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[Tidbits] The Cocktailologist

Yes. well… you want easy this ain’t the place. You want offbeat. a
tad obscure. always relating either directly or obliquely to
jewelry. enter and welcome to the House of Tidbits.

He was a Scotsman. His name was Stanley MacNiel. And he lived in the
USA. He was a jewelry designer and one of his most famous–if not
the most famous–of his designs was a fur clip. He transformed the
concept of the literary mixed metaphor into his jewelry creations.
He worked for a company called The Paramount Jewelry Company
sometime around 1940 and it was during that time that he created his
most famous fur clip.

It was a Cocktail Shaker Pitcher. It was gold-plated enamel metal.
It was decorated with fruit. It was decorated with astrological
signs. It had a mysterious theme due to its mix of planetary and
mixology motifs. It had stars and a moon and planets and a lady’s
face with Maraschino cherries for her nose. Her face contains the
rim of a cocktail glass and she has lemon blossoms for eyes. Grapes
droop over her forehead and her hair consists of green leafy grape
leaves. Orange slices form her ears from which dangle stars. She
sports a couple of swizzle sticks on her face. Crystals form her
necklace. Planets and zodiac signs decorate the spout handle of the
shaker. All this makes up the form of the woman face on a fur clip.

The thing with Stanley MacNiel is that the about him is
less than scant. You can google it and shmoogle it and froogle it to
no avail. There’s a book out there which he published in 1940 but I
have no idea where to get it or what it costs. All I can add to this
is that he clearly had an enviable imagination. And–I believe–he
lived in a time where the avant-garde was more acceptable and
saleable than it is today.

So much looks like everything else. Remember the old cars? You could
tell their makes just by looking at them as they whizzed by. Buick.
three holes in the sides. Caddy. fins. Pontiac. the figurehead on
the front hood. On and on. Wow. That car looks great. Better than
the others. How can you tell? Look at the emblematic logo. That’s
the only differentiation. Everything else looks the same. But it’s
still a good looking car. How do you know? I can tell. Don’t ask me
how anyone can tell one car from the other. Logo elitism is the name
of the game.

I was once at a party. A gentleman was showing off his watch. Got
this one for only five grand. Got one at home. Cost me three grand.
Got a whole collection. Great prices. Chiseled 'em all down. I
showed him my watch. He was impressed. It had a famous name on the
face. Great looking watch, he said. What did you pay? Ten bucks.
It’s a fake. Got it at a street vendor. He didn’t ask me if it told
time. That was superfluous. He also didn’t speak to me for the rest
of the evening. I clearly wasn’t up to his standards. And I had
embarrassed him. Unforgivable. No matter. For some strange reason
everyone else at the table loved me. I suspect they would have liked
me a tad less if my watch had been more expensive. Love. in some
circles. is clearly inversely–or directly–proportional to the
value of the watch of the lovee. I think it’s a question of a value
system. Snobbery will always win out. Look. I’m richer than you.

So. after all this. who amongst you is panting to see the gold
plated Cocktail Shaker Pitcher describe above. You? You? And you
too? Wow!

Okay. You know the rest. The visit to the image… also known as the
viewing experience. You know where. Home page. Scroll down. Left side. Tidbits. Click.
And there for your sensory optic pleasure you will see the silver
belt brooch of which I just spoke.

And there ya have it. That’s it for this week folks. Catch you all
next week.

Benjamin Mark

The book MacNeil wrote is a collection of cocktails based on signs
of the zodiac, titled, unsurprisingly, “Zodiac Cocktails.” Apparently
it is highly collectible, as the prices asked for it by booksellers
ranges from $300-$450.

Elliot Nesterman