Downstairs we have a file cabinet that houses the Library’s vertical files: documents that don’t necessarily belong in an archive collection, yet have significant value and are used as ready reference material to supplement our book and archive collections. Some of the subjects in our vertical files include a variety of horse associations, hunt clubs, and biographies of the artists and writers. Usually the documents in vertical files are a mix of grey literature: brochures, newspaper clippings, maps, catalogs, etc. At the NLSM our vertical files also contain a few research papers and drafts of articles that appear to have been written with the intent of publication, but for whatever reason, never made it to that stage.

Today, I am sharing portions of a draft paper from our Upperville Colt and Horse Show vertical file written sometime after the publication of Nina Carter Tabb’s article which was published in 1937. I have not been able to determine whether this piece appeared in print anywhere, but I thought it was a great summary of the show and includes all sorts of interesting historical tidbits. The author was a judge at the 1905 show, and appears to have judged later shows as well. Enjoy!

When Colonel Richard Hunter Dulany imported his Cleveland Bays from England, ten or fifteen years before the War between the States while the South was in its glory, to interest his neighbors and friends from afar in the breeding of high-class horses, he founded the Upperville Colt and Horse Show. In 1852, the first exhibition was held, as told me by Rozier Dulany, “at a place known as ‘The Vineyard’ in the suburbs of Upperville, which–as near as I can ascertain–is the same location under the giant oaks on the Grafton plantation, where the show has been held continuously ever since, except when discontinued on account of the Civil War.”

Christopher J. FitzGerald, one of the best authorities on the thoroughbred of America and who, for a number of years, had charge of the publicity of the Jockey Club–had never known much of Virginia except from hearsay, but after he had judged at the Upperville Colt Show, was as enthusiastic as the friend who had told him in the Palm Room of the old Boston Club in New Orleans about the great thoroughbred-loving breeders of Loudoun and Fauquier.

“Chris” wrote, “When honored with an invitation to serve as judge at the Upperville Colt Show a few years ago, I got my first glimpse of the country so lavishly praised by my friends. A few hours in company of those responsible for the perpetration of the Show, which had its inception long before the Civil War period, was an inspiring as it was revealing.”

By far the best history of this Show was written by Mayme Ober Peak in the Loudoun-Fauquier Magazine; and so that the interesting facts gathered by her may be saved for all time in book form, I quote from her writings:

On June 11, 1931, crowds again gathered for the annual exhibition of the Upperville Colt and Horse Show, on its grounds a little east of Upperville, much as they did over three-quarters of a century ago. What a contrast is found in this brilliant assemblage, and that first picnic crowd of horse lovers who gathered in the grove on the outskirts of Upperville, Va.

Then the entries comprised less than a dozen heavy drafts, shaggy mares and green hunters; there was no music except from the throats of the birds, and no grandstand seats except Fauquier stones and lap-robes on the ground. But when the lunch baskets were brought from the buggies and buck-boards, and their contents spread under the trees, no more enthusiastic spirit could have been found than among the little group of gentry and farmers, who, all unconsciously, were making turf history. For on that fine day in June, 1852, when was held the first colt show in the country, seed was sown from which grew the great Association of American Horse Shows.

The development of the show is an interesting story. The organizer and moving spirit of the idea was Colonel Richard Hunter Dulany, whose estate ‘Welbourne’ is a few miles from Upperville and who, before his death, was one of the largest landowners in this section of the Blue Ridge.

A gentleman of the old school — a hospitable, generous, public-spirited, he wielded a big influence in the community. His love for horses was a tradition. this love was inherited from his English ancestors, and handed down. The hunters Colonel Dulany bred and rode to hounds were always the envy of the neighboring gentry.

The idea of having an annual colt show and offering prizes for the best purebred colts exhibited was suggested to him by seeing such a show in connection with a county fair in Canada. Calling a meeting of the gentry, he laid the plan before them and it was met with instant and hearty cooperation.

