Ceramic Percheron Sculpture, 1948

I’ve been exploring the Library’s photograph collection over the past few weeks, and there’s a wealth of material in that collection, and I found the following photo there:

"Presentation to HSF, Timonium Fair, 1948" Photograph Collection, National Sporting Library & Museum
“Presentation to HSF, Timonium Fair, 1948” Photograph Collection, National Sporting Library & Museum

The caption struck me as mysterious, but what intrigued me most was the ceramic sculpture. It looked awfully familiar. It’s the very same one that’s currently in our Executive Director’s office.

Ceramic Draft Horse Sculpture, Inscribed "H. S. Finney From Maryland Draft Horse Breeders Association"
Percheron, Edward Marshall Boehm, 1948. Inscription: “H. S. Finney From Maryland Draft Horse Breeders Association”

I needed some answers, and fortunately for me, NSLM Summer Intern Nicole Corbin did a wonderful job researching the sculpture. It was sculpted by Edward Marshall Boehm, a native of Maryland, who is best known for his sculptures of birds. His work can be seen at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the White House, as well as being in the collection of Queen Elizabeth II. The only other known Pecheron Work Horse sculpture by Boehm is in the collection at the Met.

Percheron Stallion, Edward Marshall Boehm, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Percheron Stallion, Edward Marshall Boehm, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Some of you may have already recognized Humphrey S. Finney (1903-1984) in the photograph. His glasses, bow tie and hair parted in the middle gave him a distinctive look! He was best known in the horse world as president, then chairman of Fasig-Tipton, the prominent horse auctioning firm. Something a little less well-known was his long relationship with draft horses.

In recognition for his annually sponsoring the draft horse classes at the Maryland State Fair, the Maryland Draft Horse Breeders Association presented Finney with this ceramic sculpture at the 1948 fair at the Timonium Fairgrounds. The sculpture was donated to the National Sporting Library by Finney’s daughter, Marge Dance, in 1995.

Cover art from "The Thirty-Eight Annual Testimonial Dinner of the Thoroughbred Club of America in Honor of Mr. Humphrey S. Finney" 1969.
Cover art from “The Thirty-Eight Annual Testimonial Dinner of the Thoroughbred Club of America in Honor of Mr. Humphrey S. Finney” 1969.

Finney was born in England and came to the United States at 21 to work with horses. His first job was in Michigan, exhibiting draft horses. He moved on to Ohio to work conditioning hunters and polo ponies before breaking into the Thoroughbred industry. Finney was elected to the board of the Maryland Horse Breeders Association in the 1930s, and at the Association’s suggestion, he founded and edited The Maryland Horse magazine in 1936. His autobiography, Fair Exchange: Recollections of a Life With Horses (1974)is in the Library Collections and can be accessed in the Library’s Main Reading Room at NSLM.

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