At first glance it seems like the sort of club where the first rule might just be ‘you do not talk about the club’. That's because at first glance you wouldn't have found very much: there's no website, no publicity and very little written about the occasional gatherings known as The Double Crown Club.
So, having been very kindly invited as guests of the ever generous Phil Abel, we set out on a cold and windy February night to a private club in London's swanky Mayfair to see what it was all about.
Keepsake menu printed especially for each gathering
Started in 1924, the Double Crown Club was, and still is, a dinner club and society of printers, publishers, book designers and illustrators. With a select, invitation-only membership, they meet "no fewer than four times a year, but no more than six", for dinner and drinks, rounded off with a talk. This was dinner number 422.
We arrived slightly early to be shown through a very grand, heavily wooden panelled reception and downstairs to the cloakroom, before making our way up the wide, curling, deeply carpeted double staircase to the 'ballroom'.
That staircase (image from www.savileclub.co.uk)
Drinks in hand, we stood amongst the small crowd of members that had already gathered, trying to work out who we recognised: Ken Garland, Gerry Cinamon, Sebastian Carter, David Pearson… we were, it's safe to say, in pretty esteemed company. Gulp!
The tables were laid out around us like a wedding reception, complete with a seating plan on the obligatory easel. The room, actually an old ballroom, apparently, was the sort of ornate splendor that you'd fully expect from an old members club in Mayfair. A little mingling, a few awkward introductions (Us? Well, erm, we run a small press… thingy… erm…) and dinner was served. All three lovely courses of it. The wine, it must be said, wasn't bad either. Then it was time for the talk, Ann Pillar giving a fascinating history into the life and work of Edward Wright. We must admit that he was new to us, and we'd only encountered a tiny amount of his work before – most notably his rotating three sided sign at new Scotland Yard, which features his bespoke lettering.
The menu for the night, a beautiful meal
And that was it. As soon as we'd arrived it seemed like it was time to leave. No sworn oath of silence, no secret handshakes, just a thoroughly good evening, slightly giddy heads and the specially printed menu to remember it by. And that was our evening at the 422nd meeting of the Double Crown Club.
A massive thanks, once again, to Phil Abel.