The Wine Society, or The International Exhibition Co-operative Wine Society to give it its full name, was established in London in 1874 after the last of the great Victorian industrial exhibitions.
The Society was created, and still operates, as a co-operative with each member owning one share.
You can download a copy of The Society's rules here.
The Wine Society is a consumer co-operative owned by its members and exists exclusively for their benefit. Founded in 1874, it is an Industrial and Provident Society registered and incorporated, with limited liability* for its members, as The International Exhibition Co-operative Wine Society Limited.
The cost of a lifetime share in The Society is £40** with no obligation to purchase.
* Each member is entitled to own one share in The Society (nominal value £20) which together with any Accumulated Profit (Share Interest which can be added to the value of a share, at the discretion of the Committee, up to a rate of 5% APR) and any Sales Discount (earned on the value of members' purchases and declared at the discretion of the Committee) is at risk in the event of The Society becoming insolvent. The value attributable to a share is not repayable during the lifetime of the member. A share can only be transmitted to a third party or its value paid out on the death of a member.
** A share in The Society costs £40 made up of its nominal value £20 and a Share Premium of £20, which is not returnable. A Member may withdraw his share, issued on joining as a new member provided notice of withdrawal is received by the Secretary within 28 days after notice of his election is delivered. The subscription value (currently £40) can then be repaid. The investment in shares of The Society is not covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme or the Financial Ombudsman Service.