I've always believed it's bad idea to apologise with a gift.
A gift is a symbolic, shorthand way of publicly expressing a private feeling. If there is one occasion to avoid shortcuts and symbols it is during an apology.
Plus, who wants to be reminded of the time they were wronged? Plus, an apology gift has never worked...or has it?
One historical figure proves me wrong: Samuel Pepys.
Generally speaking, the diary of a civil servant is unlikely to arouse or sustain high levels of interest. The diary of Samuel Pepys is different.
Born during the English Civil War, Pepys lived through the Great Fire of London, survived both the plague and numerous extramarital encounters and wrote all about it in his diary.
One diary entry contains our historical gift.
Sunday 1st November 1663
(Lord’s day). This morning my brother’s man […] brought me as a gift from my brother, a velvet hat, very fine to ride in, and the fashion, which pleases me very well, to which end, I believe, he sent it me, for he knows I had lately been angry with him.
It’s not clear what brother Thomas did to make Samuel angry but the velvet hat was able to placate him.
It seems like a fitting gift given that both sons took an interest in fashion. Thomas followed his father into the tailoring trade and Samuel placed a number of orders for clothing with Thomas. One such order includes a rather opulent 'gowne of purple shagg, trimmed with gold'.
Sadly, Thomas followed a less fortunate path than his brother, dying young and in debt.
I tried to find a picture of a velvet hat from around that time but didn't have much luck. I found this picture on Pinterest which gives an overview of hats between 1600 and 1700.
The National Maritime Museum is holding a major exhibition on Samuel Pepys, his life and times. It runs until the 28th March. Find out more
If you're interested in reading the diary of Samuel Pepys, I'll put a link to it below: