Pink Elephant Coasters (Set of 4)
Artwork adapted from the original 1930s restaurant art. Set of four cork-backed coasters (10x10cm), made in the UK, with a wipe clean hard wearing gloss-finish surface.
The euphemism “seeing pink elephants” was first used in the 19th century to describe the hallucinations experienced by drinkers of absinthe, the anise-flavoured and highly alcoholic beverage associated with bohemian culture, especially among artists and writers in Paris. Vincent Van Gogh, Ernest Hemingway and Oscar Wilde were well-known absinthe drinkers.
Absinthe was banned by 1915 but the phrase remained popular up to the 1950s as a way of describing someone who had drunk too much. “I was seeing pink elephants last night” is an elegant way of admitting you had one too many.
These charming pink elephant images, and others in the series, were featured on cocktail napkins in the Cellar Bar in the basement of San Francisco’s Geary Theatre. Described as “a relaxation centre for celebrities,” actors such as Clark Gable, Marlene Dietrich and Boris Karloff are likely to have been entertained here after they performed in the theatre. The great American jazz pianist and composer Dave Brubeck also played here at the start of his career in the 1950s.
We've also found these napkins in other San Francisco establishments, such as the Coral Room, as well as unbranded napkins.