Wednesday, August 22, 2018

369. Ricketts, Shannon, and The Double Crown Club

In 1924, the printer Oliver Simon (Curwen Press) formed a then nameless club that somewhat later would assume the name of The Double Crown Club. This society of printers, publishers, book designers, and illustrators still exists and regularly gathers for dinner and talks. 

Co-founder was Hubert Foss, Oxford University Press editor. Apart from these two men, the earliest members of the committee were G. Wren Howard (Jonathan Cape) and Gerard Meynell (Westminster Press), while Holbrook Jackson was invited to accept the office of president. They made lists of potential members of the new 'Typographical Dining Club', (this was shortly before the definitive name had been decided upon) and invitations were sent out to forty-seven ordinary members and twelve future honorary members. Some declined, some didn't reply. 

The Florence Restaurant, Rupert Street, London (Soho Museum)
Charles Ricketts and Charles Shannon were among the honorary members, and they were present at the first official dinner on 31 October 1924 in the famous Florence Restaurant in Rupert Street - a restaurant that in the 1890s had been favoured by Oscar Wilde, and other decadent writers.

Initially, the members were all male. That changed in 1979 when Nicolete Gray became the first female member of the club.

There are several books about the history of the club. Some of the talks that members and guest have given, were published, but the main paper heritage of the Club consists of menus that were especially designed and printed for each occasion.

"Double Crown', designed by Noel Rooke (1925)

Ricketts and Shannon started as honorary members, but the honorary membership itself lead to many discussions, and when in April 1925, 'a ballot was taken for  honorary and foreign membership' (as James Moran wrote in 1974), some honorary members were not elected. That happened to John Drinkwater, Sydney Cockerell, Edward Johnston, A.W. Pollard, Robert Bridges, St John Hornby, Emery Walker, R.B. McKerrow, Lucien Pissarro, Ricketts and Shannon. This problem of the 'blackballed eminences' simmered for months.

Finally, in October 1925 the rejected honorary members were asked to become ordinary members.

Ricketts never gave a talk at the Club's meetings, nor did Shannon. Their friend Thomas Sturge Moore talked about the books of Ricketts on 21 March 1929, the text of which was never published, and I don't know whether the subject was present in the room.