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  • "The term 'd'oyley' (now 'doily') derives from the famous late-seventeenth-century London draper D'Oyley, who was a supplier of the materials for the inexpensive woolen mats or small, often fringed, napkins that were used during the fruit and dessert course to wipe ones fingers after the dinner napkins had been removed. The Workmen's Guide further defined the term. Doilies, it suggested, 'may be either white or colored, and are sometimes open, of six nails square; they are generally fringed.' The idea was to protect the white dinner napkins from fruit stains.

    By the late nineteenth century, doilies were often brought out with the finger bowls and were used either as napkins or to protect the bare table after the tablecloth had been removed prior to the fruit course."

    —Susan Williams, Savory Suppers and Fashionable Feasts: Dining in Victorian America (New York: Pantheon Books, 1985), 72

    April 13, 2010