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Wrappin' With Mamie: 1937

Wrappin' With Mamie: 1937

1937. "Little did Mrs. Mark Bristol realize when she baked, Virginia style, a couple of hams for friends a few years ago that it would eventually develop into a lucrative business for her. The flavor of the hams so intrigued the friends that they passed the word on to others, and as a result Mrs. Bristol now bakes thousands of hams every year in her kitchen on fashionable Massachusetts Avenue and ships them to all parts of the world. Even the Duke of Windsor is now one of her best customers. It takes Mrs. Bristol four days to prepare a ham according to her specially formulated recipe. It is first soaked and simmered for days, and then while baking, it is sprinkled with cloves, pineapple and basted with sherry, brandy or applejack. The hams are originally obtained from a special farm in Virginia where they have been smoked in the real Dixie manner. Mrs. Bristol frequently inspects the ham while is it in the simmering process. Her Virginia cook and first assistant, Mamie, wraps the meat." Harris & Ewing glass negative. View full size.


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Henry Brokman-Knudsen

I know there is very little chance that "Anonymous Tipster" will see this, but I'm delighted to see that painting by Henry Brokman-Knudsen of the garden party with the Khayamiya windbreak, or Egyptian Tentmaker Applique. Would anyone - especially Anonymous Tipster - be able to tell me more about where that painting is kept, or how they found that image?

I'm also keen to see anything else that depicts those striking applique panels from Egypt, if anyone has seen anything else like the ones in the images above!

Manicured ham

I think that is a "French manicure." I'd sure like to have that recipe for her ham.

Ham Paraphrase

The following text accompanied another photo from this series which was published in the Washington Post. The amusing aspect to me is that while the information is identical to the Library of Congress caption posted by Dave, each sentence has been slightly reworded. It reminds me of reports I "wrote" in 6th grade consisting of similar paraphrasing of passages from the World Book Encyclopedia.

Washington Post, Nov 25, 1937

A few years ago Mrs. Mark Bristol, wife of the rear admiral, cooked a couple of hams for friends. The result was a lucrative business that involves the cooking in her kitchen on fashionable Massachusetts avenue of thousands of hams yearly. The hams are shipped to every corner of the earth. The Duke of Windsor is one of her best customers. Four days are required to prepare the ham according to the Bristol formula. It is soaked and simmered, baked and sprinkled with cloves, pineapple and basted with sherry, brandy or applejack. Mrs Bristol (above) frequently inspects the ham while it simmers. Mamie, her first assistant ham cooker, holds the lid.

Who knew?

Thanks for the heads-up on the cellophane. Looked it up on Wiki, very interesting. Now if I could just find out what the clear stuff used as a back window on the early automobile soft tops was, I'd be laughing.

[Isinglass or celluloid. - Dave]


I wonder how much of the cooking Mrs. Bristol did vs. how much Mamie did?

[There might be a clue in the caption, where it calls Mamie "Mrs. Bristol's cook." - Dave]

Mrs. Bristol's Souvenirs

The decorations in the room suggest that Mrs. Bristol, or someone in her family, was quite well traveled. The big appliqued cotton hanging on the back wall is a late 19th-century Egyptian festival tent section. These were made in Cairo in the Islamic Mamluk Revival style, and were very popular in the 1890s with tourists visiting the pyramids. The panels were very colorful. Here is another that is very similar to Mrs. B's, being used as a picnic windbreak in an oil painting by British artist Henry Brokman-Knudsen.

It came from outer space

That ham looks like a meteoroid!

More interesting than the

More interesting than the wrapping material are Mrs. Bristol's well-manicured fingernails. You don't often see closeups of manicures from that time period, which leave the tips and the half-moon shape at the bottom of the nail white while lacquering the rest. An interesting way to do things, for sure.

Cellophane, incidentally, accounted for 25% of DuPont's profits in 1938.


I don't think that's Saran wrap. Had no idea a clear-film wrap was made that early. Anybody tell me what it is?

[Probably cellophane. - Dave]

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