The Sublime Society of Beef Steaks. Pickles not allowed till after the third helping.

Walter Arnold, The Life and Death of the Sublime Society of Beef Steaks (London: Bradbury, Evans, & Co., 1871). 7 plates (incl. 6 mounted albumen silver prints). Graphic Arts division GAX 2008 in process.

“Like Briton’s island lies our steak,
A sea of gravy bounds it;
Shalots, confus’dly scattered, make
The rockwork that surrounds it.
Your isle’s best emblem these behold,
Remember ancient story:
Be, like your grandsires, first and bold,
And live and die with glory.”

I am posting this Saturday at 5:00 p.m., in honor of the weekly meeting of the Sublime Society of Beef Steaks. From 1735 to 1869, the 24 members of this London dining club, along with their 24 guests, met to eat a beefsteak dinner, drink plenty of wine and sing. Needless-to-say, it was for men only.

Their visual identity was the gridiron and as the location of their dinners changed over 134 years, the original gridiron of the society moved along with them. In each venue, it was ceremonially hung in the centre of the ceiling, over the presidents chair. An albumen photograph of the gridiron is seen above, tipped into Arnold’s book as its frontispiece.

Some of the best known members of the Sublime Society include David Garrick, William Hogarth, The Prince of Wales (soon to be King George IV), and Samuel Johnson. More about the group can be found at:
and in John Timbs (1801-1875), Clubs and Club Life in London. With anecdotes of its famous coffee houses, hostelries, and taverns, from the seventeenth century to the present time (London: Chatto and Windus [1872]). Firestone Library (F) 1465.906.11