Shakespeare's Mulberry Wood, Covered Cup
William Shakespeare bought New Place for his family in 1597.
In 1759, the new owner, the Rev. Francis Gastrell, incited local opinion by demolishing the entire New Place property, including the famous mulberry tree, which had reputedly been planted by Shakespeare following James 1's directive to encourage the silk weaving trade.
Gastrell subsequently sold the wood which was turned into various objects connected with Shakespeare. This new trade was very much assisted by the festival organised by David Garrick in Stratford on Avon in 1769 to honour the memory of the great man. Garrick himself bought a number of objects made from the wood.
In his play The Jubilee, Samuel Foote who although one of Garrick's oldest friends, mercilessly sent up the who event which he considered to be more about Garrick than Shakespeare. Things were not helped by the fact the festival was virtually flooded out by three days of continuous rain.
He presents a tinker selling a "Toothpick cases, needle cases, punch ladles, tobacco stoppers, inkstands, nutmeg graters and all sorts of boxes made out of the famous Mulberry Tree, who is challenged by a second trader with the accusation that "His goods are made of old chairs and stools and colored to cheat gentlefolks with."
The two most well-known figures associated with these items are Thomas Sharp and John Marshall. W.W. is not recorded although the quality of the workmanship is exceptional.
Ex Robin Wigington Collection.
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