Silver loving cups being decided upon as the most attractive prizes, Colonel Dulany went all the way to New York to purchase a supply. In those days Tiffany’s was almost as famous as it is now, and the Colonel went straight there to do his shopping. As it happened, Mr. Tiffany himself waited on the Virginian. When he found out for what purpose the cups were intended, he was highly interested and excited. in the breast of the Gotham silversmith, it seemed, also beat the heart of a sportsman; “I would consider it a great honor,” he said, “if you would permit me to contribute workmanship on the cups so they would cost you only the weight of the silver. Your plan appeals to me strongly and I would like to aid you in carrying it out.”

[The author continues with several more pages from Mayne Ober Peak’s article, but I will end her article here].

The Upperville Colt Show has undoubtedly played a great part in giving Virginia horses their place in the sun; but as it came in the hot days of June, I had never seen the Colt Show until I was asked to judge hunters there in 1905, and never shall I forget the interesting day. The paragraphs that follow tell of what happened then and also when I was judging later, while the guest of the President of the show, George Slater of Rose Hill.

The Show grounds are attractively laid out parallel to the old pike leading to Middleburg, and in the early days–as all can well remember–the dust from the road used to blow over the grandstand and make all those in attendance unhappy. This, of course, the cement covering has now eliminated. The stand backs on the road and with its enclosure guards one side of the show ring which is railed off from the grounds–which was part of Grafton, formerly “Number Six”–and is shaded by the beautiful oaks, planted a hundred years ago by some tree-loving ancestor. To guard the grounds proper, as the Show increased, horse boxes had been built which give a uniformity to the layout.

The breeding classes come in the morning and are attended by many; but the first great function is the luncheon which, like that of Epsom Downs on Derby Day, everyone brings for himself and his friends. History tells us that since the first Colt Show in ’53 the Dulanys have had their luncheon party come to one particular oak; the Carters just beyond; the Glascocks on farther. Not far away was the “Josh” Fletcher party; the Slaters under the tree beyond; and I am frank to say I never appreciated what find sportsmen and agriculturists lived round till I judged that Show in 1905.

Hot, hot, hot! Yes, piping hot! The ladies in the grandstand fanned themselves and brushed off the dust. There might have been a guard at the ring gate, but how could he stop anyone going into the ring when they were all friends of his and all interested to watch the judging and get a close view of the horses? So, in they crowded. The Dulanys; the great farmers; Colonels and Generals in the War; diplomats from Washington — all filled up the little ring and made it almost impossible to judge the jumping classes, as from the center of the ring you could not see any of the jumps except as the hunter rose in the air, and if you went over to one line of jumps, those on the other side were obscured from you. But it was always been that way. The dear old Colonel was here, there and everywhere, his kindly face shrouded in a grey beard and one arm crippled while leading the Virginia cavalry in Pickett’s Charge, that memorable day at Gettysburg when Lee’s valiant efforts to whip Meade were rendered impossible by Longstreet who, because his plan was not adopted, sulked in this tent.

Miss Ober tells of the beautiful Tiffany silver cups, one of which I had on exhibition at the second Sportsmen’s dinner in New York in 1912, when from all over America, trophies of the Turf and the Chase poured in. The illustration shows the beauty and simplicity of the Colt Show trophies which were so strongly battled for in 1852.

Bell-horses, bel-horses, what time of day? One o’clock, two o’clock, three and away!

The use of bells was first brought about for road warnings of the old convoys and before that by pack horses. In Central America I have heard them as the lead mule guides his pack train down the steep incline of the Andes.

It was a grand sight to see the great four and six horse teams in the ring at the earlier shows. The driver, astride a saddle on the near-wheeler, controlled the team by a jerk line which was attached to the off-side bit of the leader. The team was controlled as perfectly as Howlett controlled a six or four-in-hand, with all the reins in his left hand and his right about the collar of his whip, as he sat on the box of his coach in Paris.

