Born in 1926 at the United States Army Remount Depot in Front Royal, Virginia (less than an hour from the National Sporting Library & Museum), Jenny Camp was named after the cavalry’s horse shows open to enlisted soldiers, women, and children, known as “Jenny Camp” shows. Despite being the daughter of one of the Army’s finest remount stallions, Gordon Russell, Jenny Camp did not come equipped with wonderful confirmation, but she did come with a scrappy hardiness that would take her far.

Jenny Camp. “Olympic Horseflesh” by John T. Cole, Cavalry Journal May-June 1937, p. 202.

At the Cavalry School in Fort Riley, Kansas, Jenny Camp was selected as a potential Olympic team mount and began training for the three-part Olympic event called Eventing. This event developed out of military horsemanship and requires the competitors to excel in dressage, cross country riding, and show jumping – all skills needed in a good cavalry mount. Not just a test of the horse’s abilities, it is also a showcase for the skills of the rider, and close teamwork between the mount and rider is critical for success. Jenny Camp was paired with Lieutenant Earl F. “Tommy” Thompson (1900–1971).

Earl F. “Tommy” Thompson. Equestrian Sport at the Olympic Games: 1912-2008 by Max Ammann (2012) p.82. The gift of William Steinkraus.

Thompson was a graduate of West Point and a polo player. He would go on to become one of the most successful of the United States military’s Olympians. His partnership with Jenny Camp yielded three medals in two consecutive Olympic Games. The pair won the individual silver medal and the team gold medal in eventing at the 1932 Olympics, and the individual silver medal in eventing at the 1936 Olympics. In 1948 he won two more medals on other mounts, bringing his total to five. In 1952 Olympics he participated as an official for the equestrian events.

Thompson and Jenny Camp. Equestrian Excellence by Barbara Wallace Shambach (1996), p. 28.

The eventing competition in the 1936 Olympics would come with controversy. The cross country segment included a jump into water that would prove difficult and even deadly. Riders were required to negotiate a three foot post-and-rail fence into a pond approximately two feet deep, and clear a jump out on the far side. The water was deeper than it appeared and the footing on the bottom of the pond was soft and muddy, resulting in numerous falls. Only fifteen of forty-eight horses successfully handled the obstacle and three were required to be euthanized due to injury, including one of the American team’s mounts.

Footage of the dangerous water obstacle at the 1936 Olympics. Thompson and Jenny Camp can been seen at 3:01.

The controversy came when the Germans all handled the jump by taking a longer, less direct route which appeared to have good, even footing. There was speculation that they knew the condition of the footing under the water ahead of time and were able to avoid trouble. In the end nothing could be proven. In order to be eligible for a team medal, all members of a team must complete each element of the eventing trial. By the end of the cross country portion of the event, there remained only three intact teams. Despite being out of the team competition, Thompson and Jenny Camp took on the show jumping course the following day and earned their second individual silver medal.

Thompson and Jenny Camp at the 1936 Olympics. They would win the individual silver medal for eventing. Equestrian Sport at the Olympic Games: 1912-2008 by Max Ammann (2012), p. 95. The gift of William Steinkraus.

Commentary on Jenny Camp from the time can be found in two articles for the The Cavalry Journal May/June 1937 issue. In the first, “Olympic Horseflesh,” Major John T. Cole said, “Although she is a frail little thing, she showed wonderful stamina and courage… She is now at the Remount Depot at Fort Robinson, being bred in hopes that she may transmit her fine courage and stamina to a better shaped and nicer moving colt” (p. 201).

Thompson and Jenny Camp at the 1932 Olympics. They would win the individual silver medal and the team gold medal for eventing. Equestrian Sport at the Olympic Games: 1912-2008 by Max Ammann (2012), p. 82. The gift of William Steinkraus

In his article “The Conformation of Three-Day Horses” Lieutenant Colonel Harry D. Chamberlin said, “Jenny Camp, however, has proved herself the miracle horse, in that, as stated by Major Cole, she is on the small side, short-gaited, far from prepossessing from the knee down (particularly in her front pasterns which are quite upright), and undoubtedly the poorest of the three horses in general conformation. Yet she did the best work then and lived to repeat in 1936. Captain Earl F. Thompson must share generously in her glory, for such things do not happen to any horse unless superbly and intelligently ridden… In addition she possessed that greatest of all virtues, true quality. This word is frequently misused and misunderstood. When used generally about a horse, as “that horse has quality,” it means something that can be determined only by test. It is a matter of the circulatory, respiratory, nervous, and digestive system, substance of the tendons, muscles, bones, etc., and their proper functioning under tremendous strain, requiring particularly endurance and maximum effort. In quality, the gallant little mare proved a marvel, having that final and all-important virtue embraced in the term “quality”; i.e., great courage. She also has the innate and impossible-to-develop attributes of agility and quickness” (203-4).

Thompson and Jenny Camp. Olympic Equestrian by Jennifer O. Bryant (2008), p. 98. The gift of The Blood-Horse.

During World War II Earl F. Thompson served as chief of staff for the 10th Mountain Division. He earned the Silver Star, the Legion of Merit, and the Bronze Star Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster. He retired from the Army in 1954 as a full Colonel. Jenny Camp retired from Olympic competition after the 1936 games and went to Fort Robinson to serve as a broodmare. One of the members of the 1932 Olympic equestrian team eventually bought her and moved her to his farm in California where she lived to the the age of thirty-two. Today her memory is preserved in the Jenny Camp Horse Trials held by the Maryland Combined Training Association every September.

Works Cited

Ammann, Max E. Equestrian Sport at the Olympic Games 1912-2008. Lusanne, Federation Equestre Internationale, 2012.

Bryant, Jennifer. Olympic Equestrian. Lexington, Kentucky, Eclipse Press, 2008.

Chamberlin, Harry D. “The Conformation of Three-Day Horses.” The Cavalry Journal, May-June 1937, pp. 203-205.

Cole, John T. “Olympic Horseflesh.” The Cavalry Journal, May-June 1937, pp.197-230.

Shambach, Barbara Wallace. Equestrian Excellence. Boonsboro, Maryland, Half Halt Press, 1996.

Erica Libhart has served as the Mars Technical Services Librarian at the National Sporting Library & Museum (NSLM) since early 2016. The focus of her position is collection services, working to increase accessibility to NSLM’s collection of books, periodicals, and archival materials. The NSLM collections span over 450 years of the history of equestrian sport, fly fishing, wing shooting, other field sports, and country life.

The East Prussian Warmblood of Trakehner Origin, more commonly known as the Trakehaner, is a frequent occupant of the winner’s stand. The breed especially excels in dressage, but is also seen in show jumping and eventing competitions. They are admired for their athletic ability, excellent endurance, and elegant way of going. The Trakehners of today are all descended from a small number of horses that survived a grueling flight ahead of the Russian army at the end of World War II. But for their strength and endurance, and the determination of a handful of people, the breed might easily have been lost to history.

Kleopatra4, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The East Prussian region has a long history of horse breeding. The local horse, called the Schweiken, used by farmers as a general utility horse, clearly descended from the wild Tarpan horse. It was a small, hardy horse that required little fodder, was a willing worker, and was remarkably healthy. Organized breeding programs aimed at adding to the size and weight of these sturdy horses came and went beginning in the 16th century. In 1726, driven by the need to establish a reliable supply of cavalry remounts and royal horses, Friedrich Wilhelm I decided to create a centralized stud bringing together the stock from numerous regional stud farms. He selected 8600 acres near the estate known as Trakehnen, and in 1732 the Trakehnen Central Stud was opened.

