Thélème Club napkins, c. 1937
Original map by Philip Gough
Screen-print on linen, 54cm x 54cm
Museum no: L.33
This napkin is one of a series privately produced by an unknown maker in the 1930s for the members of London’s infamous Thélème Club. The print shows public lavatories marked alongside popular tourist attractions such as London Zoo and Westminster Abbey.
The toilets are charmingly represented by what appears to be jousting tents, perhaps intended to invoke a suggestion of two knights coming together wielding their erect lances. Similarly, two lavatory attendants, brandishing toilet brushes, are seen reclining in the foreground.The preservation of this napkin may be due to its potentially scandalous nature. It survived the club's bombing during the Blitz in April 1941, thought to be stored securely in a concealed safe in the walls of the club’s wine cellar, only made available to 'special' members.
The Thélème napkin has been in the Keeper’s collection since the late 1940s and was donated anonymously by a former club staff member.