Some of the teams were got up in the most imposing manner, the old-fashioned hames with balls of brass on top, the bell frame over the saddle, the plaited manes and tails with colored ribbands, and on a few the polished brass harness ornaments which were riveted onto the cheek pieces of the bridles and elsewhere…

At that time, 1905, there were few dealers present; now and then one from Philadelphia; but when fox-hunting came in strong–there are ten or twelve packs of hounds within thirty miles of Upperville–the breeding, breaking and selling of hunters has run up to thousands and thousands a year. I shall never forget two most important classes which I judged at one of the later shows. On being asked by George Slater to judge, I wrote down and explained to him the value of an outside course for hunters and jumpers. he accepted the idea and going down a day or two ahead of time, we laid the present course out, which has proved of great value. At that time David Gray, a fine three-quarter bred grey horse was –although twelve or fifteen years old–considered unbeatable. he could seemingly jump all day and never make a mistake. When his class was called, he put up the usual perfect score, but few entries later, came a three-quarter bred chestnut mare Miss Soliloquy bred by Jim Ferguson of Mountsville, which also went perfect, making a sparkling performance.

This chapter of the Upperville Colt and Horse show continues for a total of thirteen pages. There are great details here about the making of mint juleps, the families involved in the show, and descriptions of country life here in Virginia. I have included photos in the vertical file from the Washington Star dated June 5, 1949.

Does the woodblock print below look familiar? If not, sit back to learn more! Not only is a it a striking image of a horse, there is a pretty interesting backstory about the artist as well.

The woodblock print can be found in the National Sporting Library & Museum’s copy of Hippiatria sive Marescalia by Lorenzo Rusio. Rusio, who published under a Latinized version of his name, “Laurentius Rusius,” gained his expertise as a stable master to a Roman cardinal in the 14th century, according to a bibliography by Richard Baron von Hunersdorff:

Originally written in the 13th century, [Hippiatria] it was based on sources compiled at the court of Frederick II of Hohenstaufen, himself a passionate horseman. Described are methods of controlling the horse by means of physical force exercised by way of severe horse-bits. It was an attempt to solve the problem of quickly stopping and turning the heavy and coarse horses used in combat and jousting (176, von Hunersdorff).

In Hippiatria, the three large woodcuts were created by H.S. Beham (Hans Sebald Beham). Born in 1550, Beham was a noted German printmaker, and is known as the most prominent of the “Little Masters,” a group of German printmakers who produced a prodigious number of highly detailed prints during the first half of the 16th century. The artists were active a generation after the great artist, Albrecht Durer. Like Durer, Beham was also based in Nuremberg.

Beham was a young man when the Reformation broke out in 1517, when Martin Luther attempted to reform the Christian Church. Passionate about Luther’s ideas, Beham found himself caught in the cross-current of the new religious ideas, and had to flee from his home-base in Nuremberg several times to avoid arrest. For his part, Beham contributed to the “Wild Reformation” through woodcuts, the most popular and accessible form of publicity and to some extent, the acquisition of knowledge, in those days of limited literacy. In some ways, woodcuts prints were the TikTok videos of the 1500s. The year of the Peasants War, 1525, Sebald, and his younger brother Barthel, were banished from Nuremberg for religious and political disobedience. In 1528, after publishing a book on the proportions of the horse, Dises Büchlein zeyget an und lernet ein Mass oder Proportion der Ross, Beham was accused of plagiarizing unpublished work by Dürer and again fled from Nuremberg.

There are not enough records to determine whether or not Beham was indeed guilty of plagiarism. In any case, the nickname, “The Godless Painter” was given to Beham during his trial with the Nuremberg city council. According to scholar Alison G. Stewart:

In the following years, Beham once again ran into trouble in Nuremberg. On July 22, 1528, the town council prohibited Beham and his colleague “Iheronimus formschneidern,” probably the printer-woodcutter Hieronymus Andreae, from publishing Beham’s book on the proportions of horses … until Dürer’s book on human proportions was published posthumously by his widow, who was the manager of Dürer’s workshop. The fact that Beham fled town quickly when summoned by the authorities (which resulted in his wife having to send his coat to him) might suggest that he was indeed guilty of plagiarism, as charged, although his guilt has been neither proved nor disproved. But it is also possible that Beham left posthaste because he feared he would be imprisoned or expelled, having previously experienced the power of the Nuremberg authorities to do just that. 

Two woodcuts by H.S. Beham, each signed with his monogram beneath the horse
Close up of marking for the library of the Marquis de Guineye

This copy, a second edition published in Paris, contains the markings indicating that the book was once owned by the Marquis de Guineye. Later, the book was owned by the German researcher and academic, and book collector, J.H. Anderhub, whose bookplate dates ownership at 1937. According the the von Hunersdorff bibliography, the copy at the University of Cambridge is “imperfect, lacking the two leaves with the Beham woodcuts.” We are indeed lucky at the NLSM to have such a well-kept copy!