Trakehnen Stud. Public domain image from Wikimedia Commons.

Early breeding programs at Trakehnen met with mixed success but in the 1780s Friedrich Wilhelm II chose Count Karl Lindenau as stud manager for Trakehnen. Both men were knowledgeable horsemen and they enthusiastically developed a new and well planned breeding program. One of their first actions was to dramatically increase the number of stallion stations. Two hundred and sixty nine state stallions were selected and distributed to regional studs at which private owners could bring their mares for service. At the same time, strict guidelines for the mares were developed and only those meeting these high standards were permitted to be covered by the state owned stallions. This system served to drastically improve the privately owned stock. At the same time a review was conducted of the stock at the Trakehnen stud. Twenty-five of the thirty-eight stallions and 144 of the 356 mares failed to meet the standards and were removed from the breeding program. From this carefully selected foundation the development of the Trakehner horse proceeded. The herds of broodmares were distributed among five farms sorted by type, carriage vs. riding, and by color. Improvements to the breed were made through the careful infusion of Thoroughbred and Arabian blood.

Landstallmeister house at the Trakehnen central stud farm. Public domain image from Wikimedia Commons.

After the First World War the goal of the breeding program shifted from a light cavalry horse to one with more substance. Any horse put forward by his owner as a possible sire was sent to Zwion for training and testing at the age of two and a half. After a year’s training during which the director evaluated a stallion’s health, temperament, action, and habits, a final 3 day cross country test was administered. Roughly 10 percent of the stallions selected to go through the process failed to meet the necessary standards for inclusion in the stud book as a sire. Mares were also tested before being selected for breeding. They must be registered in the East Prussian stud book, show capability in plowing, pulling heavy loads, and demonstrate paces under a rider.

The use of privately owned horses in addition to the state owned horses and the application of such strict breed standards resulted in great national pride in the Trakehner horse. These beloved animals were prized possessions for both the private individual as well as the state. Due to wars and unrest in the region the Trakehnen Stud was evacuated several times between its founding and the Second World War. But the horses always returned and the breed survived and eventually thrived again in its traditional home. Sadly that would not be the case in the evacuation precipitated by the Russian invasion of Germany during World War II.

Route from Trakehnen to safety in the West. Goodall (1973) p. 14.

In the fall of 1944 the Trakehnen stud was finally given permission to evacuate the horses. This was accomplished by old men and young boys as the men were all conscripted into the German army. Despite valiant effort and overcoming a variety of demanding trials most of these horses ended up in Russian or Polish hands or died during the journey. Very few state owned Trakehners succeeding in finding safe homes in the West. The privately owned mares, many in foal, joined their owners in a brutal overland trek of up to 900 miles through mud, snow, and biting cold. Most horses were unshod, there was little to no food available and very little shelter. Often the mares remained in harness overnight. The most treacherous segment of the journey was a five mile walk over the frozen lagoon Frisches Haff during which many people and horses were lost beneath the ice. In her book, Flight of the East Prussian Horses, Daphne Machin Goodall includes letters from people that survived the journey. All are heartbreaking maybe more so for their lack of emotion. This is an excerpt from Albert Shenk’s account:

“I left Kreis Bartenstein on 28 January in driving snow and above 20 degrees of frost with a waggon weighing over 40cwt. It was impossible even to think of finding shelter at night. For more than six weeks by day and night the horses were harnessed to the waggon without being taken out, and endured every kind of wind and weather. In January and February, when it would be impossible for two horses to go forward in the deep snow, four would be harnessed together. As we came near the Haff, it began to thaw, the ice was cracked and water stood over it. From the beach, the waggons went over with fifty yards distance between each waggon, one behind the other; many were not careful enough and drove too near each other and therefore many waggons were lost. Near Leisunen we drove on to the Haff, and thought only to drive across to the Nehrung, but we were not allowed on, and had to drive to Kahlberg, the whole distance of the Haff.

We had to spend the night on the ice, and then came to a place where for about 200 yards the horses had to be driven through at the gallop — the ice rolled behind the waggon like waves of water… When we had the worse part of the journey behind us, their foals were born. The foals were completely developed but had starved to death before birth. There were days when we had done over 50km. Usually we made 30km per day and we arrived after a journey of nine weeks.”

Goodall (1973) p. 74-76.

In the end, out of over 50,000 Trakehners, fewer than 1,000 would escape to the West. The Trakehnen central stud was never reopened, and the horses never returned to their homeland. The survivors were scattered and isolated but determined individuals endeavored to save the breed, in particular Dr. Fritz Schilke and Siegfried Freiherr von Schroetter, both officers of the East Prussian Studbook Society in Königsberg.  The Trakehner Verband was founded in 1947, and continues to govern the development of the breed today. The first West German Trakehners were born in 1948 and in 1950 the West German government joined the effort to rebuild the breed and funded a Trakehner farm. With 40 stallions and 700 mares the Verband managed to register 650 mares and 50 stallions by 1954. Those numbers increased to 1600 registered mares and just under 200 stallions by 1970.

Today the breed continues to thrive. The Trakehner Verband still runs the show in Europe and there is an American Trakehner Association in North America. The breeding program continues to be guided by performance tests for both stallions and mares. The Trakehner is often used as a refiner in the breeding programs of other breeds. I find the breed’s story inspiring. They were forced through the most drastic of performance tests and their stoic endurance served them well. The Library has several books on the breed and its history. We are not currently open due to the pandemic but I’m hopeful that this summer you’ll be able to visit and read all about the Trakehner.

Clough, P. (2009). The Flight Across the Ice: the escape of the East Prussian Horses. Haus Books.

Goodall, D. M. (1973). The Flight of the East Prussian Horses. David & Charles.

Strickland, C. (1992). The Warmblood Guidebook. Half Halt Press.

Velsen-Zerweck, E. and Schulte, E. (1990). The Trakehner. J. A. Allen

Erica Libhart has served as the Mars Technical Services Librarian at the National Sporting Library & Museum (NSLM) since early 2016. The focus of her position is collection services, working to increase accessibility to NSLM’s collection of books, periodicals, and archival materials. The NSLM collections span over 450 years of the history of equestrian sport, fly fishing, wing shooting, other field sports, and country life.

Sadly I do not get to spend my days reading all of our amazing books, periodicals, and archives. Knowledge of the collection is built over time and through a variety of avenues. Sometimes I discover things while working on presentations, or an interesting tibit turns up while searching for some other piece of information and I make a note of it as a possible future blog topic. Often the visitors to the Library help with this process by discussing the sporting topics they are passionate about with me, sharing their knowledge and enthusiasm. Answering reference requests from researchers and as well as from the general public also often leads to interesting information held in our collections that I have never encountered before. Last week I received such a request from a library in Buffalo, New York. They were looking for a copy of an article by Jim Foral called “Ithaca’s Golden Girls,” originally published in the Winter 2016 issue of The Double Gun & Single Shot Journal. Fulfilling this request led to the delightful discovery of an article outlining the early participation of women in the sport of trapshooting.

