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The National Sporting Library & Museum is closed today and tomorrow, December 31 and January 1, for the New Year holiday. We will be open again on January 2. The staff of NSLM would like to wish our friends, family, guests and members a joyous New Year!

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A short one today! Izaak Walton (1594 – 1683) is best known for writing the influential The Compleat Angler, a guide to the culture and spirit of fly fishing that grew and expanded over the course of Walton’s life. It’s considered a major classic in the fly fishing world, and NSLM is lucky enough to possess a wonderful collection of early editions of The Compleat Angler in the John H. Daniels Collection.

Don't let the size fool you!
Don’t let the size fool you!

This book face measures 5 3/4″ tall by 3 3/8″ wide. This size is called duodecimo, the Italian for twelfth, because it’s one twelfth the size of a full folio. This size is often abbreviated 12mo. If you’ve ever seen that abbreviation around, now you know what it means. Use your new-found knowledge to impress your friends and family!

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I believe that to be a Latin inscription on the left page. The “long” or “medial” s is seen there, too. That’s the “s” that looks similar to a modern “f.”

You’re learning all kinds of things today!

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“And now the blessing of St. Peters Master be with mine. And the like be upon my benefit ingenuous Scholer, and upon all that love Vertue, and to be quiet, and go a fishing.”

Another recent addition to the NSLM trophy collection, which is sure to be a favorite, is the Maryland Hunt Cup trophy,  won by Mr. T. B. Blakiston in 1912, on board the horse Conby.

Maryland Hunt Cup, April 20th, 1912, sterling silver, 15 x 7 ½ inches, Gift of Thomas B. Blakiston, Jr., 2014

The Maryland Hunt Cup, one of the most challenging steeplechase races in the world, was first run in 1894. The four-mile race with twenty-two fences has been run at Worthington Valley (northwest of Baltimore) since 1922.

Engraving on the top of the tankard – “Established 1894” (in Roman numerals)

I wonder if Mr. Blakiston celebrated his win by taking a big drink of champagne from his new tankard trophy? He certainly would have deserved it! The fences in this timber race are up to 4 ft 10 inches high. Yikes.

1921 Maryland Hunt Cup advertisement
1921 Maryland Hunt Cup advertisement

This little piece of Hunt Cup ephemera from the NSLM holdings advertises the 1921 race. The fences still look pretty much the same – solid wood, post and rail. The early courses also included deep ditches, creeks and railroad tracks, but those were removed from the course after 1922 (Phew!).

Nicole Stribling
Curator of Permanent Collections

The NSLM manuscripts collection is in the F. Ambrose Clark Rare Book Room, which houses the Library’s rare books collection as well as the John H. Daniels Collection. One of the manuscripts donated by John and Martha Daniels is a letter from Edith Somerville to Virginia sportsman Harry Worcester Smith in 1924. Somerville was a prominent author of sporting novels with her  cousin “Martin Ross” (Violet Martin).

Worcester Smith had written to Somerville to inquire about the possibility of resurrecting fox hunting in the West Carbery country of Ireland. Somerville responded with a long letter outlining all the considerations: the climate and conditions of country, as well as social concerns following a brutal five years of Irish conflict.
Worcester Smith had written to Somerville to inquire about the possibility of resurrecting fox hunting in the West Carbery country of Ireland. Somerville responded with a long letter outlining all the considerations: the climate and conditions of country, as well as social concerns following a brutal five years of Irish conflict.
"It is, of course, supremely necessary to keep on good terms with everyone, & specially the farmers. The land now belongs to them, so Hunting is at their mercy. I am glad to say that I found them invariable friendly, (but I & my people have always lived here & been good friends with them, which of course helps very much)."
“It is, of course, supremely necessary to keep on good terms with everyone, & specially the farmers. The land now belongs to them, so Hunting is at their mercy. I am glad to say that I found them invariable friendly, (but I & my people have always lived here & been good friends with them, which of course helps very much).”
Somerville's signature. On the reverse of the page, she requests the return of the letter for re-use.
Somerville’s signature. On the reverse of the page, she requests the return of the letter for re-use.

