According to family tradition, this baton belonged to Fermier General André Haudry de Soucy who held the function of maître d’hôtel (butler) to King Louis XVI. This baton was the attribute of the person who was effectively at the head of the unit of Officiers de Bouche during royal meals. The baton was a symbol of command and, in the hands of the maître d’hôtel, it had a special importance during the ceremonial of official diners at the Court. Its presence as well as that of the nave and padlock were characteristic of the Grand Couvert. Therefore, it was exclusively carried by the maître d’hôtel in charge and this mark of responsibility clearly indicated that the holder of the baton was the only person authorized to supervise the services, inform the king and lead the procession of dishes. During meals, he stood next to the royal table. The Premier Maître d’hôtel only carried his baton on ceremonial days and during feasts (…) He exerted his authority on the Service de Bouche. The mission of the Maison de Bouche was to look after the supply, preparation and service involving all foodstuffs, meals or snacks reserved for the King himself, his children and guests.
A baton of maître d’hôtel to Queen Maria-Theresa of Austria, dated 1670, was recently part of a donation to the Société des Amis de Versailles (Butler’s baton in wood and copper – circa 1670 – arms of Jacques-Antoine Justinien de Robec, Baton de Palières).
RUCH AND SILVER-GILT
The baton exists with its original leather case
Height : 152 cm
Extract from article – Le règne de Louis XV – Versailles et les tables royales en Europe – 17ème et 19ème siècles – Musée National des châteaux de Versailles et de Trianon – 1993/1994
“The baton was a symbol of command and, in the hands of the maître d’hôtel, it had a special importance during the ceremonial of official diners at the Court.