I recommend reading the fascinating article by Alison G. Stewart on Sebald Beham. She provides in-depth research on the art of Behald, his training and possible link to Dürer, plus great detail on the numerous(!) run-ins that Beham had with the law. You can read her article, Sebald Beham: Entrepreneur, Printmaker, Painter here: https://jhna.org/articles/sebald-beham-entrepreneur-printmaker-painter/.

Detail of engraving depicting the Duke of Newcastle, William Cavendish, on horseback, accompanied by groom

Did you know that the National Sporting Library & Museum owns a rare, first-edition of Methode et invention nouvelle de dresser les chevaux (Method and new way to train horses)? The volume, written by William Cavendish (1592-1676), the first duke of Newcastle, was published in 1657 in Antwerp, where the Royalist general lived in political exile during the Commonwealth period.

According to a bibliography by Richard von Hunersdorff, the folio-sized volume, published in French from an English manuscript, is illustrated with 42 double-page engravings by Abraham van Diepenbeeck, a Dutch painter of the Flemish school who was a student and assistant of Peter Paul Rubens. The engravings depict a variety of scenes: hunting scenes set at his estates at Welbeck and Bolsover Castle, his stud farm, and figurative scenes showing the duke worshiped by his horses with the gods of Olympus watching in amazement. To be fair, William Cavendish’s self-confidence was warranted: he trained in Naples and was the only English master of the High School of Riding. In addition, he taught the young Charles Stuart and his cousin, Prince Rupert and trained them to be accomplished horsemen. Cavendish returned to England, where King Charles II awarded the general a dukedom for his loyalty.

Detail of spine

We are not sure who received the NSLM’s presentation copy of Methode. The inscription on the title page, “Ex dono Illustrissimi Authoris, Evellendo Cultior” is attributed to John Evelyn. John Evelyn was an English writer, gardener, diarist, and bibliophile. His diary spanned his adult life, from 1640 to 1706, the year of his death. His work was overshadowed by a contemporary, Samuel Pepys. Evelyn was introduced to the Duke of Newcastle and his wife while also in exile, through Sir Richard Brown, an English Royalist who served as an English representative at the Court of France from 1641-1660. John Evelyn married Browne’s daughter in 1647 and it is noted that Brown greatly influenced Evelyn’s book collecting. The phrase, “Evellando Cultior” appear in other titles of Evelyn’s library. It is a Latin pun that translates to “more elegant as a result of pruning.” In addition, the title page of NSLM’s copy, contains the pressmark of John Evelyn: B.41 (see second photo below).

John Evelyn’s inscription atop the title page
John Evelyn’s pressmark

Both Browne and Evelyn lived in Paris while in exile, and according to Hunersdorff, both had their books bound in Paris using customized book binding hand tools, like the stamp that was created to combine their initials above and used to decorate the binding of Methode. You can see the “E” and “B” in the monogram below.

Bindings by Samuel Mearne. Left, Methode et Invention Nouvelle de dresser les chevaux. Antwerp: Chez Jacques van Meurs, 1657. National Sporting Library & Museum. Right,
The Book of Common Prayer. London: John Bill & Christopher Barker, [1662]. Bridwell Library, Southern Methodist University.

The NSLM’s volume of Methode was bound by Samuel Mearne (1624-1683), the bookbinder to King Charles II, whose work is regarded as a high point of pre-industrial bookbinding. Mearne’s bindings are known for their ornate gold-tooled and inlaid embellishments. He is attributed for the “cottage-roof” style, which refers to the design on the central panel where the top and bottom are decorated with motifs that resemble a roof. Most of the extant books by Mearne are service and prayer books used at the Chapel and Closet of Whitehall, where he replaced the bindings every three to five years. Mearne’s style was widely celebrated and Mearne and his bindery are recognized to this day for their contribution to the “golden age” of English bookbinding. As you can see from the photos above, Mearne’s style was very distinctive, but due to its popularity, would later be copied by other bookbinders.

