Local historians have much to celebrate this holiday season, especially the San Francisco Museum and Historical Society and the Great Dickens Fair's commemoration of the author's 200th Birthday.
Everything 19th Century is clearly in focus as historical society patrons get to enjoy a special visit from the cast of the annual Christmas Fair now going on at the Cow Palace. The Christmas Fair is accustomed to providing a tea service to its visitors each year. In fact, on opening weekend the day after Thanksgiving, members of the press were invited to attend a special "High Tea" at 2:00 PM in the afternoon. Done in part to help commemorate Charles Dickens' 200th Birthday, the addition of the cast members from the Dickens Christmas Fair is a perfect fit for all things 19th Century.
On December 7, the SF Museum and historical society will host its annual Holiday Tea fundraiser at the Old Mint in downtown San Francisco. At holiday time, the historical society makes an effort to appeal to members generosity and the public to help support the historical preservation work that the Museum and SF Historical Society upholds. Whether it is to restore a historic structure, like the Old Mint, foster educational programs or simply to treasure San Francisco's illustrious past, the Museum and Historical Society takes pride in promoting San Francisco as one of the world's most significant and popular cities.
The annual tea fundraiser also gives the historical society an opportunity to revel in an experience of another place and time. Tables will be set with gold-rimmed china, silver and glassware.Tea, scones and sparkling wine! "Bring your appetite," notes Kathleen Iudice, media rep for the Museum and Historical Society, - the tea menu includes delectable scones with clotted cream and jam, savory sandwiches, and pastries prepared by Karen Bevels Catering, which will be serving Domaine Carneros sparkling wine, and a selection of premium teas.
"Holiday time is a perfect time to organize a tea gathering for friends and family," said Ellen Easton, an authority on the subject of afternoon tea. This reporter had the chance to speak to Easton last year when inquiring about the history of tea for an article. Easton mentioned that while tea service and ceremony traditions vary from country to country, "It remains customary to serve afternoon tea between the hours of 2 to 5 PM," she said. And, according to Easton, afternoon tea which reached great popularity in the 19th Century both in England and the United States, typically serves a three to four course meal. "The entire purpose is to socialize and enjoy being with company," she said.
No doubt the "Belle-Epoque" style Counting Rooms of the Old Mint will add the appropriate Victorian Era touches that will help make the Dickens Fair performers feel right at home as they will sing traditional Christmas songs for the occasion.
In addition to a historic coin treasure display and docent tours of the Old Mint, attendees of the afternoon Holiday Tea will be able to participate in the silent auction. Offering a variety of holiday gifts - from dining and entertainment certificates, wine, books and collectibles, to a dazzling array of holiday decorations, the silent auction will include fresh wreaths, centerpieces and garlands for mantles. All proceeds will benefit SF Museum and Historical Society programs.
The Old Mint is located at 88 - Fifth Street (between Jessie and Mission Streets). Doors will open at 11:00 am and there will be two seating times one at 12:00 Noon and and the other at 2:30 pm. Tickets are $75.00 per person for more information visit the SF Museum and Historical Society web site. Or call, (415) 537-1105.