Before paper sizes were standardised as A1/2/3/4 etc, paper was named according to weight and size. Some may remember foolscap, and other paper names were Imperial, Elephant, Atlas and Antiquarian. Paper that was uncut, usually for printing had different names – Royal, Double Pott, Demy and Double Crown being some. Amongst all these many paper names, a group of printers, publishers, illustrators and book designers decided on the name Double Crown Club when they established a dining club in the 1920s. The aim of the Club was to foster the exchange of ideas and good printing, and the first meeting was on October 31st 1924; the Double Crown Club has carried out its purpose ever since.
Four times a year the Double Crown Club arranges a dinner, now held at the Savile Club in London, and special invitations and menus for each one are designed by the Club, and occasionally by the invited speaker. This was the case when I was asked to speak, and, as I was going to talk about quills, vellum, mediæval manuscripts and a few pieces of my work, I used a background of vellum, an illuminated letter T, and incorporated the stages of mediæval miniature production on the invitation and on the back of the menu. Inside both, as a background, I used a photograph of cut quills.
The Savile Club is a magnificent building in Brook Street, London, with a stunning staircase and wonderfully elegant ballroom. J P Morgan (of the bank and Morgan Library and Museum in New York) had the building re-designed for his wife, Fanny, ‘to entertain in suitable style’, and style it certainly has!
The Double Crown Club use the ballroom at the Savile Club for their dinners and it is the most elegant room. It looked wonderful when set out for the dinner, with crystal chandeliers, long, tall windows, a decorated frieze, and a beautifully painted sky with clouds on the ceiling.
The numbers that I’d written for the tables looked marvellous in the table stands. I had used a large Automatic pen, with a piece of kitchen sponge pushed in between the tines. I then fed red and blue Schmincke gouache into the sponge for a variegated effect. When the ink was dry I used Schmincke goldpearl and a pointed pen to add a bit of sparkle.
And after a delicious meal all was set for me to ‘Take my quill for a walk’, which included the Wolf Hall Book of Hours, quill cutting, the differences between vellum and parchment, and some of my recent work.