The back cover of Methode

So how did the NSLM come to acquire this book? Sometime in the early 1990s, Ludwig von Hunersdorf’s book collection was available for purchase. Through the generosity of the Ohrstrom Foundation, the Library was able to purchase the entire collection from Richard Baron von Hunersdorff (yes, that is an extra “f”), a sixth-generation descendant of Ludwig Baron von Hunersdorf (1748-1812), a German riding master who in 1790 published his own treatise on equitation. Through the years, the books were passed down through the Hunersdorf family, and supplemented with additional acquisitions. The collection spans several centuries, with tiles from 1528 through the early 1900s. The 205 books arrived in Middleburg in the fall of 1993, in a 400-pound wooden crate from England. Ellen Wells, an NSL board member and head of the Special Collections Department at the Smithsonian, collated and made extensive notes of the collection.

More detail of Sir Richard Browne’s coat of arms on the spine of Methode.

I will conclude with Richard Baron von Hunersdorff’s description of the volume: “Folio… Additional double-page engraved title (dated 1658), 42 double-page engraved and etched plates after Abraham van Diepenbeke, 50 woodcut diagrams in the text, ornamental initials. Bound in contemporary mottled calf by Samuel Mearne, the sides tooled in gilt with a triple filet border with Sir Richard Browne’s crest in the inner corners, roll-tooled panel with semi-circular ornament; Browne’s monogram and a smaller version of his crest in the inner corners; goatskin onlay with Browne’s arms and motto in center of backcover; spine with 7 raised bands, lettered in one panel, the other panels tooled alternately with Browne’s monogram and crest in oval compartments with elaborate center pieces; edges gilt; neatly rehinged and corners restored.”

Did you know that the National Sporting Library & Museum (NSLM) has an Aldine book? Neither did I! Till last week! I was reviewing the Library’s rare book collection for items published prior to 1700, when I spotted the word “Aldine” in the library catalog.

The Aldine Press was founded in Venice in 1494 by Aldus Manutius. He was a noted scholar and Renaissance humanist. Specifically, he focused on the publication of classical Greek texts because he believed that reading Aristotle and Aristophanes first-hand provided an elevated reading experience. Today, Aldus is remembered for making Venice a center of Greek printing and scholarship, and for commissioning the typeface we know today as italic.

After his death, the press passed to other family members before his youngest son Paulus took over the press. The book below was printed under the aegis of Paulus Manutius. The book at the NSLM, Poetae tres egregii nunc primum in lucem editi [Three Distinguished Poets Published for the First Time], published in 1534, was the first time these ancient poems on hunting and fishing were printed using a press. The book opens with De Venatione by the first-century writer Faliscus Gratius. The second poem is a fragment of Ovid’s Halieuticon [Treatise on Fishing, a fragment], and the third poem is Cynegeticon [Hunting with Dogs] by the third-century writer Nemesanius. The book concludes with Ecologues by the first-century writer Calpurnius Siculus.

In the photos above, you can see Aldus’s printer’s device, the anchor and dolphin, which are printed on the title page and on the verso of the last leaf. The book appears to have been restored in 19th-century cloth with red morocco spine labels. We are proud that this classic book found a home in Middleburg! It reminds us that the love of hunting and angling has thrived for only not hundreds but thousands of years.

Gratius, Faliscus; Nemesanius; and Siculus, Calpurnius. Poetae tres egregii nunc primum in lucem editi [Three distinguished poets published for the first time]. Venice: Aldine Press, 1534.

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? This is the second post in the series, by Michelle Guzman, George L. Ohrstrom, Jr. Head Librarian.

The road to the shooting grounds

Last October, I had the opportunity to spend an afternoon shooting for the first time. For an especially appropriate team building activity, Executive Director Elizabeth von Hassell invited the staff to an afternoon of clay shooting. Elizabeth, Director of Development Reid O’Connor, Senior Collections Manager and Registrar Lauren Kraut, and I drove over to the shooting grounds owned by Isobel Ziluca, who would be our clay instructor for the afternoon.

I had never shot a gun before. I was very excited, but can’t lie, I was also quite anxious about the upcoming lesson. The day of the shoot was an exceptionally beautiful afternoon. Not only was the sky the perfect tone of blue, it was also comfortably warm! The Californian in me rejoiced.

