"THE WORLD'S FIRST CELEBRITY MIXOLOGIST" AND FATHER OF THE COCKTAIL: TRADE CARD FOR JAMES ASHLEY OF THE LONDON PUNCH-HOUSE, CIRCA 1750
ASHLEY, James. London Punch-House trade card. London: Thomas Worlidge, circa 1750. Card measures 6 by 7-1/2 inches, engraved on recto only. $8500.
Rare original 18th-century trade card of James Ashley, credited with creating the drink that would become the modern cocktail at the Punch-House in London in the 18th-century, fully engraved with a portrait of Ashley flanked by the Punch-House's iconic iron punch bowls.
Drink historian David Wondrich has called Ashley "the world's first celebrity mixologist, the first man to become famous for compounding and selling a mixed drink" (Wondrich, Punch, 171). This original engraved trade card features a portrait of Ashley flanked by the elaborate pedestals topped by iron punch bowls that stood outside the front door of his London Punch-House, with the caption "James Ashley / Who at the London Punch House on Ludgate Hill 1731 / First Reduced the Price of PUNCH & rais'd its Reputation." Perhaps just as important as lowering the price was Ashley's innovation of serving smaller, individual servings, made to order for each customer—the precursor of the modern cocktail. Extensively advertised and promoted by Ashley, the London Punch-House enjoyed clientele such as William Hogarth, James Boswell, Oliver Goldsmith and Benjamin Franklin. This trade card is engraved by Ashley's friend Thomas Worlidge (dubbed "The English Rembrandt"), who also engraved portraits of Ashley's wife and one Mrs. Graywood, the bar-keep at the Punch-House.
Only slightest wear and discoloration, impression strong and vivid. Rare.