Leading up to the turn of the 20th century women began to sample the outdoor pursuits that had so long been the domain of men. Led by a few exceptional sportswomen, the physical, mental, and social benefits of outdoor recreation were enthusiastically embraced by the female population at large. Foral’s article describes how magazines and retailers both adapted to cater to this new audience. Sports and outdoors magazines began to feature articles targeting women and even those written by sportswomen. Sellers of sports equipment and apparel developed lines of merchandise for women and ran advertisements in magazines aimed at women. The bulk of Foral’s article is about the commercial relationships that developed between individual sportswomen and gun manufacturers, specifically two spokeswomen for the Ithaca Gun Company, Mrs. Alice Belknap and Mrs. Troup Saxon.

Mrs. Alice Belknap (Foral, 134).

Alice Belknap was a grade school teacher and her husband was a doctor. They lived in Wyoming, New York. In 1899, Dr. Belknap had a hand in founding the Wyoming Gun Club which held monthly trap shooting practices and quarterly registered shooting matches. Although she started as a spectator, it wasn’t long before Alice picked up a gun herself and joined in. She developed into a strong competitor and was passionate about promoting the sport of trapshooting to women. She contributed articles to sporting magazines in which she noted the benefits of trapshooting including spending time with ones husband, the glow of health acquired through outdoor pursuits, and the development of discipline, steady nerves, and confidence.

Mrs. Belknap shooting at the Wyoming Gun Club in New York (Foral 130-131).

In 1908 Alice won the Wyoming Gun Club Championship and was elected the Club’s president. She competed in local and regional contests and was soon known as “The Best Lady Shot in the East.” It should come as no surprise then that the Ithaca Gun Company recruited her as a representative. The company sent her a No. 4 grade twelve gauge gun with gold-plated triggers and ran an ad including her image and testimonial in November 1908 issues of sporting magazines. She was also featured in Ithaca Gun Company ads in March and April of 1913.

Mrs. Belknap in an ad for Ithaca Gun Company (Foral 130).

After her husband’s death in 1913 Alice Belknap gave up competitive shooting. She remained interested in the sport of trapshooting and continued to promote it by occasionally acting as an instructor to other women. The independent streak that helped her rise to the top rank of amateur shooters stood her in good stead for the rest of her life. She purchased an insurance agency and several years later also started a real estate business. At one point she also owned the Wyoming City Water Works which she expanded and improved. She never remarried. After a long and successful life she died at 83 in December 1957.

Mrs. Ermina Saxon (Foral, 135).

Ithaca Gun Company’s second female spokesperson shared Mrs. Belknap’s plucky independence but little else of her story is similar. Mrs. Ermina Broadwell was a tomboy from Oklahoma territory who spent her childhood rambling around the countryside and hunting with her dog Jack. In her late teens Mr. Troup Saxon came to town performing rifle shooting exhibitions. Ermina met him through her father and the two were married in 1908. Mrs. Troup Saxon showed a natural affinity for shooting, hitting nineteen of twenty-five targets in her first trapshooting competition – beating all other shooters by three. The Saxons hit the road, making a living trapshooting. Ermina burst onto the national stage at the Oklahoma State Fair in 1908. The pretty young woman caused a sensation when she outshot all the local male competitors. The fact that she was citizen of the state made her even more popular. In addition to putting on shooting exhibitions and participating in competitions, the Saxons helped establish local shooting clubs wherever they went. They were ideal representatives for a gun company and Ithaca Guns established a relationship with them. The Saxons became commissioned gun-sales representatives for the Ithaca Gun Company and would display and demonstrate the Ithaca guns, as well as take orders for them.

Mrs. Saxon in an ad for Ithaca Gun Company (Foral, 130).

Mr. and Mrs. Troup Saxon traveled from town to town performing. Mr. Saxon developed into a skilled marketer and made sure that their shows were well publicized. Despite her skill, there is also correspondence between Mr. Saxon and Ithaca Gun Company outlining a plan to make sure that she beat him by one shot in nine out of ten competitions. Mrs. Saxon’s gun of choice was a No. seven grade, twelve gauge ejector gun that retailed for $400. Ithaca Gun Company used photos of Mrs. Troup Saxon and her gun in ads that ran in all the sporting magazines in April and May of 1911.

Mrs. Saxon circa 1911 in a photo that ran in Outdoor Life (Foral, 135).

In 1914 the Saxon marriage had failed and Ermina found herself looking for work. She approached Ithaca Guns about becoming a salaried salesperson or demonstrator but company policy barred such arrangements. The best they could offer her was a commission on sales. She made one last attempt to revive her shooting career at the Grand American Handicap in Ohio but only managed a middling performance. Her career as professional trapshooter was over but her pluck and independence never failed her. She lived in Seattle, Idaho, and Arizona, before establishing herself in Anchorage, Alaska where she cooked for mining camps and managed hotels. She had a daughter and eventually had four more husbands before dying in 1949 at age 60.

Mrs. Saxon (Foral, 137).

Both of these women did a great deal to normalize women’s participation in trapshooting and outdoor pursuits in general. They led by example but also encouraged would be shooters through the establishment of gun clubs, authoring of magazine articles, and instruction of novice gunners. Although advertisers like The Ithaca Gun Company were after the potential profit that might be generated by these new sportswomen, their ads traveled far beyond the regions that women like Mrs. Belknap or Mrs. Saxon could visit in person. Those images did their share to inspire women’s participation in sport too. Happily the sport of trapshooting is alive and well and many women still participate in it. In fact several members of the NSLM staff recently tried it for the first time! If you would like to read Jim Foral’s full account of these enterprising women please contact me at the Library.

Foral, Jim. “Ithaca’s Golden Girls.” Double Gun & Single Shot Journal, Winter 2016, pp. 129-139.

Erica Libhart has served as the Mars Technical Services Librarian at the National Sporting Library & Museum (NSLM) since early 2016. The focus of her position is collection services, working to increase accessibility to NSLM’s collection of books, periodicals, and archival materials. The NSLM collections span over 450 years of the history of equestrian sport, fly fishing, wing shooting, other field sports, and country life.

One of the most frequently asked questions on tours of the F. Ambrose Clark Rare Books Room is how old is our oldest book. We always ask guests to guess and they are rarely even close. Our oldest book was published in 1523, just shy of 500 years ago! Perhaps even more interesting than its age is its subject matter. It’s a volume on dueling!

De Duello, or On the Duel, by Paride del Pozzo (1410-1493) was first published in 1471 or 1472. Pozzo, also called il Puteo, Paridis or Paris de Puteo, was an Italian jurist who translated his professional experiences gained while serving the king of Napoli, Alfonso V of Aragon, into several popular legal treatises, including De Duello. This volume is of great interest today because it not only enumerates the laws of dueling in the 15th century, but also includes detailed accounts of actual duels, which allow the modern reader to understand how these conflicts actually played out.

Title page of De Duello (1523) showing two combatants fighting with halberds in front of five jurists. The gift of John H. and Marta Daniels.

The publication history of De Duello is complex. It spawned several editions, was published in three languages, was reprinted at least 16 separate times, and sections of the book were included in other titles on dueling. The first edition was published in Latin and targeted jurists. An Italian edition soon followed which expanded on the Latin, and targeted the participants of duels rather than those adjudicating the contests. In the 16th century, the Italian edition was republished in Venice a number of times and featured a resetting of the type, and updated spelling and punctuation. The NSLM’s copy dates from this time period.