We arrived at Crockett’s Shooting Club and met our instructor, Isobel Ziluca. I made the mistake of reading her profile on her website prior to the lesson: Isobel is a lifetime member and certified instructor with National Sporting Clays Association. She is also an AA Class competitive shooter and current 2020 All-American 12 gauge team (and 20, 28 and 410 gauge teams). She currently sits in the top 5 shooters of the North East. I was worried that my total novice status would irritate her to no end!

Isobel with Reid and Elizabeth

Isobel brought the shotguns over using a shooting cart, which looks like a very chic baby jogger. We took turns shooting round robin style. As Isobel handed me a Beretta, the shooting lesson began with gun safety first! As I held the shotgun, I immediately realized that the gun was much, much heavier than I thought it would be. After a couple of minutes on learning how to position my feet and keep balance, I held the shotgun up at an angle to target the clay, my arms withered, and with the butt of the gun against my face, I pulled the trigger. Miss!

Throughout the lesson, Isobel patiently taught me how to track the clay target, how I should be moving the gun (slightly!) in sync with its trajectory, to conclude with pulling the trigger. I have to confess; shooting was a lot more athletic than I thought it would be. The tension created from the proper stance, holding the gun properly, raising the arm, monitoring the target, taking aim, to the pulling of the trigger is a lot of muscle and mind work. I was completely fascinated by the process!

Lauren and Reid were pros compared to my poor showing! Isobel raised the stakes metaphorically by having Elizabeth shoot at two targets, which Elizabeth managed with a breeze! As we progressed through the lesson, we found it hilarious how we each had our own distinct shooting styles. Mine stood out the most. I literally wait a ludicrous amount of time before I pull the trigger! For one reason or the other, I kept waiting before shooting! I am generally a very patient person, however that afternoon patience was no virtue. Luckily, I managed to hit two targets that afternoon.

The real treat was watching Isobel demonstrate her amazing shooting skills. Now I understand why people lined up to watch Annie Oakley. It’s been a long time since I’ve let out a gasp, but that afternoon, watching Isobel take out multiple targets, one right after the other, was incredible. The accuracy was unbelievable!

Lauren, Isobel, and I

In all, I would definitely go shooting again! The afternoon was laid-back fun, the scenery was gorgeous and inspiring, and the instruction from Isobel was a lot of fun! The afternoon also allowed me to appreciate the sporting literature from the 19th century that I often flip through from the NSLM’s collections. I often thought that the writing was tedious, boring, and slow. However, having experienced an afternoon of shooting, I have come to realize that the authors, though not very successfully, were trying to convey the excitement and rush that come with the sport. A big thank you to Elizabeth for the fun afternoon out!

Title page from, The Sportsman’s Companion

A key component of sporting life is the outdoors. Whether you are viewing the angling scenes depicted in the newly acquired Benson and Pleissner paintings on view at the Museum, or reading a bit of Frank Forester, the textual descriptions and painted, drawn, or sculpted manifestations of nature, the countryside, fauna, and wildlife are prominent in the paintings and books at the NSLM. I think sporting life enthusiasts often forget that sport and nature are the two distinct concepts that have evolved so that our minds associate them. Yet, that association is a fairly recent cultural development that can be traced to the late 1800s in the United States.

The discussions that took place in the late 1800s, in periodicals such as “Spirt of the Times” and in guidebooks for hunters and anglers began to highlight conservation as one of the core duties of a true sportsman. That new identity was reflected in new books detailing hunting and fishing etiquette and made distinctions between gentlemanly hunting and market hunting. Additionally, during this period, a key subgroup of hunters and fishermen became convinced that they were the only group capable of saving the country’s game from uncontrolled hunting and fishing.

Two books at the NSLM that document this trend are: American Waterfowl: Their Present Situation and the Outlook for their Future and Fish and Game, Now or Never: A challenge to American Sportsmen on wild-life restoration. One aspect that these two books illustrate is the growing need for nationwide legislation for the protection of wildlife.

