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:
NEW FIELD FOR ART STUDENTS
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.