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Office Xmas Party: 1925

        It's the week before Christmas, time for a hallowed holiday tradition here at Shorpy: The Office Xmas Party! Which has been going on for 97 years now. Will Clarence in Sales ever get up the nerve to ask out Hermione from Accounting? Is there gin in that oilcan? Ask the bear.
December 1925. "Washington, D.C. -- Western Electric Co. group." There are enough little dramas playing out here to keep the forensic partyologists busy until Groundhog Day. National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size.

        It's the week before Christmas, time for a hallowed holiday tradition here at Shorpy: The Office Xmas Party! Which has been going on for 97 years now. Will Clarence in Sales ever get up the nerve to ask out Hermione from Accounting? Is there gin in that oilcan? Ask the bear.

December 1925. "Washington, D.C. -- Western Electric Co. group." There are enough little dramas playing out here to keep the forensic partyologists busy until Groundhog Day. National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size.


On Shorpy:
Today’s Top 5


Why the rush?

[??? - Dave]

Newcomer To The Party

After viewing Shorpy for some years now, I finally decided to join this party; I'm in awe of the many observations, and for now, am unable to come up with any new angles on this fascinating photo. I do want to say that the comments of jd taylor and BethF most definitely struck a chord with me; I, too, envy those in the photo, survivors of even greater trouble, coming as it did following The Great War. Hope to see you all back at the party next year, and a few other places along the way. May you all find peace and hopefully some joy this Christmas.

The only Christmas party I'll go to.

Merry Christmas to Dave and the Shorpy Crew, as well as my fellow Shorpy followers. It appears that I've been around for 12.5 of the 14 years of, though it seems like yesterday and DoninVa no longer lives in Va. There's always something to be found in a Shorpy photo: the young woman framed in the glass of the door is the doppelganger for someone I once worked with. Cheers!

Dead ringer, etc.

At the very back and far left - the attractive woman 3 in - I have a friend who looks exactly like her but with a more modern hair style, but identical facial features. How eerie!
Something tells me that Oil Can Mary's wicked smile indicates that she is already planning what flapper attire she will wear at the local speakeasy that night. Her future toast might be: "My candle burns at both ends; It will not last the night; But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends— It gives a lovely light!" Published in 1920. Edna St. Vincent Millay.
I often wonder what became of all these people. It is my hope that they all lived long, happy, prosperous lives but alas, as we know, life can be more complicated than that.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year you ghosts of Christmas past!

Mysterious machine

Now that the gummed tape dispenser has been identified, I hope someone will be able to reveal the secret of the machine on the desk behind the in-box. A perforator or a mimeograph machine perhaps?

[It's called a typewriter. - Dave]

The X-mas Party Presents!

And here you may have a look on how Christmas looked 100 years ago in the U.K. (including a display of toys made by Meccano in the toy department of Whiteleys store in Bayswater).

Time to Move On

I vote that next year you post the 1926 photo. Some of the lingering issues must have been resolved by then.


They all lived through a plague of their own six years earlier, and they look fine now, so there’s hope.

Thanks, jdtaylor--I'm sure I'm not the only one who needed that perspective today.

Happy holidays to Dave and all the Shorpyites. This site has been a great distraction lately!

12 Years of Christmas

Merry Christmas Shorpy. Thanks for the memories.

[This is Shorpy's 14th Christmas! - Dave]

Christmas Past, Present, and Future all at once!

Every year I wonder about the dark-haired smiling young woman third from the front, beside the desk. With her modern-looking bob, she looks like a Time Traveler, so that's what I've named her. (Not far away are The Maniac, Da Boss, and The Very Secret Lovers.) This photo, along with its subjects, never gets old, and I hope the Holiday Spirit that originally inspired it never does either. Happiest of Holidays to everybody who produces and sees Shorpy, and a New Year of peace, love, courage, and good health to all.

A Vintage Crumple

After all these annual viewings I finally noticed what looks like a lone crumpled piece of paper at lower right. We'll never know what was on it. Maybe a dig at one of these people? Or love note? Ah, the mysteries!

That Time of Year Again

Through the miracle of photography and our friends at Shorpy, we are able to visit this party again.

Re: Elbow to elbow

I must concur. Having spent nine months wearing a mask, practically bathing in hand sanitizer every time I touch anything, and staying as far removed from people I don't live with as humanly possible, I'm jealous of these long-dead coworkers for being able to crowd together, enjoying one another's company in person, rather than over Zoom or FaceTime.

It's been a bad, bad year, there's no denying that, but Shorpy has been a bright spot in my day since January, much as I'm sure it's been for the rest of you. Happy Holidays to all the Shorpyites out there — may you find some contentment and peace in the face of all this tragedy and come out the other side hale and hearty.