De Duello‘s subject matter is sorted into a series of books, the number of which depends on the edition being viewed. Various editions combine books or expand their content. This table of contents gives a good idea of the material covered:

  • Book 1: by Paride del Pozzo
  • Book 2: On the place of combat or battle
  • Book 3: On the duel
  • Book 4: On armaments
  • Book 5: On the need of a champion
  • Book 6: On the causes for dueling
  • Book 7: On noble fights and on [rebrociis]
  • Book 8: On cases of duels and pacts to fight
  • Book 9: On capture and redemption in duels
  • Book 10: On heraldry and unsaying
  • Book 11: On the decision and appeal in making battle

Interest in the book remained strong throughout the 16th century and it was even translated into English. In an interesting coincidence the first author to make an English translation of De Duello is Thomas Bedingfield. He is familiar to me for his 1584 volume, The Art of Riding, which the NSLM also owns. Apparently Bedingfield’s 1580 translation, Questions of Honor and Arms, was never published and only exists as a manuscript held by the Folger Shakespeare Library. De Duello finally makes it into English publication in 1590 when it is translated and abridged by William Segar.

When showing this volume on tours I often speculate about the life of the book. Our copy is in good condition which makes me a little sad since that implies that it was either loved but little used, or just completely forgotten on a shelf. Granted the materials of which books were fabricated in the 16th century are far sturdier than those in today’s books but I regularly handle books nearly as old that are in rough shape. Sometimes that damage is due to neglect but more often it’s the dogeared pages, dedications scrawled on the endpapers, notes of all sorts along the margins, and stains, all resulting from heavy use.

Our copy of De Duello was given to the Library in 1999 by John H. and Martha Daniels. At some point it belonged to the collector Jack Grolin who’s bookplate remains inside the cover.

Bookplate of Jack Grolin pasted inside the front cover of the NSLM’s copy of De Duello.

The last clue we have is an inscription on the fly leaf. The first line might be some sort of inventory notation, it’s difficult to say, but the rest of the inscription appears to read “di L. Giovanni Romani di Casalmaggi 1808. So we can assume the book was still in Italy in 1808, but the nearly 300 years between its printing and 1808 remain a mystery.

Notation on the flyleaf of NSLM’s copy of De Duello.

Due to the pandemic the Library is currently closed to visitors. We hope to welcome guests again soon. When we do, we’d love it if you’d come visit our oldest book!

Sources: The Wiktenauer website was extremely helpful in describing the publication history of De Duello and with the background of Paride del Pozzo.

Erica Libhart has served as the Mars Technical Services Librarian at the National Sporting Library & Museum (NSLM) since early 2016. The focus of her position is collection services, working to increase accessibility to NSLM’s collection of books, periodicals, and archival materials. The NSLM collections span over 450 years of the history of equestrian sport, fly fishing, wing shooting, other field sports, and country life.

Recently during a presentation, I mentioned that several artists we were discussing had contributed artwork for the Federal Duck Stamp. Someone asked me what the Federal Duck Stamp was and all I really knew was that the program had been around for a long time, that the artists were originally asked to participate, and that today the annual design is chosen from among submissions from the general public. I was also aware that there is a Junior Duck Stamp but beyond that I had no information. Needless to say, immediately after the presentation I rectified that situation and I’d like to share what I discovered. It turns out the Migratory Bird Hunting Act, i.e. the Duck Stamp Act, resulted in a highly successful conservation program that continues to thrive today.

Ross’ Goose the 2006/2007 Federal Duck Stamp. Image by Sherrie Russell Meline/USFWS – 2006-07 Duck Stamp Final, Public Domain,

Federal Duck Stamps are issued annually and function as hunting licenses. Waterfowl hunters over the age of 16 are required to purchase and carry a current Duck Stamp. The stamps also serve as passes to any National Wildlife Refuge that charges admission. Ninety-eight percent of the purchase price of Duck Stamps is deposited directly into the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund which is used to purchase and preserve the wetland habitats so critical to migratory birds. Funds are also used to purchase conservation easements for the National Wildlife Refuge System. Such arrangements allow important habitat to be protected for future generations, while allowing owners to retain many private property rights, and to live on and use their land. To date the program has raised more than a billion dollars and protected more than 6 million acres of habitat. More than 300 national wildlife refuges have been created or expanded using funds generated through the sale of Duck Stamps.

Map of US National Wildlife Refuges (refuges in Hawaii, Pacific Islands, and Alaska not shown). Image from the National Wildlife Refuge site.

The origin of the Migratory Bird Hunting Act lies in the culmination of several damaging trends. By the late 1920’s and early 1930’s the United State’s population of waterfowl had been decimated through a combination of unregulated market hunting, demand for plumage in the fashion industry, and habitat loss due to drought. In 1929, President Herbert Hoover signed the Migratory Bird Conservation Act in an effort to reverse the damage. The Act authorized the acquisition and preservation of wetlands as waterfowl habitat but neglected to furnish a permanent source of funding for the project. On March 16, 1934 this issue was resolved when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Migratory Bird Hunting Stamp Act, popularly known as the Duck Stamp Act. The first stamp was issued for the 1934-35 season. It featured an image of mallard ducks coming in for a landing by Jay N. “Ding” Darling, the Chief of the US Biological Survey. It sold for one dollar; 635,001 were purchased.

This 1934/1935 United States Department of Agriculture Migratory Bird Hunting Stamp depicting mallards was the first one and was designed by Jay N. “Ding” Darling, chief of the U.S. Biological Survey. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

For the first fifteen years of the program stamp designs were solicited from noted wildlife artists. Beginning in 1949 the design was chosen through an art contest open to any US artist that wished to participate. Guidelines are issued each year including the permitted species to be shown, and the entries are judged by a panel of wildlife and conservation experts, and artists. It is the nation’s longest running and only Congressionally mandated wildlife art competition. Winners receive a set of stamps and bragging rights. The winner for the 2021-22 season was Richard Clifton of Milford, Delaware with his painting of a single Lesser Scaup drake.

The winning design for the 2021-22 Duck Stamp. Lesser Scaup drake by Richard Clifton. Image from Delaware State News.

In addition to the Federal Duck Stamp there is a Junior Duck Stamp. This program was developed by Dr. Joan Allemand in 1989, with a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. It is an educational program designed to teach students from K-12 wetland and waterfowl conservation. The program incorporates scientific and wildlife management principles into a visual arts curriculum and participants complete a Junior Duck Stamp design as their visual “term paper.” Beginning in 1993 an open art contest featuring these visual “term papers” was held to select the image for the following year’s Junior Duck Stamp. The stamps are sold for $5 and the money raised through the sale of the stamps funds conservation education, and provides awards and scholarships for the students, teachers, and schools that participate in the program. This year’s winning Junior Duck Stamp design is by 13-year old Madison Grimm from South Dakota.

Madison Grimm’s painting of a Wood Duck won the 2020 Junior Duck Stamp art contest and was featured on the stamp. Image from the US Fish and Wildlife site.

For 86 years the Duck Stamp program has been successful. Originally backed by hunters, it now also counts birders, environmental conservationists, and stamp collectors among it’s supporters. In recognition of the stamp’s growing value as a conservation tool, its formal name was changed to the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp.

If you’d like to explore the world of waterfowl the Library has extensive holdings on many species. We are currently open by appointment and would be pleased to share these items with you.

