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Souvenirs and Tchotckes

Wedding favors are a way to share the occasion’s joy with friends and loved ones … and also a way to show off the thought and expense put into the event. Some symbolize luck, health, and fortune, while others are simply practical. Like other elements of a wedding, these mementos follow fashion as well as cultural and religious traditions, and have done so since long before our modern age of Pinterest Envy.

In those days you didn’t have a wedding planner; [my wife] Edith would take care of all those details, the matches, the pink cigarettes out of New York, we’d do all that standard.

Caterer and wedding planner Louis Bluefeld, 2011 [OH 760]

Souvenir cigar box (now empty), with space for three cigars, from the wedding of Beulah Rosenblatt and Adolf Gutman on February 18, 1904.  The initials R and G are intertwined on the lid, while the date of the wedding is printed inside, so the recipient might think fondly upon their friends’ wedded bliss while enjoying a complimentary smoke.


Gift of Arthur Gutman. JMM 2009.10.3


Heart-shaped cardboard box, trimmed with lace, designed for distributing souvenir pieces of wedding cake – a popular American custom in the late 19th century. Believed to be from the wedding of Carrie Mann and Meyer S. Halle, which was held at the bride’s home on Madison Avenue on November 4, 1896; the reception was catered by Simon Dealham, a Jewish caterer with a storefront on Madison Avenue. 


Gift of Doris L. Halle. JMM 1987.188.5

Bencher, “Your wedding Keepsake” from the marriage of Rebecca Cohen and Rabbi Moshe Aaron Yehuda, married at Baltimore’s Talmudical Academy on June 27 1954.


Personalized pocket benchers were first given as wedding souvenirs in the mid 1910s, at fancy Orthodox weddings in New York City.


Gift of B’nai Israel Congregation. JMM 1996.20.1a 

“Freddie and Jack, March 12, 1955,”

Gift of Florence A. Rogers. JMM 1985.159.2

“Esther and Melvin [Shapiro], August 2, 1983.”

Gift of Sylvia Nudler. JMM 2016.41.1 


Matchbooks and napkins printed with the couple’s name and wedding date were a common, inexpensive favor choice throughout the 20th century. 


“Susan and Phil, August 17, 1980.” (Susan Lowenthal and Philip Rabin were married in a double-ring ceremony at Beth Israel, Randallstown.) Gift of Susan and Philip Rabin. JMM 2017.25.1


Printed kippahs are very common at Jewish weddings, serving as both a practical way to both ensure male guests have covered their heads, and a tangible way to remember the special day.

Yellow kippah, “Wedding of Yvonne and Larry, April 18, 1966.”  Collected by Daniel Roseman as a wedding guest.


Gift of Springhouse Assisted Living. JMM 2005.36.18

White kippah, “Wedding of Bonnie Rachel Hurwitz and John Joseph DeSantis, July 2, 1989.” They were married at the Hotel Belvedere, Baltimore; the donor, a friend of the bride, collected it.


Gift of Sylvia Nudler. JMM 2016.41.2

Cake top with bride and groom figures, from the wedding cake of Fannie Herzfeld and Moses Blum, who were married by Rabbi Abraham Levinson of B’nai Israel, Baltimore, on August 14, 1904. 


The Blums were married by Rabbi Levinson of B’nai Israel, and we can presume that their ceremony was fairly traditional; but the commercially available cake tops of the day did not reflect Jewish traditions, even in a city like Baltimore where many goods made for Jewish rituals and holidays were available. Plaster and sugar paste, with fabric, wire, and wax embellishments.


Gift of Estelle Blum. JMM 1995.190.10

Cake top with bride and groom figures, from the wedding cake of Judith Klein and Marvin Spector, who were married at Oheb Shalom in 1963. The elaborate top was a gift from the kosher baker who made the cake, who was a friend of the couple’s. Plastic, plaster, and sugar paste, with wire and fabric embellishments. 


On loan from Marvin and Judy Spector. JMM L2017.1.3

CP 2017.029.008.jpg

Two rosy-cheeked brides on top of the wedding cake at the wedding of Joy Freedman and Lisa Gilden, Temple Oheb Shalom, September 18, 2011. The cake was made by Lisa’s sister.


Courtesy of Joy Freedman and Lisa Gilden. JMM CP2017.29.8

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