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At the Sign of the Flagon of Gold

Dennis Wheatley's vocation before he became an author was that of wine merchant, inheriting his father's business in South Audley Street, London, in 1927.  A moderately successful business, Wheatley moved it upmarket from beer and spirits to fine wines, cognacs, liqueurs and cigars (Hoyo de Montereys, of course !) and was a supplier to the best restaurants and the nobility.  He became renowned for his fine cellar and his dinner parties were legendary.

As part of his service to the restaurants, he would often produce their wine-lists for them.  To quote from the third volume of his autobiography 'Drink and Ink' (Hutchinson & Co, London, 1979):

"... ... ... a little restaurant on the south-west corner of Leicester Square.  It was run by a man named Artaz, who had previously been at Ciro's.  It had only about a dozen tables ranged round its walls, but his clientele was most distinguished.  Several times I saw one or other of the King's sons there, dining some celebrated beauty of the moment, and the Princesses with handsome escorts.

"For Artaz I produced a special wine list for wealthy connoisseurs.  It had on it only thirteen items.  They included Clos de Vougeot 1899, Château d'Yquem 1870, Madeira 1849, Berncasteler Doktor 1895, Sherry 1750, Imperial Tokay 1763, collected from the cellars of the Kings of Spain, Saxony and Napoleon III, the Duke of Northumberland, the Marquess of Lansdowne, and the Earl of Bredalbane.

"But such lists and ones like that which I designed for my two hundred liqueurs were not the only ways of advertising with originality.  I had a large gilded flagon set up above the entrance to the shop, and on our notepaper, beneath the firm's name and address, had embossed a little gold flagon with the words 'At the sign of the Flagon of Gold'.  I had the firm's telephone number changed to 3355, which made it easy to remember, and changed our telegraphic address to Bacchus."

From DW’s autobiography, these wine lists and other advertising publications, and the material in the hands of collectors, we can identify the following, incomplete, list of DW’s wine publications :

Historic Brandies from the Palaces of the Kings of France Wheatley & Son
c 1926
The first ever appearance of DW’s work in print
The Finest Ports in the World Wheatley & Son
c 1927
A catalogue of Fine Ports in specially monogrammed bottles
200 Different Liqueurs Wheatley & Son
c 1927
In the form of a 6’ long scroll
Special Price List for Clubs & Messes Wheatley & Son
n.d.
Wine List
Anillo de Oro – the golden band of excellence Wheatley & Son
n.d.
A cigar list
At the Sign of the Flagon of Gold – Old Masters, Old Brandies and a few Great Wines Wheatley & Son
1930
Illustrated limited edition of 1,500 copies
going, going, GONE H.B.Fearon, Block & Co., Ltd & Wheatley & Son.
c 1931
Amalgamation sale catalogue

Due to the kind generosity of Tom Lyons from England, extracts from the second to last publication are shown below:

At The Sign Of The Flagon Of Gold
Cover Title Page Page 1
(Cover image) (Title Page image) (Page 1 image)
Contents Page
(Contents Page image)

For illustrations of some of Wheatley & Son’s other wine publications, visit Room Five of the Site’s Virtual Museum, Dennis Wheatley : the Wine Merchant

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This page last updated      Copyright © 2002-2006 Bob Rothwell. 2007-2017 Charles Beck.