16 Spending Habits of the Gilded Age That Makes Today's Wealthy Look Frugal
16 Spending Habits of the Gilded Age That Makes Today’s Wealthy Look Frugal

16 Spending Habits of the Gilded Age That Makes Today’s Wealthy Look Frugal

Trista - October 14, 2018

16 Spending Habits of the Gilded Age That Makes Today’s Wealthy Look Frugal
Mary Astor Paul. findagrave.com

16. Butterflies Were Shipped From Brazil for a Debutante Ball

Mary Astor Paul, undoubtedly related to the Caroline Schermerhorn Astor that ruled New York social life until the infamous Vanderbilt costume party of 1883, was a socialite of the Astor clan who was born in 1889. Her debutante ball was in 1906, towards the end of the Gilded Age. Debutante balls were formal events in which a young lady was formally presented to society; some are still held today, but they are nothing compared to the debutante balls of the Gilded Age.

Young Mary’s debutante ball was to feature 10,000 butterflies, which had been shipped all the way from Brazil to New York City just for the occasion. The idea was that they would all be released in a surprise move that would flood her guests’ senses with beauty. Unfortunately, the net behind which all of the butterflies were kept was precariously close to a lamp, and the heat was too much for the poor butterflies to handle. All of them died. When they were finally revealed and the net released, 10,000 dead butterflies rained down on the guests.

Mary went on to work in the French resistance movement of World War II to help relocate American soldiers, proving that even the rich of the Gilded Age could care about someone other than themselves.


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