Erica Libhart has served as the Mars Technical Services Librarian at the National Sporting Library & Museum (NSLM) since early 2016. The focus of her position is collection services, working to increase accessibility to NSLM’s collection of books, periodicals, and archival materials. The NSLM collections span over 450 years of the history of equestrian sport, fly fishing, wing shooting, other field sports, and country life.

By Reid O’Connor

Full disclosure: not everyone at the NSLM rides, hunts, plays polo, wingshoots, or fishes. We currently have nine full-time staff members. Of that nine, two are regular riders and sportswomen, and one is a part-time rider, having been much more active in her younger years (which, should be stated, was not too long ago). The remaining six of us enjoy learning about the various sports our mission encompasses and listening to others tell their stories and experiences but are not active participants.

Recently, a few NSLM staff tried some of the sports we “preserve, promote, and share” and with that, we created a series entitled “Never Have I Ever.” We want to tell you about our adventures, what we thought of them, and, most importantly, would we do them again? The inaugural entry below is from our Director of Development, Reid O’Connor. She is one of the two previously mentioned sporting regulars and last month, tried her hand at fly fishing. Take it away, Reid.

A friend of mine recently invited me to stay at her family home in Vermont to see the fall foliage, and naturally I jumped at the chance! After the blur of 2020, this seemed like the perfect opportunity to mark the start of my favorite season. So when the third week of October came around, I packed my bags with flannels, took a COVID-19 test, and made the 7 hour drive to the town of Manchester, Vermont.

Admittedly, after the whirlwind of our Polo Classic and September Board Meeting, I had not done any preparation for the trip or research about the town of Manchester. So as I followed my GPS into town, gaping at the reds, yellows, and oranges or the trees, I unwittingly discovered that I would be staying in the home of the Orvis Flagship Store and the Orvis Fly Fishing School, as well as the American Museum of Fly Fishing (a wonderful place to visit and perhaps the subject of a later blog). In our realm of equestrian, angling, and field sports, becoming an angler was a gap I had yet to fill. It seemed to me the fishing gods had drawn me here for a purpose, and I should not let this opportunity go to waste.

The folks at the flagship store had very enthusiastically given me the contact information for Kyle Leard, Orvis Adventures Instruction Lead at the Orvis Fly Fishing School. I gave him a call and signed my friend and I up for an hour casting lesson for beginners. We met Kyle at the school where he enthusiastically introduced himself and handed us our rods. We then marched across the road to pond of the flagship store, where our lesson would be taking place.

Here I am at the Orvis Fly Fishing School before my lesson.

Kyle showed us how to put our rods together and then demonstrated a beautiful and effortless cast. He said the trick was a smooth and quick acceleration, followed by a stop, and then the cast forward – all in one line. Like all good instructors, Kyle had made the cast look easy. I will master this in no time at all, I thought, but discovered quite the contrary. Being a short 5’ 2”, I struggled clumsily with the long rod. I was having trouble putting the different parts of the cast together into one easy motion. After patiently observing my robotic arm-movements, Kyle suggested that maybe I should maybe not try so hard. This was, of course, sage advice. Like in most sports, overthinking is a sure path to disappointment.

Struggling with the fact the rod is taller than I am.

Once I began following Kyle’s advice to relax my grip and we were no longer embarrassing ourselves with our initial casts, he decided we could progress. Next, we learned the false cast, apparently a particularly useful tool to change direction or add length to the cast, and to dry out the fly. And then we learned the roll cast – this Kyle said was very helpful if you are in a tree-heavy or bush-heavy area and there is not much room behind you for your back cast.

Kyle showing us the ropes outside the Orvis Flagship Store in Manchester.

I had been so preoccupied with my cast in the first part of the lesson that I had failed to notice what was moving beneath the surface of the water. About halfway through, I saw a bright flash of color – a huge rainbow trout! I soon realized the pond was full of massive trout and I thought I might just have a chance to catch one. But when I vocalized my hopes, Kyle told me I would probably have no such luck. The trout in the pond are fed by visitors, and so have rather wisely discovered that they don’t need to work for their supper. They swum by fat and happy, not the slightest bit bothered by my efforts.

Trying my best to imitate my instructor.

Thanks to Kyle’s enthusiasm and good humor, the hour came and went much faster than I had expected. As we neared the end, I mentioned that I was starting to feel the casting in my hand – another sign of trying too hard and holding too tightly, Kyle said.  Although I had by no means mastered my casts, I realized that in that past hour I had been so focused on it that I could think of nothing else. Despite the fact my hand was a little sore, and my ego slightly damaged by the fat fish who had deemed me beneath their notice, I left happy. I had that same familiar feeling that I get after a long ride, that feeling which draws sportsmen and women back to fields and streams time and time again, the feeling of inner peace.

So, would I do it again? Absolutely. I told Kyle that my friend and I would be back next summer, this time to take on some real trout…

A final note: As you have gathered, this was my first lesson, and so if I described or remembered anything improperly or incorrectly, I apologize. It is my error and not that of my instructor. 

Reid joined the NSLM in November 2017 and currently serves as Director of Development. She oversees the NSLM’s Membership program; annual giving; special events, including the Polo Classic and Open Late summer concert series; and facility rentals for outside groups. She is a graduate of The Madeira School and serves on the Board of The Hill School Alumni Association and as Secretary of the Loudoun County Equine Alliance. In her free time, she is an avid rider and polo player, and enjoys skiing and tennis. 

George Algernon Fothergill (1868-1945) was trained as a physician but apparently found this practical career less enchanting than one as an artist. He would eventually give up medicine completely and make a living as an illustrator and artist. His work appeared in Vanity Fair magazine as well as other sporting periodicals. He also designed letterheads, bookplates, Christmas cards, advertisements, and published books of architectural details. The NSLM holds his first published book, An Old Raby Hunt Club Album (1899).

Title page of An Old Raby Hunt Club Album. The gift of Mrs. Ronald L.

It is a collection of portraits and biographies describing the members of the Club. The volume is a large folio sized work (51×37 cm) and features 65 leaves of plates, mostly in color. The NSLM’s copy is number 21 of 100 editions De Luxe which include additional plates. According to the label it was originally the copy belonging to Club member C. E. Hunter who is pictured on plate XXV.

Label inside the cover of An Old Raby Hunt Club Album. The gift of Mrs. Ronald L.

After an introduction in which Fothergill describes the production of the book he addresses the confusing history of foxhunting in the area, mainly by deferring to Scarth Dixon, an author of hunt histories, who had begun on a similar project for the Raby Hunt. Fothergill limits himself to touching on the enormous territory of the Raby Hunt, how Lord Darlington kept several kennels throughout the territory, and how a number of other established hunts somehow existed in the same geographic area. His main point however, is that the Old Raby Hunt Club is not tied to the historic Raby Hunt. “In 1866 the late Mr. Christopher Cradock formed a pack, and hunted a portion of the Raby territory, which is now known as the Zetland country – Lord Zetland purchasing his hounds in 1876. The Old Raby Hunt Club, with its somewhat ambiguous title, originated in 1872, and was established for the purpose of furthering the interests of fox-hunting in Mr. Cradock’s country; and although that gentleman generously maintained the hounds at his own expense, as the Marquis of Zetland does now, yet the Hunt Club (by its five-guinea entrance fee and five-guinea annual subscription) provided a certain amount towards poultry and covert funds and earth-stopping fees… The Old Raby Hunt Club was merely founded to back up a generous-minded Master, and in the event of nobody caring to keep the hounds at his own expense, doubtless the Club would come forward, purchase a pack, and subscribe for a Master, and so keep up the connection of fox-hunting in this particular district with the Raby hunt of days gone by.”

