Hunting Pie, 1931

Summer is fading, and that means two things. First, we’re trading summer sports (like polo) for our autumn sports (like foxhunting). Second, we’re set to launch our Annual Auction, which takes place in September and October of each year. The Auction is our main Library fundraiser each year, and we make available purchases of  duplicate sporting books to fund the maintenance of our collections.

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Hunting Pie, 1931. Available for purchase through the NSLM Annual Auction.

In the spirit of both these points, it seemed like a good time to highlight one of our 2016 Annual Auction offerings: Hunting Pie by Frederick Watson. The book is a humorous summary of “The Whole Art & Craft of Foxhunting,” and was illustrated by Paul Brown and published by the Derrydale Press in 1931.

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“Let us consider some of the highly technical and ingenious explanations of that vexed question ‘Why Foxhunting goes on.'”

Jonathan Swift once described satire as “a sort of glass wherein beholders do generally discover everybody’s face but their own; which is the chief reason for that kind reception it meets with in the world, and that so very few are offended with it.” Watson instead draws on a self-deprecating tradition of hunting humor, choosing instead to leave no figure unscathed.

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“In the best conducted Kennels the hounds all recognise the huntsman almost instantly. They know him by his coat and the bits of biscuit he throws them in advance, and because he has learned some of their names from the whipper-in. But principally because hounds are the same to everyone. The best huntsmen are rather aloof.”
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“During a quick dart across country [the Hunt Secretary] must shout a cheery word to a farmer shaking — through sheer excitement — a gleaming pitchfork, collect a couple of guineas from a stranger who has turned up discreetly late, and yet arrive in time to register his official guffaw when the Master is reminded of a favourite anecdote at the kill.”
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“Every Hunt has a Field more or less. The press correspondents are fond of calling the m’followers’ but they don’t really or not very far or much. If you go to the Meet you will observe a concourse of cars blocking up the highway for about half a mile.”

It’s a delightful read, full of observational humor based on the timeless complaints of “modern foxhunting.” Paul Brown is in his element, as well. It’s a fun addition to a sporting book collection, if nothing else for the illustrations. You can read more about participation in the Annual Auction by viewing the catalog.


Wedding Photography by Spiering Photography

John Connolly has served as the George L. Ohrstrom, Jr. Librarian at the National Sporting Library & Museum (NSLM) since early 2014. He is responsible for the care of the Library collections, including books, magazines, photographs, diaries, letters, and much more. The NSLM collections span over 350 years of the history of equestrian sport, as well as fly fishing, wing shooting, and other field sports. Have a question? Contact John by e-mail

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