American Waterfowl, written by John C. Philips and Frederick C. Lincoln, and published in 1930, urge sportsmen to give “immediate and urgent” attention to the conservation of wetlands, and chastise the amount of time focused on gear and equipment versus restoration :

 In spite of all the work of conservationists and all the clamor on the subject of a decreasing game supply, the average sportsman to-day spends at least twenty or thirty times as much on his equipment and hunting trips as he does on game restoration.

With regards to legislation:

We need to have sportsmen grasp the problems discussed herein in a national way rather than in terms of States or Counties. The well-to-do sportsman must be made aware of his responsibility before it is too late to check the unfavorable trend which we see to-day in nearly all our wild-fowl resorts.

Fish and Game, Now or Never, by Harry Bartow Hawes, published in 1935, has a friendlier tone, and appeals to the fisherman’s patriotic spirit to preserve the American landscape, which makes sense, as he served on the U.S. House and Senate representing Missouri. An active conservationist, Hawes was appointed to the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission in 1929 and was author of the Duck Stamp Law!

 The fight to conserve our big outdoors and its wild-life is a patriotic duty. Increasing its area is an achievement for health and better citizenship.

Like earlier texts, Hawes highlights how the hunter and fishermen are well-suited for the conservation and intelligent management of wildlife and open spaces. He links the avocations with the responsibility to act as a steward of the natural bounty:

Usually the hunter is also a fisherman. He uses his rod in summer, but, on the coming of frost and snow, he takes up his shotgun or rifle. Fishermen and the hunters, then, should combine for their mutual benefit and for the protection of their sport. But this is not their only duty. They must appreciate the ethics of sport; the necessity for limiting the game bag and the sanctity of the breeding season.

These books written by sportsmen played a key role in motiving the American public toward a greater awareness of the environment and concern for preserving it. These calls provide a foundation for future conservation action, that continues even to the present day. The link between sportsmen and conservation efforts became explicit and widely acknowledged by the 1930s. These books, as well as other early documents of conservation can be viewed at the Library at the NSLM.

Robert Carter III of Nomini Hall, 1753 by Thomas Hudson (1701–1779). Oil on canvas
Gift of Louise Anderson Patten, 1972.17. Image from Wikimedia Commons

The blog oftentimes focuses on items from the F. Ambrose Clark Rare Book Collection, but the collections in the Reading Room are just as fascinating and often provide interesting insight into the history of Virginia. I stumbled across the book, Robert Carter of Nomini Hall while reshelving several books and something about the simplicity of its cover and paperback binding intrigued me. The book, originally published in 1941, describes the life of Robert Carter III (1727-1804), an heir to a large fortune and extensive landholdings who served for two decades on the Virginia Governor’s Council, hence he nickname, “Councillor.”

While whole books could be written about various aspects of his life, the author, Louis Morton, chose to focus on the economic and social aspects of the plantation system in 18th century Virginia through the numerous records Roberts Carter III left behind.

By the time Robert Carter III was 21-years old, he owned over 70,000 acres. Most of his properties were located in the back country and Northern Neck area of Virginia. Nomini Hall was purchased by his grandfather, “King Carter” in 1710 and comprised 2,500 acres. An imposing Georgia-styled house was built by his father Robert Carter II in 1729 which was 76-feet long, 44-feet wide, and was two-stories high.

Map of Carter’s Landholdings in Virginia

Carter not only planted tobacco, but due to the crop’s vulnerability, Carter searched for less volatile sources of revenue. For a significant portion of time, Carter farmed grains and cereals instead of tobacco. He also cultivated corn for both food and business purposes, since it was corn was an acceptable form of payment for taxes. 

One of the more interesting business initiatives Carter pursued was his investment in an iron ore. Through his marriage into the Tasker family of Maryland, Carter had access to the production and markets served by Baltimore Iron Works. Carter not only produced iron for local markets in Virginia, but he made a significant amount of money selling iron to buyers in England. The iron business was able to tide Carter over when his tobacco crops were not successful.

As an heir, Carter extended his already considerable wealth as a plantation owner, manufacturer, and businessman. Carter’s wealth is reflected not only through his extensive landholdings, but through documentation of the extensive parties, dinners, and guests who stayed at Nomini Hall. Nomini Hall regularly hosted dances, balls, barbecues, card games, and other social events as well. Notably, Nomini Hall consumed “27,000 pounds of pork, twenty beeves, 550 bushels of wheat, an even larger amount of corn, four hogsheads of rum, and 150 gallons of brandy.”

