I often felt my mother, Doris Lichtenthal Falcone, was prone to exaggeration. She told me her paternal grandfather, Sigmund Lichtenthal,
on his business card. He did – I found the card. She told me there was a buzzing noise in her walls. There was – the bees actually drilled through the drywall! So, I shouldn’t have been skeptical when Mom described her beloved grandmother, Sophie Weiss Spiegel
, as a “high-society” woman.
Mom told me the family came from the “upper-class” and if the war hadn’t forced them out of Vienna in 1938, she might have been a princess. Now, I’m not too convinced Mom would have been a princess, but she was right about the “high-society.”
One of my prized possessions is the silver flatware purchased by my great-grandmother on April 21, 1932. Thank you, siblings, for allowing me the privilege of housing this special heirloom. And, thank you Sophie, my grandmother Rose, and my mom for holding on to the original invoice. which indeed refers my great-grandmother as “Hochwochlgeboren Frau Spiegel.”
Of course, it is amazing to have the proof of provenance for the set. I’m proud to say that after nearly 90 years, we have most of the items on the inventory list. We also use the silver – mostly on holidays – but at least it’s not just stored away in a box.
|“High-Society” folks certainly used a wide variety of utensils!!
The items are shown on another of my treasured items- one of my great-grandmother’s dishtowels.
Figuring she monogrammed this towel as part of her wedding trousseau (1901), it is about 118 years old.
Despite the fact, it’s held up quite well, I decided I should STOP USING IT!
|The shop as it stands today. (maps.google.com)
Amazingly, the company is still in business, in the same location! The map snip shows the distance from Sophie’s home (43 Silbergasse) to the shop of Jarosinski & Vaugoin. By car, it is now about a 22-minute ride. I wish I had known the location when we were in Vienna this past summer. The shop is only a 5-minute walk from my mother’s paternal grandparents’ apartment at 88a Mariahilferstrasse. Oh well, maybe I’ll get there again!
So – back to the “unusual name.” The title “Hochwohlgeboren” is explained as follows:
This form of address originally had connections with the ability of a Freiherr (Baron) to bequeath a family coat of arms and to hold landed property as allodial instead of a fief. The actual address is Euer Hochwohlgeboren (“Your High Well-born”) …
In the 19th century it became customary to address academic and other civil honoraries by this title, e.g., a number of letters to Sigmund Freud are addressed to “Hochwohlgeboren Prof. Dr. Sigmund Freud”.
It is commonly abbreviated in correspondence as: “I.I.H.H.” for married couples “I.H.” (= Ihre Hochwohlgeboren) for women. “S.H.” (= Seine Hochwohlgeboren) for men.
I know my mother’s family was quite well-off financially but I’m still not convinced about her possible “princess” status. But, Mom, yet again, I find you did not exaggerate! Your family was definitely “high-society!”