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While visiting the immense home of Berthe Honore Palmer (Chicago's "Queen of the White City") one day, Isabella Gardner was given a tour by the woman's son. Entering the pantry, he proudly showed the family's collection of gold and silver plates and several towers of porcelain dishes. "Mother," he explained, "has fifty of everything."

Was Gardner impressed? Not entirely: "What does she do," Gardner smartly inquired, "when she has a really big party?"

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