Lazy Susans: The World’s Cleverest Waitress

George III mahogany Lazy Susan, circa 1780, sold for about $3,900 by Christie’s in London in 2010. Photo credit: Christies.

George III mahogany Lazy Susan, circa 1780, sold for about $3,900 by Christie’s in London in 2010. Photo credit: Christies.

We don’t know. We just don’t know.

The origin of the term “Lazy Susan” was probably in the 20th century … it was used to promote Ovington’s $8.50 mahogany “Revolving Server or Lazy Susan” in a 1917 Vanity Fair ad. That ad also stated that the device was “the cleverest waitress in the world.”

That points to the probable origin of the device, which was first observed in Europe in the 17th century … probably as a replacement for servants. That same ad says the price of $8.50 is “an impossibly low wage for a good servant.”

Some people have tried to say Thomas Jefferson invented them … but that isn’t true. He did not use them at Monticello. These revolving devices were certainly used in the 1700s in Europe and the US, but they were called “dumb waiters.”

A dumb waiter because they could not speak?

A lazy Susan because servants were generically known as “Susan?”

No clue.

What I do know is that these are very popular with my customers!

Prices range from $75 – $100. I generally make Susans about 17″ in diameter, though I have made them larger by request.

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