Letters to the Editor Newsletter

The Modern Butlers’ Journal, August 2018, Letters to the Editor

Steven Ferry

Letters to the Editor

«I am confident that you may help me eliminate my nagging ignorance of the name of the measuring tool that is shown in the attached picture. Would you know what it is called, and whether the name is identical in all (or most) English speaking countries?» B

When told it looked like a slide rule and asked how he came across it, the reader said he had learned from other channels that it was called «a double-graduated, cross timber, or carpenters’ marking-gauge, which is used in woodworking. The small metal pins are meant to scratch a mark on a piece of wood.

«It was used during my training at The International Butler Academy and was very useful to push the plates and cutlery from the edge of the table to the desired distance from the edge (with the wooden center pin). Plates may be too high to be pushed with the butler stick (1″ x 1″ x 3′). Stored in a drawer in the dining room, the bulkiness was not really bothering. The small metal pins have no use; I would actually remove them, were I to own them myself.»

Ed: We thought we would share this piece of information, although we consider such a bulky item cannot be easy to maneuver around a table full of delicate china and crystal; and apart from the benefit of being able to push items using the center pin, it seems the time-honored butler’s stick would do the job with greater ease. For the desired «pushing» function, we have found a small «L-shaped» support for a shelf, to be most adequate and convenient. 

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«It is nice to see that since you have started these interactive articles, the newsletter has become more informative and it looks like more people respond to it. Bravo! One point of criticism is the format it comes in: I find it more difficult to read now it is sent in “chapters,” which results in opening an article and having to return to the e-mail for the next one. Maybe I haven’t fully understood how it is supposed to work, but as I have said before I am a bit of a computer illiterate.» AB

Web master: I understand the difficulty, thank you (and thank you for the compliment, too). This is quite easy to work around. In the e-mail you receive, click on the «See the Modern Butlers Journal in your browser» above the masthead. This will open the same content, but in your default browser. Now, I don’t know what browser you normally use but this works in Microsoft Edge (previously known as Internet Explorer), as well as Google Chrome, and Mozilla Firefox: Click on ALL «Read more…» links by pressing the CTRL button at the same time. This will open each article in a new tab (thus, if there are 10 articles in the MBJ, you will have 10 new tabs). Normally, the tab next to the current tab is the first article, and the tab at the furthest right is the last article. If you read each article and close the tab after finishing, the browser will normally take you to the next tab/article. I hope this suggestion helps!

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I am interested in making the career transition to butling over the next few years and so attending butler school, as I have no domestic experience. I am impressed by how in-depth your site is and recently read your article on finding a first domestic position. From your experience, how good is The International Butler Academy, can it help me transition into butling, and what is a typical starter position for a new entrant into butling? JM

Ed: TIBA is as good as any of the schools, and you could do a lot worse. I do not know how it is now, but speak of my experience teaching there as a visiting professor 15 years ago. Such a school is not your only, but probably your best shot at entering the profession as a career changer. TIBA does try to place its graduates, so that is a plus. You might be lucky and find a butler position (or Household Manager, same thing basically) straight off, or might have to take a (rare) under-butler position. Or you might need to work as a hotel butler for a bit to show that at least you are familiar with the service world. It might be a good idea, before you plop down 15K for a course, if you were to plop down $150 and read the two-volume Serving the Wealthy book to get a better feel of what it takes to work for high-end clients. You are obviously digging into the web site, and that is a start, but the book will give a more complete picture. That might confirm for you the direction you want to take, or it might put you off and save you $15K and two months of earning power. After that, you might also consider doing the online course we run, if you are looking at transitioning in a few years. It can be done while working and only costs $2,500, taking about 400 hours to do, or 4 hours a week over two years, let’s say. If you were to do that, and then do TIBA, you would have two certificates and the depth of knowledge available from the online course plus the hands-on/field trips available from TIBA. That is what one of our current students is doing—he just completed two weeks at the Rick Fink school in England, which gave him hands-on, face-to-face field experience that complemented our online course very well. I am not trying to sell you stuff, just offer a bit of advice for an optimum outcome for you, based on my understanding of your situation—if I have it wrong, I apologize.

“You are very perceptive—I shall order the books as you suggested for a feel of the high-end service world. and taking the online course before a brick-and-mortar school to help solidify my knowledge. Thanks for clarifying a realistic path towards becoming a butler. I just noticed that TIBA now has butlering internships. What are the differences between butlers, personal assistants, and household managers? There seems to be an overlap since the TIBA diploma certifies you to be a butler, household manager, and personal assistant, and the duties do seem to overlap.” JM

Ed: I am very glad to learn that TIBA is providing internships. In which case, that would add greatly to their value when you decide on the school you wish to attend. The original butler school was Sir Ivor Spencer’s in London and he billed the school as covering Butlers, HMs, and PAs. Since the downsizing of staff began a century ago, the butler has taken on various hats that used to belong to one particular trade—such as valet. Hence, it is best to be trained as, and able to operate as, butler/HM and PA. And chef. And chauffeur. And even master gardener….etc. The more skills, the more of a valuable commodity you will be and easier to fit into the requirements of a greater number of prospective employers. As for the difference between butlers/butler administrators and HMs/EMs, they are just the UK versus US titles for what amounts to roughly the same duties. A butler administrator is like an EM and HM, but a butler title on its own generally refers to the old style, formal butler who managed the guests, visitors, food and wine, without the administrative duties of running the whole household. A PA, of course, works directly for the principal and is not responsible for the management of the estate at all.


The Institute is dedicated to raising service standards by broadly disseminating the mindset and superior service expertise of that time-honored, quintessential service provider, the British Butler, updated with modern people skills, and adapted to the needs of modern employers and guests in staffed homes, luxury hotels, resorts, spas, retirement communities, jets, yachts & cruise ships around the world.