More than a hundred years ago, an eccentric American lady called Miss Frank E Buttolph sent a letter of correspondence to the British Museum in London. The letter, dated 1902, inquired whether the respected British institution had received the gift Miss Buttolph sent.
It was a menu card from the Millenary Banquet for King Alfred, held the previous year at Delmonico’s in New York.
The gift was not entirely an altruistic gesture. Her donation, she hoped, would smooth the way to British Museum staff helping her acquire two copies of the menu for King Edward VII’s coronation, due to be held in August that year.
Miss Buttolph, of course, is widely regarded as the world’s pre-eminent menu collector. The bulk of her collection of over 25,000 menus is held at the New York Public Library. She wrote letters to people and to institutions all over the world to solicit menus for her collection and wooed the British Library in a very determined manner. As a result, the British Library now holds a fascinating collection of menus donated by Miss Buttolph as she negotiated with the staff. The menus and events cards are delicately held together in four large, leather-bound volumes. Ranging from ornately decorated hardbound embossed menus to much plainer railroad dining-car menus, the collection spans the years 1890-1904.
This is the first time these menus have ever been reproduced and Love Menu Art is proud to be partnering with the British Library to bring them to a global audience. And, we and the British Library have been unable to find out if Miss Buttolph ever got hold of those precious Coronation menus.