More about the Double Crown Club connection

added August 29, 2010, after consulting two works at the Newberry Library, Chicago:

    The Double Crown Club: Register of Past and Present Members,

        Privately Printed for the Members of the Club in Celebration of the Hundredth

        Meeting Held in May 1949

    James Moran, The Double Crown Club: A History of Fifty Years, London: Westerham

        Press, 1974

Stanley Morison was heavily if turbulently involved from the club’s start in 1924, even in its ur-Geschichte going back to 1921. Turbulently, because he appears to have been a very opinionated, ultimatum-inclined, take-it-or-leave-it type who stood ostentatiously at the brink of one of the (considerable number of) professional and personal chasms inside the Double Crown Club: Morison “proclaimed himself no artist, but an industrialist, and stated the prime objective of the printer to be the production of the greatest numbers in the shortest time at the smallest cost.” (Moran) Not likely to go over well with those members inclined to think the Book an art whose apogee had been reached by William Morris at his hand-press. And Morison felt much the same in return, for example sending the club’s president the following message when he objected to a talk on typography by another member, one James Shand, that he considered error-ridden: “Dear John Carter: I shall clear out if there is any more of that Shandy-guff.” But his own expertise was such that he cast a big shadow in the club, in a positive way, being its dinners’ main speaker at least eight times.

    Frank Sidgwick was also a central figure, on the Committee from 1925 to 1931, and president of the club in 1926. When the club reached its first real existential crisis over internal fissures of various kinds, in 1933, Moran notes that: “Frank Sidgwick replied that he had belonged to a good many ‘dining-plus-object’ clubs but he had never enjoyed any of them as much as the Double Crown; but he always thought that there was too high a proportion of gastronomy to the typography or bibliography involved.”


    S. C. Roberts became a member of the Committee from its second organizing meeting on July 21, 1924, apparently recommended by Stanley Morison. He was an active member of the Committee, even at meetings he couldn’t attend, conveying his thoughts, suggestions, recommendations, and votes in writing or even by phone. He was on the Committee even before Sidgwick, who joined it January 19, 1925. The Register of Past and Present Members makes this nice comment: “As a writer he has a great many volumes to his credit on the three subjects which lie nearest his heart: Dr Johnson, Sherlock Holmes, and Cambridge.”

    So Morison, Sidgwick, and Roberts all knew each other well during the pertinent period around 1926 when Morison and Christopher Morley met in New York and Morley’s Holmesian enthusiasm was rekindled by the mutual canonical trivia quiz into which they fell. In Morison’s and Roberts’ case, they knew each other even earlier, and perhaps that was true of Roberts and Sidgwick as well since they were both publishers out of Cambridge backgrounds. Would Sherlock Holmes never have come up amongst Morison, Sidgwick and Roberts in the 1920s and early ‘30s, when the final tales were appearing, Sherlock Holmes movies were coming out, Conan Doyle died in 1930, and the first Complete editions were being issued?

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