Reblogged from Jim Webster aka Tallis Steelyard:
When I was comparatively young and undoubtedly more innocent that I am now, I remember being present at an affair hosted by the ‘Port Naain Society of anonymous lady philanthropists’. The society is an interesting one. The idea was that one of the ladies would hold a dance, a soiree or some other event at their home. Lady guests would be strictly enjoined not to wear anything new for the event but instead were to secretly make a cash donation by dropping coins into one of the collecting urns. The design of the urn meant that one couldn’t see what coins were being dropped. Obviously surreptitious attempts were made to defeat this secrecy, one lady had a usurer’s clerk stand next to the urn on the reasonable assumption that his familiarity with coin meant that he could tell the amount dropped by the sound made. Subsequent hostesses have taken firm action to assume this never happened again. The presence of the urn is normally signalled by the presence of a piper, a horn player or in one case, a full string orchestra.
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