The album provides a fascinating look at the colorful members of the Club at the turn of the century. In addition to sketches of the hounds, and some of the territory and its buildings, the book features a color sketch of each Club member, accompanied by a brief biography. It is interesting to see how each member chose to be pictured. Some are mounted and in hunt attire, others are shown in their hunt attire but are standing or seated in rooms whose decoration is significant once one reads the accompanying text. Still others are shown in non-hunting costumes, or with the trappings of sports other than foxhunting. I especially like the sketch of Charles Henry Backhouse who is shown using a telephone. His biography also mentions his squash court, which is lit by electric lights. I imagine if this man was alive today he would be your friend with the latest iPhone and a fully connected smart home. What follows is a selection of sketches and excepts from their accompanying descriptions. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do and if you would like to get a closer look at this book please don’t hesitate to contact me for an appointment. I would love to share it with you.

Plate I: Marquis of Zetland — “MFH for 23 years, it has been said that he errs in the opposite direction to that of many Masters of Hounds — he is too kind, too gentlemanly, too forgiving in the field. Lord Zetland always wears glasses in the hunting-field, but was too modest to put them on for this portrait! As a fisherman, he can lay claim to have landed a record salmon, weighing 55 pounds, and 50 inches in length. This fish he killed with a fly in the Stanley Water, on the river Tay, taking only thirty minutes to land the monster, which took place on the 15th of October, 1895.”

Plate I. The Marquis of Zetland.

Plate XIX: Captain Charles Michell — “As a Captain in the King’s Royal Rifles, he has seen active service in Zululand… He also served in the Boer rebellion of 1881. He has hunted and shot big game in many parts. The rifle in our friend’s charge has no connection whatsoever with the brush on the wall! for the Michells of Forcett have always been too well esteemed as keen preservers of foxes, though shooting has been and is their chief sport. The Captain is a great fisherman, so he finds Glassel House, Aberdeen, suites his taste well in this direction. He, too, smokes just a little!”

Plate XIX. Captain Charles Michell

Plate III: Johnathan Edmund “Jed” Backhouse — “…still, there are a few little items left out which go towards caricaturing “Jed” that might be inserted here. We all know he is a banker; we all know he is a politician of no mean order, and that his father was M.P. for Darlington…; we all know he wears an Inverness coat and an eyeglass both in summer and winter; and we all know he married a daughter of a famous Cornishman; but we don’t all know that he provides a pound of sugar nearly every day for his various home and stable pets, such as his walked hound puppies, his poodles, his terriers, his whippet, his schipperke, his pocket beagle, and all his other dogs, and his four or five ponies, giving each in his turn his share out of a grocer’s blue bag.”

Plate III. Johnathan Edmund “Jed” Backhouse

Plate XXV: C. E. “Charlie” Hunter — “Always called “Charlie” by his friends… He has just taken up polo again, and played in a match for Catterick Bridge last year, thereby showing that forty-seven years are still able to compete with the “young bloods” in the quickest and severest game there is.” This is the original owner of NSLM’s copy of An Old Raby Hunt Album.

Plate XXV. C. E. “Charlie” Hunter

Plate XXXI: Charles Henry Backhouse — “He has bred a good Irish terrier, and is a judge of one too. Squash racquets in his excellent covered court, lit up with electric light, gives the gallery-man an opportunity of seeing our friend in his true element… There are those who hunt, but never aspire to be anywhere than at the tail of the hunt, are never expected to be anywhere else, and never despised for being there. Such are the words of a contributor to the Badminton Magazine; and such appropriately describe our friend… “Charlie” Backhouse goes out to enjoy himself, to get exercise, and to see his acquaintances. He is fond of shooting, and a good friend to farmers; also a keen supporter of all forms of manly exercise. A collector of sporting books and pictures… He is quite an authority on cigarettes.”

Plate XXXI. Charles Henry Backhouse

Plate XXXVII: Captain Gerald Walker — “A rugby boy, and a 15th (King’s) Hussar man, who was born in September 1841. He joined the 15th when he was eighteen, going with them to India nine years afterwards. He has been devoted to hunting, following the chase in Ireland with the Meath and Kildare, as well as in Yorkshire and Durham. All pursuits, such as cricket, football, golf, and cycling, find in him a warm supporter… No man likes his pipe better than Captain Gerald Walker. He thinks his portrait somewhat of a caricature.”

Plate XXXVII. Captain Gerald Walker

Plate XLI: Captain W. K. Trotter — William Kemp Trotter. “At Sandhurst he got into the XV, and was gazetted to the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment in 1889… His regiment took out a pack of hounds, which went by the name of the Cape Town Foxhounds, to hunt the jackal… Most wild beasts all over the world have fallen to his rifle, including every kind of African buck. He is now a farmer and hunts five days a-week, and possesses a good ‘chaser in “Withern,” winner of several steeplechases… “Creelor,” that he is mounted on for this sketch is a good type of weight-carrying hunter, and came from the Dublin Show. The skeleton has no connection with hunting, but with the Mounted Police in Africa!”

Plate XLI. Captain W. K. Trotter

Plate XVI: H. Gurney Pease — “In Harold Gurney Pease we have an athletic, hard fellow, and a thorough good sportsman to boot… As a lawn tennis player, he was quite one of the best while at Cambridge, and won many prizes up there, and afterwards in open tournaments. He has now converted the “grasshopper” green coat into that of a master and huntsman of harriers, a sporting little pack of over twenty couples of dwarf foxhounds and harriers… All his life, Harold Pease has been fond of a fox-terrier and rabbit-coursing. He has shot a black bear and a leopard. He smokes hard.

Plate XVI. H. Gurney Pease

Plate XL: “Bob” Lancaster — “Bob” Lancaster, who has been a good many years in charge of the George Inn, Piercebridge, is quite a character, apart from his appearance, which is somewhat original and unique in its way. Few people can count as many buttons to their waistcoats as “Bob” can on his! He has travelled many thousands of miles in America with a team of mules, and his yarns on that country are legion. He is well known and much respected by everyone.”

Plate XL. “Bob” Lancaster

Erica Libhart has served as the Mars Technical Services Librarian at the National Sporting Library & Museum (NSLM) since early 2016. The focus of her position is collection services, working to increase accessibility to NSLM’s collection of books, periodicals, and archival materials. The NSLM collections span over 450 years of the history of equestrian sport, fly fishing, wing shooting, other field sports, and country life.

Although the legendary horses of flat racing are generally more well known to the population at large, there are horses within the steeplechasing community that enjoy the same level of fame as any flat racer. One such hero was a bay gelding called Saluter, who would rise from inauspicious beginnings to win the Virginia Gold Cup six years in a row.

Saluter. National Steeplechase Association, American Steeplechasing 1995, page 274, photo by Doug Lees.

Saluter was born in 1989 on Rose Estes’s farm in Virginia. He was purchased as a yearling by Richard Small who tried him at both flat races and hurdle races with disappointing results. In 1993 Small sold the horse to steeplechase jockey and trainer Jack Fisher for $2500. Soon after Henry and Ann Stern of Richmond, Virginia purchased a half interest in the horse. Fisher trained Saluter as a timber racer and the longer races suited the horse well. That fall Saluter won in upstate New York and again at Montpelier for the Virginia Hunt Cup. The following spring he would win the first of six consecutive (1994-1999) Virginia Gold Cup races at Great Meadow in The Plains, Virginia.

