In 1875, Martin and Ellen Flynn had been married for ten years, so last weekend the Flynn House staff celebrated the couple’s “Tin Wedding.” It was often the custom for friends and relatives to help mark a tenth anniversary by presenting the couple with gifts of tin – either practical and utilitarian or whimsical and completely impractical. Tinsmiths created elegant top hats, ladies’ hats, dainty slippers, fans, pipes and lovely jewelry – all made of tin. The lucky couple would invite their friends and family to a sumptuous buffet, complete with wedding cake, to accept their gifts.
The etiquette books described how couples should celebrate the occasion and even suggested how the invitations should be prepared. Cards covered in tin foil, or ordinary notepaper, with a tin card enclosed, were usually recommended.
On January 1, 1874, the Weekly Madisonian of Winterset, Iowa published a description of one party. “Over a hundred guests sat down to a choice supper and drank coffee out of tin cups, stirred their sugar in with tin spoons, and took their ice cream out of tin saucers. Suspended in one of the rooms was this inscription, worked in evergreens, ‘1863-Welcome-1873’.” We borrowed this idea to decorate the Flynn front parlor.
We made examples of tin wedding gifts that the couple might have received including tin flowers, a fan, a top hat, several jewelry boxes as well as a bird cage.
The dining room was also elaborately decorated with ribbon streamers, a chandelier decoration featuring a tin watering can, and lots of fresh flowers. We set the table with the Flynn silver tea service and some of the Haviland china.
All of our interns at the Flynn Mansion participated in baking the three-layer marble and raspberry wedding cake!
Another tin wedding anniversary was described in the East Bradford Advocate, June 2, 1869. Prof. P.P. Bliss of Rome, Pennsylvania, wrote a song for his wife to commemorate the occasion. Here are the first two verses:
” Ten years ago today
two hearts did fain begin
To walk in wedlock’s winding way
And share their mutual tin.
Ten years ago today
It seems but yestermorn
And now they come around and say
Tis time to blow the horn.
We come with a clatter and din, we come
We come with a trumpet and tray, we come,
We come, we come with a tinkle of tin
To welcome our friends today.
Hear the tinkle, tinkle, tinkle
Of the tin, of the tin.
In the dining room, the kitchen
And the hall, and the hall
With a culinary chorus
We’ll perpetuate the din
And our wishes for the weal of all.”
– Judy Jabaay, Flynn Supervisor