6-3. Ladies Bridge Lunch: “The Bridge Party”–auction bridge in 1928

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“The Bridge Party” is the opening chapter of How to Entertain at Home, published by Priscilla Publishing in 1928. It reflects just how pervasive auction bridge parties as a way of entertaining were in 1928–despite that contract bridge had been created in 1925.

Priscilla declares that a large auction bridge party “can be safely relied upon as a social ice breaker in any community” and that it appeals to all ages and social stations. It is a way, she adds, of introducing a guest from out-of-town or to cancel out one’s entire season of social obligations!

The book includes menus for formal bridge parties where luncheon is served in the dining room after which guests adjourn to bridge tables set up in another room. Informal parties? Lunch is served right at the bridge table covered with 36″ square bridge cloths and there are matching cloth napkins. I actually have one such cloth from that period my daughter picked up in an antique store, hand embroidered with flowers and precisely 36 inches square.

Priscilla goes on to give a checklist for the hostess on necessary accessories like cards, tallies, prizes as well as hints on how to assign guests to tables and so on.

How to Entertain at Home is unique, combining as it does not only advice on entertaining but instruction on how to play auction bridge by an expert of the day–T.W. White. It is clear from its content that the author realizes this is sociable–not serious–bridge. “Auction bridge is the most fashionable social pastime . . . . before and after each hand one may pass the candy and chatter as she feels disposed,” says Mr. White.

That “how to play” section made the book obsolete, really, the day it was published. Because, as had happened before, each new “more challenging” bridge game created for tournament players inevitably was picked up by the ladies and turned into the newest  fad for entertaining. Contract bridge was about to emerge as the fashionable bridge game for social as well as serious players.

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