You’re listening to Nat Wills with “If a Table at Rector’s Could Talk” from the 1913 Ziegfield Follies.

In 1850, there were 19 millionaires in the US. But by the Gay Nineties, there were over 4,000. The champagne flowed and extravagant shows of wealth were par for the course.

Charles Rector opened his restaurant in Manhattan in 1899. It became popular with the Broadway crowd, but its most well-known patron, especially with those working for tips, was Diamond Jim Brady. Diamond Jim made his money in railroads, but cemented his legacy at the dinner table. As well as lunch, breakfast and snack tables. Catering to Brady’s stomach was, apparently, worthy of investment. Upon hearing of his fondness for the buttery, poached sole Marguery, Rector allegedly pulled his son from his third and final year of Cornell Law School to go to Paris and master the technique.

Click for more on Brady’s eating exploits.

Image: Seafood Display by Petr Kratochvil