Miss Pauline Astor’s New Handshake

This is the first article in January of the School for Housewives 1903 series published on Jan 4, 1903, and is short article on a ‘new’ handshake demonstrated by Pauline Astor. Pauline was the first daughter, and second child of four of William Waldorf Astor, 1st Viscount Astor. William Astor was an American who was raised in Europe and was one of the richest people in America in the late 1800s.

Miss Astor Brings a New Greeting Right from England

Though English-Born, This New Greeting Is American in Its Fervor

Not a Finger-Touching Greeting, but a Good, Hearty Striking of Hands

Miss Pauline Astor, daughter of William Waldorf Astor, of England, and heiress to untold millions, has introduced a new handshake in American society.

Briton though she be, the handclasp smacks of things American, for there is about it a degree of heartiness that is by no means typical of the Englishman.

It cannot be denied that there is some kind of charm about shaking the hand of a young woman who is destined to be the richest in the world. One needs no great stretch of imagination to realize that the dainty hand will some time have the power to sign a check that would ransom king or emperor.

Perhaps it is that fact that makes one observe with great care just how the dazzling handshake is delivered. At any rate, it is safe to assume that Philadelphia society is in a receptive good and that Miss Astor’s innovation meets with its entire approval.

The truth is society everywhere has a strong predilection for fads. It gratefully accepts whatever comes to it in this guise without taking the trouble to go into an analysis of its merits. So it was with Miss Astor’s handshake. It was a fad, and society liked it. But in addition to the fact that it is the introduction of one of the most polished young women in the world, there are other features to recommend it.

There is no denying that it is a distinct improvement over the highlighted, fastidious, finger-tipping touch with which society people have been won’t to greet each other for years.

The new handclasp is no characterless, light-fingered shake, but a hearty grasp. Its exponents show the warmth of old friends greeting each other after a long separation.

The arm is extended naturally in front of the body and the hands are brought sharply together in a strong, firm clasp. It is an honest handshake. There is no indecision about it, and there is no needless effusiveness about it, either, for the hand is instantly withdrawn. It is only natural and unaffected.

Miss Astor has been visiting her uncle, Mr. James W. Paul Jr., at his country home at Radnor. Philadelphia society leaders first witnessed the handshake, now its own by adoption, when she appeared in company with her cousin, Miss Ellen Drexel Paul, at the annual Radnor Hunt breakfast on Thanksgiving morning.

Miss Astor rode her cousin’s hunter Dumnorix in the Ladies’ Cup class for the best riding and jumping, but although she had style and a firm, light hand, she only captured fourth place, losing to Mrs. John R. Valentine, Mrs. Robert E. Strawbridge and Miss Josephine Mather, who won first, second and third, respectively.

It was when she was congratulating the winners that the society folk first noted the handshake, which was to them entirely now.

Miss Astor is naturally exclusive in her tastes. One indication of this is the fact that she never shakes hands with any person to whom she is first introduced. She reserves this favor for her intimate friends or when, as a good loser, she congratulates those who win from here.

The manner in which a person shakes hands is very often a strong indication of character. Miss Astor’s friends say that her method is typical of her – exclusive in general, but firm in her friendships.

She is only 20 years old and has been trained in an atmosphere of exclusiveness, which in her father’s home has been termed snobbishness. She is always accompanied by her French governess, Mme. Flory, who previously served as governess in the families of the French aristocracy.

Miss Astor, in her natural qualities, resembles her mother, who was the beautiful Miss Mary Dahlgren Paul, of Philadelphia. The young girl has often said that she would prefer to be an American and live in America, but her father is filled with Anglomania prejudice, and hates everything “Yankee,” as he sneeringly calls it.

Miss Astor could not be counted as pretty, but she possesses a subtle charm that wins the hearts of all with whom she associates. She is fond of outdoor life and loves the beautiful thoroughbreds in her father’s great stables. She has been reported many times to be engaged. Among others, the rich Duke of Roxburghe has sued for her hand but he failed, and the nearest Miss Astor has ever come to falling in love was with Captain H. Frazer, the “tallest and handsomest” guardsman in England.

Marion Harland

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