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In the 1750s the Reverend Francis Gastrell cut down the mulberry tree supposedly planted by Shakespeare at New Place, Stratford-upon- Avon, having grown tired of tourists asking to see it. The second half of the eighteenth century saw a brisk trade in souvenir objects claimed to be made of wood from Shakespeare’s tree. Tobacco stoppers such as this were common and were used for pressing down tobacco in a pipe. It is one of many objects later added to the cabinet of ‘Oriental’ manuscripts and curiosities presented by George Lewis in 1727. Its provenance is unknown. In 1817 the Library was given a piece of mulberry wood from Shakespeare’s tree, but this was a different item and was later donated to the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre museum in Stratford.
Classmark: Lewis cabinet