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Fleet Street, The Devil and St. Dunstan’s Tavern, Farthing Token, Greetings Card, circa 1660,
125 x 125 mm, contained in cellophane wrapper with fitted envelope.
The Devil and St. Dunstan’s Tavern had existed at No. 2 Fleet Street next to Temple Bar since at least the middle of the 16th century, with its famous sign of St. Dunstan taking the tongs from his anvil and pulling the Devil’s nose. It was here that London’s first literary dining club, the Apollo Club, met under the direction of Ben Jonson and acquired its fame. Members during the next hundred and fifty years included Jonathan Swift, Alexander Pope and Dr. Johnson and most likely William Shakespeare.
Samuel Pepys mentions the Devil on a number of occasions and the issuer of this token, John Wadlow. He records him leading a troop of soldiers at the Royal Procession on the day preceding the coronation of Charles 11. “
22nd April 1661-“ Wadlow, the vintner at the Devil in Fleet Street, did lead a fine company of souldiers, all white comely men, in white doublets.”
In 1710 Swift writes to Stella to tell her that on the 12th October he dined at the Devil in the company of Addison and Dr. Garth.
Many eighteenth-century engravings show the sign hanging in front of Temple Bar and the play on words was popular with caricaturists.