Saluter (left) in action. Photo from The Sahuarita Sun.

During his career he would also win the International Gold Cup and the Radnor Hunt Cup twice, and the Virginia Hunt Cup four times. In 1997 he followed up a Virginia Gold Cup win with a trip to England where he won the Marlborough Cup. Winning both races in the same year earned him the title World Timber Champion and a $100,000 bonus. By the end of his racing career Saluter would win a record 21 timber races, and rake in $429,489 in timber earnings.

Saluter and Jack Fisher. Peter Winants, Steeplechasing: A Complete History of the Sport in North America (2000), page 236.

Jack Fisher, Saluter’s regular rider as well as his trainer, has commented that the horse’s strength was his ability to accelerate from a gallop to a sprint. Longer races allowed the horse to build up his momentum and then kick in the afterburners to run down the competition late in the race. This racing style led to exciting victories where the crowd could see Saluter come from behind and win over the last few jumps. His dramatic style combined with his winning streak at the Virginia Gold Cup caused Saluter’s popularity to soar and in turn brought crowds to the racecourse. Creating new steeplechase fans may be his longest lasting legacy to the sport even if his Gold Cup record is never broken.

Saluter and Jack Fisher. Peter Winants, Steeplechasing: A Complete History of the Sport in North America (2000), page 240.

Following the 2000 season, at 12 years of age, Saluter retired to Jack Fisher’s farm in Monkton, Maryland. In 2001 he was honored with a farewell lap at the Virginia Gold Cup at Great Meadow. A crowd of 53,000 cheered him on as he galloped around the course he had dominated for over half a decade, and William Allison, the President of the Gold Cup’s Board of Directors presented him with a bushel of carrots and apples. In retirement Saluter took up foxhunting. He would return to Great Meadow and the Gold Cup once again in 2008 to view the bronze statue of himself by sculptor Alexa King. Commemorating his six win streak, the statue was installed at the racecourse in 2007. Saluter died in 2017. He was 28 years old. Earlier this year Joe Clancy created a touching tribute to Saluter that was originally aired on the National Steeplechase Association’s live stream show covering 2020 Gold Cup races. Click through for some wonderful photos of the great horse.

Bronze statue of Saluter by Alexa King at Great Meadow. Photo by Peter Fynmere.

The Library holds many books and periodicals about steeplechasing, its great racecourses, and the colorful people and horses, both past and present, that participate in the sport. To delve into any of these resources contact the Library to make an appointment. Appointments are available Tuesday through Friday. Also consider booking a visit to see the Museum’s newest exhibit, The Thrill of the ‘Chase, which showcases the history of steeplechasing and its depiction in art. Museum tickets are available on Fridays and Saturdays and must be booked ahead of time on our website.

Erica Libhart has served as the Mars Technical Services Librarian at the National Sporting Library & Museum (NSLM) since early 2016. The focus of her position is collection services, working to increase accessibility to NSLM’s collection of books, periodicals, and archival materials. The NSLM collections span over 450 years of the history of equestrian sport, fly fishing, wing shooting, other field sports, and country life.

After exploring the NSLM’s collection of sporting books for the last four and a half years I’ve learned that while many sporting volumes were produced with commercial success in mind, many more were simply passion projects authored by true lovers of sport for the sake of celebrating a given activity and perhaps sharing their enthusiasm for it with readers, themselves likely also disciples of the sport. A lot of these volumes are quite elaborate as well, making commercial success even more unlikely. One such work is The Fishes of North America that are Captured on Hook and Line by William C. Harris (1830-1905).

Original half-title page of volume 1, published in 1898. Image from the New York Public Library.

Harris was an editor of American Angler, and a well published author of angling books. His intention with this project was to create a comprehensive work on the game fishes of North America, including not only textual information but also accompanying color illustrations. To achieve this goal he teamed up with artist John L. Petrie (19th century) and the two of them traveled the continent. Harris would fish and lay out his catch for Petrie to paint on the spot “before the sheen of their color tints had faded.” The preface of the book clearly describes their dedication to the project:

“I have been engaged nearly a quarter of a century in gathering the notes from which the text of this book has been written, and twelve years in procuring the oil portraits of living fish, caught from their native waters, that I might obtain lithographic facsimiles … The aggregate distance travelled was 28,558 miles, and the days occupied in transit and in catching and painting the fishes numbered nine hundred and seventy-two, or eighty-one working days of each angling season during twelve years. Mr. John L. Petrie, the artist, has been my steadfast companion during this protracted but pleasant task. He has painted the portraits of each fish represented … from living specimens caught on my own rod, with the exception of the Pacific Salmons, which were taken alive in traps.”

william C. Harris, In the preface to The Fishes of North America that are Captured on Hook and Line (1898). From Donald A. Heald RAre Books, Prints & Maps.
How the Work was Done by J. L. Petrie. Illustration facing the introduction. Image from Case Antiques.

Harris had planned to publish the final work in two volumes each featuring 40 color plates. Unfortunately he died before the second volume was completed and only the first was ever published. The NSLM does not hold a copy of this work but we do have a wonderful collection of the illustrations by J. L. Petrie which were created for a planned deluxe subscription edition of The Fishes of North America that are Captured on Hook and Line. This set was sold under the title Portraits of Fishes in Natural Colors and included 38 color lithographs made from Petrie’s paintings of both fresh and salt water fishes.

Sales sheet included with the set of 38 color lithographs. The gift of John H. and Martha Daniels.

The Fresh Water set: The Small-Mouth Black Bass — The Large-Mouth Black Bass — The American Brook Trout — The Unspotted Muscollonge — The Brown or German Trout — Winninish-Land-Locked Salmon — The Rocky Mountain Trout — The Michigan Grayling — The Rock Bass — The Eastern or Banded Pickerel — The Pike — The Common Sunfish — The Fresh Water Drum or Sheepshead — The White or Silver Bass — The Rocky Mountain Whitefish — The Montana Grayling — Hybrid Trout-cross of the Lake and Brook Trout — The Kern River Trout of California — The Common Bullhead or Horned Pout — The Mirror Carp — The Cisco of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin — The Sacramento Pike, Squaw’s Fish or Yellow Belly

Brown or German Trout. Specimen weight 1 lb. caught at Caledonia Creek, NY. The gift of John H. and Martha Daniels.
The Common Bullhead or Horned Pout. Specimen weight 3/4 lb. caught at Greenwood Lake NY. The gift of John H. and Martha Daniels.

The Salt Water set: The Striped Bass — The Weakfish or Squeteague — The Blackfish or Tautog — The Kingfish, Whiting or Barb — The Bluefish — The Spanish Mackerel — The Porgee or Scup — The Spot or Lafayette — The Dollar or Butter Fish — The Mangrove Snapper — The Striped Mullet — The Spotted Sea Trout — The Sea Bass — The Pompano — The Red Drum or Channel Bass — The California Redfish

The California Red Fish or Fat-Head. Specimen weight 3 lbs. caught and painted off Catalina Island, coast of California. The gift of John H. and Martha Daniels.
The Pompano. Specimen weight 1 lb. caught and painted at Naples, Gulf of Mexico. The gift of John H. and Martha Daniels.

