SAT workers celebrate anniversary

Party held for the employees of the SAT company AB Stockholmstelefon in the luxurious Grand Hotel outside Stockholm. The occasion was the demise of the company after its network had been sold to the state-owned PTT.

On June 11, 1908, Stockholms Allmänna Telefonaktiebolag (SAT) celebrated its 25th anniversary with a festive banquet at Restaurant Hasselbacken for salaried employees and guests. The party for skilled workers, however, was delayed until January 2, 1909, due to contract negotiations then in progress. More than 500 workers plus some 30 collection agents and errand boys were invited. Dress consisted of long tailcoats, which were a more stylish forerunner to tuxedos.

Originally, plans called for the party to be held in the company’s premises at the corner of Malmskillnadsgatan and Norra Smedjegatan. Gluhwein, a hot schnapps with sugar and spices, would be served in the new equipment hall, where tables would be set up along the hall’s long walls next to the “multiple switch racks.” All rooms would have “enhanced illumination with arc lamps and Lux lamps” powered by lighting machines. Electric lighting at this time was considered something very exclusive.

For unknown reasons, the original plans were not carried out. Instead, the party was held at Restaurant Runan at Brunkebergstorg.

The party began at 8:00 p.m. Upon arrival, guests received a gratuity that increased in proportion to the length of their employment. In most cases, it consisted of a five-crown gold piece that could be exchanged for 3.5 liters of spirits or a four-kilogram ham, for example. The gratuity was presented by a supervisor who knew the worker personally.

The evening started with gluhwein, followed by an evening meal in the large and small banquet rooms on the upper floor. Guests were served a first course consisting of marinated herring, salt beef, German sausage, cheese, butter and three kinds of bread (including rye bread). Thereafter, ham, Christmas sausage, potatoes, green peas, beets and apple sauce were served. Beer and aquavit were served with the food.

According to the budget, which was very strict, the portions consisted of 16 grams of German sausage, 20 grams of meat, 100 grams of Christmas sausage and 100 grams of ham per person. With herring, bread and vegetables, the allotted serving could be considered generous, even for a manual laborer. With regard to liquid refreshments, however, the allotment was somewhat stingier, consisting of only six deciliters of beer (less than two mugs) and just 5 centiliters of schnapps, which was very little in 1909. For dessert, pie (two pieces per person) with custard sauce was served.

After retiring to three smaller rooms for coffee and cigars, the guests returned to the banquet rooms where steaming punch bowls had been brought forth. (Swedish arrack punch was served warm at this time.)

After drinking two cups of gluhwein, a little more than a mug of beer, one aquavit and two servings of punch, guests should not have been too tipsy, although there was apparently some fear that this might occur, since specific instructions were issued that “engineers were to inform supervisors, who in turn were to ensure that disturbing incidents did not arise. If any of the guests became overly exhilarated, the most appropriate measure should be to order a hackney carriage and request a co-worker to accompany the individual in question home.”

As punch was served, several speeches were held, and the opera singer Oscar Bergström performed. The banquet ended at midnight, when the guests were offered a second cigar to take home.

Author: Edward Blom


Telephone tower


Cost estimate for a party for 500 employees.

© Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson and Centre for Business History

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