Elbow to elbow

Every year I have a different response to this photograph, depending on general mood and the state of the world. This year, I truly envy those people. They get to stand together in a bunch, breathing one another’s air, touching each other casually, sharing food and drink, simply going in to work at an office. They all lived through a plague of their own six years earlier, and they look fine now, so there’s hope.

Happy holidays to all the people who create and enjoy this wonderful website that gives me joy and perspective on a daily basis.

Five groups

Part of the endless fun with this photo is deciding which part of it to center as the embiggened image on my screen. I fluctuate between the five main Ion Dept. groups: on the left, the ladies on the floor, the ladies standing, and the men standing above them, and on the right, the lower men and the upper men. (If I had to distinguish a special sub-group, it would be solo guy behind the tree and the fellow on the very far right who hovers between the upper and lower groups.) Once I have the group du jour embiggened, I focus on the individual characters. As we who have been doing this for years well know, that’s when the fun begins.

Might I take this opportunity to offer the best of the season to Dave and Ken and tterrace and all my fellow Shorpsters. In this extraordinary year of greater screen time than ever before, I find that my Shorpy screen time is even more intense and valuable, if such a thing is actually possible. Bless Shorpy, and bless you all.

Another year

We all get another year older and they stay the same.

Nice $-value today

That horse that guy in front of Christmas tree is holding. All with bit of wear and patina collected in 95 years.

Buddha Bear!

Puts in his once a year appearance.

Merry Christmas to Dave & Ken & tterrace and all the naughty boys & girls at Shorpy!

Well, Merry Christmas Termite

You can probably still find one somewhere. It's an automatic wetter and cutter for wide, brown packing tape. You just mash down on the handle and it shoots out a measured length of wet sticky tape and cuts it when you release. There is a messy water reservoir up front. I used one in a shipping department in 1974.

Austerity Christmas?

From the Charlie Brown Christmas tree to the lack of any visible food or drinks (except for a few candy canes) to the blank, unimpressed looks on some faces, it looks like an Austerity Christmas in Anytown this year.

Do they know?

Do you think the two women wearing the exact same necklace (dripping pearls) suspect that it might have come from the same man? Are the pearls from the handsome young gentleman with the pen sticking out of his pocket? Is this an early version of "The Bachelor" that we are witnessing? Which one will he choose?

That machine

May be a gummed tape applicator.
National Package Sealer model #206

Going to a Go-Go

Nothing says Christmas like a Go-Go party hat.

Only one bow tie

Among all those Windsor knots on the gents, third on upper right. In group after group they are always in the minority, even until today.

She of the averted gaze

I know that we enjoy interpreting what is in - or not in - this photograph each year. However, eight people, including "she of the averted gaze" are looking in that direction, suggesting something was going on while the picture was taken, sufficient to distract. A further basis for interpretation and speculation, perhaps? Merry Christmas.

Re: tterrace What I want for Christmas

It's a gummed tape dispenser, similar to this one:

Judging you

Don't know what got into her holiday spirit. Not too pleased with someone.

Nothing stops this party

Oh, thank goodness the Shorpy party is still on! It's the only event the pandemic cannot cancel!

What I want for Christmas

I don't care what it is, I want one.

[Update, thanks to all the gizmo identifiers. I love tape dispensers! Now I really want it!]

Merry Christmas Dave!

And to all the crew at Shorpy! Thanks for the memories and keeping some of us sane in 2020!

Questions, questions

Every year I wonder.

What is that thing on the postal scale? A misplaced elf? A misshapen magus?

Why is that woman with the oil can looking at me? Am I safe?

And why is the Christmas tree so scrawny?

Thanks Again Dave and Merry Christmas

Thanks again Dave, I've been waiting for it. Obviously, we all love this yearly Christmas "surprise". I enjoy everyone's take on this party I missed awhile back.

Neither here nor there

Each year my attention is drawn immediately to the three beauties at the bottom left of the photo: sultry beauty far left floor level, looking off to her right at someone/something off camera; the lady to that lady's left who seems to be watching her with deliberate intent; exquisite beauty just behind the desk corner, beheld with what appears to be fond regard by the lady just behind her to her left; and wholesome beauty smiling behind exquisite beauty, being kept tabs on by the lady in the Police Department helmet.

I do eventually get past these women, to study the remainder of visages and postures and wonder about the other long-dead revelers of both genders, but it is these six who take up most of my time each year as I wonder what might have been the complexities of the various relationships. And as always, I hope each one in the photo had a Merry Christmas that year and many years after. I know that the likelihood is slim to none that all lived long and were carefree throughout, but that's still what I wish for in this suspended moment that so many have celebrated for so long, thanks to Shorpy.

So a Merry Christmas to beloved Shorpy and its erudite, esteemed company of gazers no less fascinating than any who attended Office Xmas Party: 1925.

Merry and Bright

This photo has become the official kickoff of the holidays for me.

Best wishes to all the Shorpy regulars and particularly those who keep this place running.

