Of all the exclusive Victorian Gentleman’s clubs, The Extremely Successful Salesman’s (ESS) Club was often described as the most elite and important of all London clubs.
Standing in close proximity to St. James Square, the Club was noted for its magnificent smoking and dining rooms, and extensive library. It was instantly recognisable to the well-informed by the large cochlea shell engraved in the glass above the front door. The cochlea was the symbol of the Club and served as a reminder that all who entered practised the art of deep listening.
From its London inception in 1843, as a dining club for the professional classes of the City, it quickly became a place where the like-minded could share their wisdom, secrets, and methods that had provided them their success.
These success lessons were later distilled into the Club’s legendary 7 Rules, 5 Truths, and 3 Laws.
“..they shall end by becoming prosperous enough to join the Whittington Club, or the ESS Club, or the Gresham Club, or the Travellers Club; the Club is composed of merchants, bankers, and other gentlemen of known respectability. No candidate is eligible, until he has attained the age of twenty-one years”
from “An Exploration of London Society” by Ishmael Cayton Jones
Membership was by invitation only, with the weeklong initiation ceremony conducted by the new members sponsor. A week being the time expected for an inductee to grasp the 7 Rules – the minimum expected understanding – in full. After proving himself over a twelve-month period, the Apprentice was considered for the position of Neophyte, and then could move toward becoming a Journeyman.
The 5 Truths and 3 Laws were rites of passage in themselves, only revealed to those who had proven themselves to be truly worthy, and were delivered with the award of a gold, and then a platinum membership.
As a physical entity, the Club disappeared sometime after the First World War. However, the rules, laws, and truths continued under a variety of different guises, passed from generation to generation.