The Virtual Corkscrew Museum's Daily Newspaper
Saturday, March 8, 2003
Spiers and Pond
Birmingham, Michigan and London, England - While visiting corkscrew collector Herb Danziger in Birmingham, Michigan, The Daily Screw editor spotted a "Gaiety Restaurant" bulletin on Herb's wall. Herb had matched it up with a small corkscrew with the "Spiers & Pond's" from his collection. Herb also owns a four finger pull with the mark on the top of the handle. Herb says "The advertisment came from the wall of one of the pubs we went to one evening during an International Correspondence of Corkscrew Addicts meeting. The director of the company that owned the pub allowed me to unscrew it from the wall and go make a photocopy of it. My wife, Camille remained as hostage while I went to do the copying."
A little research led to Ron Spiers from London who had done extensive research on his family.
Felix William Spiers was born in London in 1832. He went to Australia in 1851 in search of gold. While there he met Christopher Pond, an Englishman from Essex. The pair rented a room at the Melbourne National Hotel, set it up as a catering establishment and named it "The Shakespeare Grill Room". Later they bought the Cafe de Paris in Melbourne. They brought over to Melbourne an English cricket team and they organized the first balloon flight in Australia.
When Spiers and Pond returned to London they noted the poor food service in London's railway stations and they soon secured contracts to have restaurants and cafes at railway stations. They built the Criterion Restaurant and Theatre in Piccadilly Circus in 1874 and the Gaiety Theatre Restaurant in The Strand in 1894 and they catered at the Regents Park Zoo and the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.
The enterprising men also produced an 80 page monthly mail order catalogue, The Housekeeper, which provided articles of interest, recipes and hints to housewives.
Christopher Pond died in 1881 and Felix Spiers took sole charge of the company. Felix died in Paris in 1911. The firm founded by the two men, Spiers and Pond, ultimately owned 12 major hotels, including the Grand Hotel at Brighton. In 1957 the company was acquired by Chicken Inns and in 1960 was amalgamated with the Express Dairy Co. In 1969 it in turn was acquired by Grand Metropolitan Hotels.
Special thanks to Ron Spiers for details for this story.
Fanny and Jenny
A Ballad by W. S. Gilbert
Fanny and Jenny in Paris did dwell,
Miss Jenny was a dowdy, Miss Fanny as well-
Each went for to dine at a quarter to four-
At her own little favourite Restauratore-
Fanny of Bertram and Roberts was fond,
While Jenny she worshipped her Spiers and Pond.
Fanny was pretty and piquante and pert,
Her manners were shortish and so was her skirt,
While Jenny the elder would make a man wince,
In a dress of the mode of a century since.
Bertram and Roberts's Fanny was blonde,
And dark was the Jenny of Spiers and Pond.
Jenny lived in a modest and lady-like way:
To Spiers and Pond she went every day,
She'd order up beef and potatoes as well,
And cut off the joint until senseless she fell:
(She fed herself daily all reason beyond
To gaze all the longer at Spiers and Pond.)
But Fanny, that frolicsome, frivolous maid
(Whose tastes were more airy than Jenny's the staid),
To Bertram and Roberts would hie her away,
And swallow plum-pudding the rest of the day.
The best of her dresses Miss Fanny she donned
The Restaurateurs didn't seem for to care
For Jenny's soft ogle or Fanny's fond stare.
Said Jenny, "Don't let us be taken aback,
We're probably on an erroneous tack,
And Bertram and Roberts of me may be fond,
While you are beloved by Spiers and Pond!"
"Oh, Bertram and R., are you dying for me,
Or am I the chosen of Spiers and P.?
Oh, which is the angel and fostering star
Of Spiers and P., or of Bertram and R.?
Which firm have I collared in Venus's bond?
Say, Bertram and Roberts-speak, Spiers and Pond!
"Perhaps if you cannot completely agree
Which of you shall have Fanny and which shall have me,
And you wish for to go for to do what is right,
You will go to the Bois de Boulogne for to fight-
It's the mode that is popular in the beau monade,-
Will Bertram and Roberts fight Spiers and Pond?"
But Spiers and Pond are but perishing clay,
So they gasped and they gurgled and fainted away-
The burden of Bertram and Roberts's song
Was "Goodness! how shocking! Oh, please go along!
With neither for worlds would we ever abscond!"
And "Ditto for us," exclaimed Spiers and Pond.
Said Fanny, "How bold, and how dreadfully rude!"
"Those men are too forward," said Jenny the prude,
"Such youth and such beauty as both of us own
Are safe in the walls of a convent alone,
We shall there be the coarse persecutions beyond
Of Bertram and Roberts and Spiers and Pond."
Is There No End?
Belgium - Wednesday's edition of The Daily Screw added another corkscrew in the parade of "carved bone corkscrews." This one was a dog from Belgium. That's just the beginning. In addition to the dog there are four current offerings from Belgium. All have similar descriptions and are offered with starting bids of EUR 129.00.
The variety of these figures on the market internationally continues to grow. Does any reader know where they are being made?
The Answer will be seen in tomorrow's Daily Screw.
©2003 Don Bull, Editor