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Collection highlights: Tom Paine’s desk

Tom Paine's desk

Engraving on Tom Paine's deskLittle known in the UK, the ideas of Thomas Paine fuelled the revolutions in America and France. Paine was born in Norfolk and travelled to both countries. He used this table in 1792 to write the second part of his famous work, The Rights of Man. In the book he argued against hereditary governments and advocated the introduction of income tax to distribute wealth. The British Clio Rickman, Citizen of the Worldgovernment were outraged and Paine was forced to flee to France. The book was an instant best seller and was read aloud in pubs and coffee shops.

The table actually belonged to Thomas Clio Rickman who lived at number 7 Upper Marylebone Street, London and whom Paine stayed with in 1792 before fleeing to France following the publication of The Rights of Man. Rickman would proudly show his visitors the table, now sanctified by his plaque:

‘This plate is inscribed by Tho. Clio Rickman in remembrance of his dear friend Thomas Paine who on this table in the year 1792 wrote several of his invaluable works’.

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