John Connolly
George L. Ohrstrom, Jr. Librarian

Today I get to share an item of which we’re very proud at NSLM. This is the original manuscript of “Riding to Hounds on Long Island,” an essay written by Theodore Roosevelt in July 1886 for the Century Illustrated Monthly Magazine. I’m always certain to bring this out for viewing when we have visitors on tour at the Library.

The essay is beautifully bound and is part of the John H. Daniels Manuscripts Collection.
The essay is beautifully bound and is part of the John H. Daniels Manuscripts Collection.
Red leather and gilt decorations grace this custom binding.
Red leather and gilt decorations adorn the custom binding.
The first page. The essay is written on plain note paper.
The first page. The essay is written on plain note paper.
A photograph of Teddy opposite page one. In 1886, Roosevelt was 28 years old.
A photograph of Teddy opposite page one. In 1886, Roosevelt was 28 years old.
The pages are folded into thirds, presumably stored in a pocket or in an envelope.
The pages are folded into thirds, presumably stored in a pocket or in an envelope.
Guests often comment on the edits in the draft body. Even future presidents aren't above revising their work! In the digital era, edits are mainly invisible.
Guests often comment on the edits in the draft body. Even future presidents aren’t above revising their work! In the digital era, edits are mainly invisible.
Roosevelt's signature on the final page of the manuscript.
Roosevelt’s signature on the final page of the manuscript.
The essay was published as the first item in The Century Illustrated Monthly Magazine, July 1886.
The essay was published as the first item in The Century Illustrated Monthly Magazine, July 1886.
Roosevelt's main theme is a defense of foxhunting as a sport compatible with American culture. He refutes the notion that the practice is too British.
Roosevelt’s main theme is a defense of foxhunting as a sport compatible with American culture. He refutes the notion that the practice is too British.
"It goes without saying that the man who takes to hunting, not because it is a manly sport, but because it is done abroad, is a foolish snob; but, after all, he stands about on the same intellectual level with the man who refuses to take it up because it happens to be liked on the other side of the water."
“It goes without saying that the man who takes to hunting, not because it is a manly sport, but because it is done abroad, is a foolish snob; but, after all, he stands about on the same intellectual level with the man who refuses to take it up because it happens to be liked on the other side of the water.”

In addition to paintings, sculpture, drawings and prints, the NSLM art collections include some wonderful examples of decorative art objects. Some of the most popular pieces are the shiny silver trophies, of all shapes and sizes. Since it’s highly unlikely that I will ever win any trophy as grand as these (though I never give up hope!), I will have to make do with caring for these precious objects here at the museum. But I will do so happily, because they are real treasures – delightful to look at and fun to research and study.

One of the trophy display cases in the Library.
One of the trophy display cases in the Library.

One of our most recent additions is the new National Sporting Library & Museum Cup. This is actually an active trophy which will be awarded every year at the running of the Virginia Fall Races.

National Sporting Library & Museum Cup, Elkington & Co., 1920, sterling silver, 12 ½ x 12 x 10 ¼ inches, Gift of Juliana May, 2014

The Virginia Fall Races, a steeplechase meet held every October at Glenwood Park in Middleburg, was founded in 1955 by Theodora Randolph (1905 – 1996) and George L. Ohrstrom, Sr. (1894 – 1955). The NSLM Cup (formerly called The Chronicle Cup) is a timber race run in memory of George L. Ohrstrom, Sr. and his son George L. Ohrstrom, Jr. (1927 – 2005), co-founders of the National Sporting Library and former owners of the Chronicle of the Horse.

The Warwick style trophy vase was crafted by the silversmiths Elkington & Company of London, in 1920. The NSLM name and logo engravings were added in 2014 by the generous donor, Juliana May.

(Pardon the iphone reflection!) These stamps, called hallmarks, identify who made this object and when they made it.
(Pardon the iphone reflection!) These stamps, called hallmarks, identify who made this object and when they made it.

“E&Co.” indicates the makers.

Lion PassantThe next symbol of a “Lion Passant” indicates sterling silver.

Leopard HeadThe “Leopard Head” means made in the city of London.  The letter “e” (with that particular border) is for the year 1920.

 

I’m looking forward to sharing more about our other trophies soon. (Even if I don’t win them myself!)

Nicole Stribling
Curator of Permanent Collections