Date: Sun, 8 Sep 1996 06:42:24 -0400

From: "Barry A. Popik" Bapopik[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]AOL.COM

Subject: GIFT SHOP: An American invention

While overseas, I couldn't help noticing "gift shops." The Dictionary of

Americanisms and the OED both list this as an Americanism dating from 1918.

I solved the "gift shop"--that's gotta be worth a FREE GIFT somewhere,

right? Ah, c'mon!!

This item comes from the Washington Post, 17 December 1905, part 4, pg.

8, col. 5:


The "Gift Shop" Originated by a Washington Girl in Kansas City.

The "gift shop" is a new idea. It was originated by a Washington girl,

Miss Olive R. Chapin, a former student of the Corcoran Art School, and the

success with which it has met has been unprecedented. All sorts and kinds of

gifts, birthday gifts, Christmas gifts, Easter gifts and wedding gifts, are

planned out, drawn, or painted, embroidered and fashioned in new and quaint


Quite beside the work to order, Miss Chapin has gathered together many

unique and exclusively wrought things done by the Russian peasants in this

country, the Swedes, the Germans, the French, and the Japanese, until the

gift shop has assumed a very Rialto flavor, and besides being a charming

place to visit it is unique and most instructive. Unfortunately it is not in

Washington but out in Kansas City, one room, dull green and old ivory, the

shelves and cabinets ranged about laden with the gift shop wares.

The first object that greets one on entering is an immense water color

panel of hollyhocks painted out of an old fashioned garden, rich red blossoms

in which is the living glint of sunshine. Just beneath it are many other

water color paintings, smaller in size but delightful in color and spirit,

and odd little fire etchings all done by the artist herself. Then there are

candlesticks of bronze and hammered brass, copper bowls, lacquered spoons and

trays, and antique silver clasps, the work of the Russian peasants. There

are Dutch pitchers and steins, Japanese plaques and dishes; Austrian vases of

iridescent iris [?] coloring, odd new fangled bits from Paris, a marvelous

flower fan that when closed becomes a shower bouquet. Scattered with the

larger things are countless little sample dinner cards, score cards, rute [?]

cards for bridge, favors, doilies, illuminated texts, chrysanthemum fans,

girl faces in great violet hats, tiny little Kate Greenaway figures in

violets--in short, everything gracious and flower like.

Just such a "shop" as this has never existed before and it opens up a

new and profitable industry for the clever and original art student quite

aside from the charm of the work.