The illustrations are lovely to look at but I enjoy imagining Harris and Petrie road-tripping around the country fishing and painting year after year during the late 19th century. It would be interesting to hear what it was like. Perhaps the NSLM will acquire a copy of The Fishes of North America that are Captured on Hook and Line in the future and maybe Harris put a small anecdote or two about their journeys in an introduction or afterword.

Erica Libhart has served as the Mars Technical Services Librarian at the National Sporting Library & Museum (NSLM) since early 2016. The focus of her position is collection services, working to increase accessibility to NSLM’s collection of books, periodicals, and archival materials. The NSLM collections span over 450 years of the history of equestrian sport, fly fishing, wing shooting, other field sports, and country life.

Over the years readers of this blog have learned about objects in the collections, projects in the Library and Museum, and exhibitions on view in the Museum, through the points of view of the two librarians, Michelle Guzman and Erica Libhart, the curator Claudia Pfeiffer, and the collections manager, Lauren Kraut. This week I thought we’d change things up a bit and hear from some of the other members of NSLM’s staff. Each of them was asked what their normal day is like, how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted their work, and what one of their favorite pieces is in the NSLM collections. I hope you enjoy getting to know more of the staff!

Valerie Peacock

Clarice & Robert H. Smith Educator

I wear a couple of hats, not just the educator, so my normal workday includes me breaking up my day to work on multiple things. Most of my time is devoted to education which includes formal and informal educational activities. I spend time working with both the Library and Curatorial Departments on specific programs, exhibition interactives, school and adult aged programs, and activities that correlate with department projects. Other than education-specific items, I also work on the visitor experience with the management of the front-desks, the training of staff, and the online and in person gift shop. COVID-19 has greatly impacted my work and has made me think more critically on how to achieve my educational goals and visitor experience ideals without the interaction that we are accustomed to. I have had to cancel many programs, migrate programs to a virtual platform, change how visitors experience our campus, and develop alternative ways to provide in-gallery interaction while maintaining a safe environment.

The Cat from The Historie of Foure-Footed Beastes by Edward Topsell (1607).  The gift of Thomas E. Marston

My favorite piece in the collection is in the F. Ambrose Clark Rare Book Room, The historie of foure-footed beastes. This book describes in amazing detail all the animals that the author at the time knew with four feet. I love this book because it contains some very inaccurate yet hilarious entries and images of well-known animals.

Jody West

Marketing Manager

A normal workday has me designing all kinds of graphics, managing the many advertising contracts and deliverables, while also evaluating new advertising opportunities, managing/processing the marketing invoices that are due, meeting with co-workers regarding their marketing needs for their departments, managing the many vendors we use to make sure the multitude of projects we have are being printed to the highest quality and on time, and this also includes finding new vendors for various print projects. On any given day I am juggling a multitude of design projects from big to small, some examples are the newsletter, annual report, exhibition catalogs, exhibition family guides, print ads, tv ads, web ads, invites, postcards, bookmarks, rack cards, annual appeals, blog reprints, large and small scale banners, signs, and all sorts of event graphics. For some of these projects the full design is more than just layout of the book or document, but also includes illustration as well. I am also responsible for photography, which can either mean I take the photos or I hire the photographer to take the photos, and meeting with the Middleburg Town HDRC Committee to get approval for large scale banners that hang on the side of our building. Most if not all of my job can be conducted remotely so Covid-19 did not have a huge impact on my job specifically other than the fact that when we were getting ready to open back up I was creating much more signage than I usually do.

Six-sided puzzle with hunting scenes, images by John Sanderson-Wells.  Late 19th early 20th century.  The gift of John H. and Martha Daniels.  

My favorite piece in the Museum is the painting A Hare Hunting Scene by a follower of James Ross (British, fl. 1729-1738). I love the colors, his style of painting, and the vintage feel. In the Library, my favorite would have to be the small objects in the rare book room collection, including the horse teeth. I am a found object sculpture artist so those bits and pieces of three dimensional objects resonate with me the most, however, I am a big vintage book enthusiast, so pretty much anything and everything in the rare book room enthralls me. There is a large block puzzle that is spectacular, the peepshow books inspired me to purchase a vintage one of my own by the author/illustrator Edward Gorey, and of course the Teddy manuscript is also a favorite.  There are just too many favorites in this place!!

Lauren O’Neill

Development Associate and Manager of Grants and Foundations

I work as the Development Associate and Manager of Grants and Foundations here at the NSLM. My primary duty is to manage our membership database and communicate with all of our members and visitors about our membership program. I send snail mail, but also have a lot fun creating and sending our eBlasts, which highlight a different item in our collections and shine a spotlight on our upcoming programs. In addition to assisting with our large-scale events, I manage our social media channels, working with the team to create and schedule content. When we temporarily closed due to COVID-19, I began to focus much more on our digital reach and engagement. Our eBlasts were sent more frequently and I began to work closely with my colleagues to create a more robust social media program, focused on education rather than marketing. I also began to use my former background as a post-award grant accountant to apply to state and federal grant programs to help us through some of the financial difficulties brought to us by COVID-19. This task has recently become a permanent portion of my job description!

Ogden Minton Pleissner (American, 1905 – 1983)
Fisherman on the George Pool, 20th century
watercolor on paper, 18 x 28 inches
Gift from a Private Collection, 2020

My favorite piece changes often because we have so much in our collections! A member recently asked that I highlight Thelwell’s cartoons in a weekly eBlast and I have to say they are quite amusing. I also really enjoy our newly acquired Pleissner’s! His watercolors are extremely bold and vibrant.  

Reid O’Connor

Director of Development

My title is Director of Development. The fun part about my job is there is no such thing as a normal work day! My main responsibilities include overseeing annual giving and our membership program, and planning major events such as our Polo Classic fundraiser and Open Late summer concerts. My favorite part of my job is having the opportunity to interact with members and friends who are passionate about our mission on a daily basis! I am constantly learning new things and meeting new people. COVID-19 has certainly changed the way we do things as most of our work is usually done in-person. During the pandemic we have been unable to hold many of our larger events and programs, but instead have been doing many more personal tours as well as phone calls and Zoom meetings! We are very lucky to have such a supportive community of members here at the NSLM, which has been critical in helping us weather the challenges of these past months.

Herbert Haseltine (American, 1877-1962)
Ralla: Harry Payne Whitney’s Champion Polo Pony, No. 2, 1910
bronze on marble base, 21 ½ x 32 x 9 ⅝ inches
Purchased with funds donated by Jacqueline B. Mars, 2018.

My favorite work in our collection is the sculpture of Harry Payne Whitney’s famous polo pony Ralla by Herbert Haseltine. Ralla: Harry Payne Whitney’s Champion Polo Pony, No. 2 is an impressive third-scale bronze of the pony on whom Whitney won the 1909 Westchester Cup. Haseltine has done such a wonderful job of capturing her notoriously difficult personality, depicting her with fierce eyes and her ears pinned-back. He truly brings her to life – you feel that she could walk right off the pedestal! As someone who plays polo and loves horses, you can’t help but appreciate her competitive nature and imagine what she might have been like out on the field.

Erica Libhart has served as the Mars Technical Services Librarian at the National Sporting Library & Museum (NSLM) since early 2016. The focus of her position is collection services, working to increase accessibility to NSLM’s collection of books, periodicals, and archival materials. The NSLM collections span over 350 years of the history of equestrian sport, fly fishing, wing shooting, other field sports, and country life.