematized that there are ordinarily no hitches or mistakes.
Often the family table ware, linen and china are not used".