Socially Distant

Would they have believed it had someone told them that in 95 years their photograph would be the highlight of 2020 for a group of remote observers?

Bal Masque

Ninety-five years later, if there even would be a party! With an added suspense -- what does Hermione look like, under that mask?

Michael Scott

If Michael Scott were the manager of this office, I wonder if he would have said (as he did 85 years later on the TV show), "Unbelievable. I do the nicest thing that anyone's ever done for these people and they freak-out. Well happy birthday Jesus, sorry your party's so lame."

Merry Christmas, Shorpy! And for the record, I don't consider this a lame birthday party, and I doubt Jesus would, either.

Office desk sultry beauty

I wonder why the dark hair beauty is staring off to the side? Was she jilted? Was she sick of the many advances by the suited men, or despondent that the one she wanted got away. Why does the women in the RBG collar stare at her? Does she know what happened?

I love the captions from another commenter.

Love it

I love this photo. The expressions, the faces. Some of the women are quite attractive. The man with his hand draped across the shoulder of another man is interesting.

This one never gets old

How is it that an old picture never gets old? Every year, I always notice something new that I hadn't noticed before. This year it's the guy with the beard, hiding behind the tree.

Also, the woman just above and just to the left of the woman in the striped blouse (her left, that is) - could that be Johnny Depp's great-grandmother? I see a definite resemblance.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Still Here

Every time I see this picture I think that these people could have been my mom or dad.The time and ages represented are almost perfect. It reminds me of aunts and uncles and family friends who are long gone although I will never forget them. I just turned 80 years old this past July and can remember a lot of people who would have been right at home in this picture. Thank you davidk for including me in your list of people who have liked this picture in the past and a big Merry Christmas to Dave and tterrace for maintaining the site.

Our own office party

I love seeing this photo every year and thanks to davidk for the guest book entries of our office. Top of the season everyone!

Postcards From The Edge

When I got mine, I literally jumped for joy seeing the people that I love and cherish so much. Now I can look at them anytime throughout the year, not just at Christmas.

And, thank you to DAVIDK for the mention.

[@davidk, I would be the guy with the object upon his head]

Re:Shorpy Ion Dept

@davidk, I'm the one peeking from behind the Christmas tree.

I hope everyone in the Shorpy pantheon enjoys all the holidays!

Who's Who

David K - Dave runs the joint, so he's the three piece with the cigar. TTerrace is his major player on this site, so he is the guy looking over Dave's left shoulder. Now we just need someone to post a picture with numbers, and we label them.

Maligayang Pasko all.

The Shorpy Ion Dept.

A crazy thought occurred to me this year with respect to this beloved standard photograph: what if it were not the Ion Dept. from 1925 but the Shorpy regular contributors from 2019? Which one is Dave? Where is tterrace? And what about so many of the devoted Shorpsters (in no special order) – Jim Page, fanhead, TheGeezer, PhotoFan, Baxado, BethF, TimeAndAgainPhoto, Vintagetvs, OTY, Solo, Jeb70, switzarch, DaveA, JennyPennifer, rhhardin, pennsylvaniaproud, JohnHoward, kines, loujudson, lindab, Jano, StefanJ, jimmylee42, Hayslip, rivlax, Mattie, joemanning, Born40YearsTooLate, GarandFan, mountainrev, perpster, Dbell, Doubleclutchin, Root 66, KathyRo, archfan, GlenJay, alexinv, karenfryxell, Gooberpea, Angus J, 510Russ, Michael R, Brett, BillyB, bobzyerunkl, Alex, jsmakbkr, Marchbanks, Commishbob, Jimmy Longshanks, DoninVa, mgolden, Alonzo, Dag, Juan de la cruz, bobstothfang, Ice gang, Rute Boye, Vonderbees, Ad Orientem, MacKenzie Kavanaugh, JazzDad, Maniak Productions, EvenSteven, Doghouse Riley, John.Debold, Sewickley, Paul A, and jd taylor. And let’s not forget some of the people we haven’t seen for a while: stanton_square, aenthal, Mr Mel. (My apologies to those I have not listed.) Best of the season to you all, my fellow Shorpsters!

I guessed the right number of buttons in the jar

Merry Christmas!

The timeless shorpy tradition

Every year when I see the office party pic, my eyes always wind up gazing into the sideways glance of that beauty in front of the desk.

I cant help imagining what the conversations of the day were, who brought a flask full of illegal libations, was jazz coming from a tube type radio, did everyone get a little Christmas bonus (it was the roaring 20's mind you), and who has a crush on who?

Dave, thanks for all you do. Shorpy is a constant in my day.

Be well everyone!

This reminds me of --

That photo in "The Shining" of the 1921 New Year's Eve party at the Overlook Hotel. These folks will be back, again and again.

Find the Boss

I just love the way he stands there holding his cigar. You can almost hear him barking out orders in a very Edward G. Robinson-ish voice.

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