by Wayne Bednersh

The Mysterious Order of the Veiled Prophet is a 130-year-old civic, and philanthropic organization founded in 1878 by Charles Slayback, a wealthy grain merchant,  to promote the City of St. Louis and enrich the quality of life for its citizens.  Its  anonymous members  provide financial support and leadership for various civic projects and produce the annual Fair St. Louis, Live on the Levee celebrations and the Veiled Prophet Parade.

During the Ball, which often has as many as 10,000 invitations, the Veiled Prophet "descends from his lofty seat to the dance floor, finds his partner and escorts her from her seat to the floor where he presents her with a very pretty pearl necklace." The dance has become known as the "Royal Quadrille". While in the beginning, the honored queens only received a pearl necklace, later recipients (Special Maids of Honor and the Queen) were awarded "silver diadems centered with platinum crowns bearing diamonds, emeralds, sapphires, and pearls."  The first time a young lady was crowned as the 'belle of the ball' (Miss Hester Bates Laughlin) was in 1894.

The back of the spoon is engraved "A.B. Aug 17-92 from Papa"in script . The spoon shows a jeweler stamp for Hess and Culbertson on top of a Gorham manufacturing stamp and a patent date for '91. I don't know who A.B. was but she was not the winner of the competition in 1892 (
Miss Ellen Sturgis). Hess and Culbertson was an important jewelry company in St. Louis which had been founded as a partnership in 1883.

The V.P. Fair is now a major attaction featuring huge crowds, air shows, amusement rides, music, fireworks etc. and has been nicknamed the "
Fair St. Louis ". 

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