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A Georgian Mahogany Cocoa Tree Club Ballot Box, 1880
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A Georgian Mahogany Cocoa Tree Club Ballot Box, 1880

Measurements: 44cm (17.25in) x 31cm (12.25in) x 21cm (8.25in)

£1400

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Provenance: Cocoa Tree Club, 64 St. James’s Street, London.

Mahogany with pediment top, projecting cylindrical aperture, twin ‘Yes’, ‘No’ drawers below and flanking flush carrying handles.

The Cocoa Tree Club closed its doors in 1932 when the lease expired on its St. James’s Street premises. That autumn its 18th century gaming tables, prints and smaller effects went under the hammer at Sothebys. Founded in 1711, it was the informal headquarters of the Tory party where policy and parliamentary strategy were concerted over chocolate and newspapers. Yet a significant wing of the party were crypto-Jacobites, necessitating the secret underground escape route leading from the club to a pub in Piccadilly. The club was originally also the scene of many duels until the proprietor, Wills, made members leave their weapons on the hall table. With the advent of 1845 Gaming Act, the central hollow column, decorated as a tropical tree and always known as the Cocoa Tree, provided by a convenient place for members to ditch their cards and gaming counters in the event of a raid.

 

 

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