An Invitation to Dinner

Week 4 of the #52Ancestors challenge is “An Invitation to Dinner”.

Following on from my previous post about the Schwartzs of Copenhagen.  I’ve been using a combination of google translate, along with my Scanmarker Air to translate Jorgen Bast’s 1951 book “Schwartzerne I Sværtegade”, from Danish to English.  Both of these methods give a less than perfect translation but they are good enough to get the general idea of the text.  If you have never used a Scanmarker Air digital pen or similar, I thoroughly recommend them (and I don’t get commission).

There is a chapter in the book called “Arbejde – Men Også Fest” which translated means “Work – but also party“.  I like to think “All work and no play, makes Johan a dull boy”. This chapter explains that Johan Georg Schwartz was recognised as an excellent craftsman and hard worker, but given his clientele, he was invited to many dinners, balls, masquerade balls, carnivals, concerts and the like, by those I like to call the “rich and famous”.  Fortunately, he kept memorabilia from the events he attended (must be where I get my ‘hoarding’ gene from), and a menu found in his belongings, has been reproduced in Bast’s book, see below.


The description given in the book says that this is a “menu card from the royal dinner at the stock exchange”.  The date of the dinner was 10 July 1862.   The royal exchange or stock exchange is known in Danish as the Børsyn or Børsbygningen.  The photo at the top of this page is a modern day event taking place in the very same room where Johan Georg participated in the Royal Dinner.  There is a sketch of the dinner in Bast’s book, and in comparison, it looks that little has changed except for the big round lights. You can do a virtual tour of this opulent building by clicking on this link

I haven’t been able to translate all of the gastronomical delights offered on the menu, but I can tell you that the first item Skilpadde Suppe, is turtle soup, and that some of the items translate to green peas, ham, fillets of young turkeys, cabbage, champagne jelly, and cake.  I think I may have passed on the turtle soup, but this was certainly one dinner I would have liked to have been invited to.

Ironically, at the same time as my Danish ancestors were living the grand life in Denmark, my Irish great grandfather was enduring a horrific voyage from Ireland to Australia on board the Erin-go-Bragh, after being evicted from his home.  The Erin-go-Bragh arrived in Moreton Bay just two weeks after this fine dinner had been served in Copenhagen.

Scanmarker Air – I mentioned in this week’s blog that I was using a Scanmarker Air. These amazing digital pens allow you to transfer information from a typed page into a word document (or similar) simply by running the marker along the text.  They also have a translate function, so that as you run the marker along the Danish text (in this example), it prints the English translation on to your screen.  It also has a function that reads the text out loud to you as you scan the text.  Here’s the link for more information – Scanmarker Air.


Bast, Jorgen, Schwartzerne I Sværtegade, København, 1951.

Børsbygningen,, viewed 27 January, 2018.

Burke, Alexander James McInnes, Gunyah, Grit and Gantry, A Saga of the Erin-Go-Bragh and of an era of pioneer settlement & shipping in Queensland, Milton, 1985.