The Sportsman’s Portfolio of American Field Sports: Boston: M.M. Ballou, 1855.

The National Sporting Library & Museum is proud to be the home of The Sportsman’s Portfolio of American Field Sports, published in Boston by M.M. Ballou in 1855. This is the second post of four discussing important works on Early American sport.

Image from The Sportsman’s Portfolio of American Field Sports, Boston: M.M. Ballou, 1855.

The Sportsman’s Portfolio is one of the rarest sporting books in America. When Ernest Gee commissioned the Derrydale Press to run a second print of the book in 1929, he noted that only three were known to exist, with all three existing only in private libraries. The book is short, at 44 pages (8vo), with a little over half of those pages being illustrated wood engravings depicting the popular outdoor sports of the time.

The publisher, Maturin Murray Ballou (1820-1895), was the son of the American Universalist clergyman, Hosea Ballou, who founded the Universalist Review, a popular Protestant publication. Publishing seems to have run in the family, for while he passed the exams and requirements to attend Harvard University, he chose not to attend and instead became a pioneer in American illustrated journalism.

Ballou was editor of Gleason’s Pictorial Drawing Room Companion, a 19th century illustrated periodical, bought out the paper from the owner, and continued the publication under the title, Ballou’s Pictorial. Ballou began another paper, Ballou’s Dollar Monthly Magazine, a general interest magazine. Later, in 1872, Ballou assisted in the founding (and was its editor-in-chief) of the Boston Daily Globe, which was originally called, “Maturin Ballou’s Globe.” (Winzeler, 2014)

Image from: https://www.bostonathenaeum.org/library/book-recommendations/athenaeum-authors/maturin-murray-ballou

The Sportsman’s Portfolio of American Field Sports was first published in Gleason’s Pictorial Drawing Room Companion sometime during 1853-1854, a year or two before Ballou decided to re-print it as its own standalone publication. (Doyle Auctions, 2018)

Image from The Sportsman’s Portfolio of American Field Sports, Boston: M.M. Ballou, 1855.

Moose hunting, grouse and woodcock shooting, and bass fishing are depicted in the publication.  I was drawn to this book because each beautiful wood engraving is accompanied by a brief, yet thorough, description of the sport, perfect for a sporting novice like myself!

If you would like to see, and other Early American Sporting texts, contact the Library to make an appointment!

Image from The Sportsman’s Portfolio of American Field Sports, Boston: M.M. Ballou, 1855.

Sources Cited:

Winzeler, A. (2014). Maturin Murray Ballou. [Blog] Boston Athenaeum. Available at: https://www.bostonathenaeum.org/library/book-recommendations/athenaeum-authors/maturin-murray-ballou [Accessed 12 Jan. 2020].

Doyle Auctions. (2018). Hunting Books from the Collection of Arnold “Jake” Johnson. [online] Available at: https://doyle.com/auctions/18jj02-hunting-books-collection-arnold-jake-johnson/catalogue/8-american-field-sport [Accessed 12 Jan. 2020].

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