Alas Brother Mace, We Are Undone

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William Heath (1794-1840), Greedy Old Nickford Eating Oysters, Leaving the Poor Devils from Minor Hells in a Starving Condition, ca. 1829. Etching with hand coloring. Graphic Arts Collection GA 2011.00893

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In 1827, William Crockford (1775-1844) opened a gambling club at 50 St. James Street, just off Pall Mall. The exclusive Crockford Club was designed and built by the British architects Benjamin and Philip Wyatt, who were also responsible for Londonderry House, the Oriental Club in Hanover Square and the Duke of York Column.

Crockford became a millionaire but is pictured here as a devil with cloven hooves and horns. At his left, within the flames of hell are his assistants: one with billiard ball eyes, one with dice eyes, and one with playing cards for a head. A few pigeons (gamblers) are flying away with half their feathers plucked. Two such reported cases were Sackville Tufton, the ninth Lord Thanet, who lost £200,000 and Lord Sefton who died having lost a similar amount.

At the bottom right, the artist signs with his “Paul Pry” figure who says “Gad he seems to astonish the natives tho…”

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Henry Blyth, Hell and Hazard or William Crockford Versus the Gentlemen of England (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1969). Firestone Library (F) HV6722.G8 L6

Arthur Lee Humphreys (1865-1946), Crockford’s; or, The Goddess of Chance in St. James’s Street, 1828-1844 (London: Hutchinson [1953]). RECAP 14653.486

Henry Turner Waddy, The Devonshire Club—and “Crockford’s,” (London: E. Nash, 1919). Firestone Library (F) DA560 .W15 1919