Unfortunately, Carter’s success as a planter rested on the enslavement of human beings. A significant portion of the book discusses the coerced labor at Carter’s farms. During the early 18th century, the book notes that the labor force was made up of a mix of indentured servants from England who were later replaced by enslaved persons.  According to various records in 1772, 350 slaves were forced to work among his various plantations. However, a tutor employed by Carter wrote in his diary that Carter owned over 600 slaves. While the author believes the tutor’s number to be an exaggeration, in 1791, Carter listed all his slaves in a deed of manumission. That deed listed 509 slaves, aged between one day and eight-nine years old. The book, unfortunately, reflects the attitudes of the 1940s, and does not disparage the use of slaves. It is a bit disconcerting how easily the author treats slaves as economic inputs.

The last few chapters of the book depart the topic of business, manufacturing, and plantations and delves into the personal life of Robert Carter III.

“In one respect, Robert Carter, in his later years, broke sharply with his fellows of the Virginia aristocracy.” In 1776, Carter, nearly 50 years old, developed doubts regarding organized religion and turned to deism. He left deism for the then small Baptist Church in 1778. Many years later, Carter, dissatisfied with predestination, began to read the teachings of Emanuel Swedenborg. So convinced was Carter about the value of the doctrine, he commissioned the first printing Swedenborgian hymnal in America. Subsequently, Carter moved to Baltimore, the unofficial seat of the Swedenborgian movement, and remained there until his death in 1804.

Carter is most remembered for the manumission of his 509 slaves which he began in 1791. In his deed for manumission, Carter stated, “I have for some time past been convinced that to retain them in Slavery is contrary to the true Principles of Religion and Justice, and that therefor it as my Duty to manumit them….” Indeed, Carter settled the freed men and women on land that he gave them.

In addition to this book, the organization, Nomini Hall Slave Legacy, which is looking to trace the descendants of the freed slaves of Nomini Hall, contains a plethora of information about Carter, Nomini Hall, and documents genealogies of the original freed slaves of Nomini Hall.

Eugene Connett, III founded the Derrydale Press in 1927, a press devoted exclusively to sporting books.  Books published by Derrydale are eagerly sought after and are known not only for their beauty but for their sharp focus on sporting literature topics.  Today, a dedicated following of Derrydale Press enthusiasts collect books exclusively from this publisher.

Eugene Connett, III. Image from the American Museum of Fly Fishing.

Eugene Connett, 3rd was descended from an old New Jersey sporting family which owned one of the oldest men’s hat factories in the U.S.  A graduate of St. Paul’s School and Princeton University, Eugene Connett, worked for his family’s hat business for fourteen years.  During this time, Connett, an avid sportsman, was authoring several sporting articles that were published in magazines and newspapers like The American Angler, Field and Stream, The Sportsman, and that he also wrote his first book, Wing Shooting and Angling, which was published in 1922 by Charles Scribner’s Sons.

After graduating from Princeton, Connett sold the hat manufacturing business which had been in the family for over four generations and took some time off.

He wrote: “I took several months off and went fishing—I’ll get to the point in a minute!  During those happy days on various trout streams I made up my mind that I wanted to publish fine sporting books, but I knew I had to learn something about printing.  To make a long story somewhat shorter, I asked Johnston & Company, who had printed some catalogues for us in the hat business, if they would give me a job as a printing salesman.  With something less than enthusiasm on their part, I was allowed to sell printing for them.  After a reasonably successful, but extremely harrowing year at this fearful task, I felt ready to print fine books.  I did spend a great deal of time studying in the New York Public Library and the Morgan Library, and I did spend a summer fishing and studying in England.” (Siegel)

This start-up spirit is reflected in how the name was chosen. According to Connett, looking back at the press after he had closed it, the name Derrydale is “from a bottle of whiskey and a map of Ireland”.

At the onset, Connett advertised general printing services as part of his business portfolio, along with private publishing. He had not been able to gather enough sporting content to exclusively publish sporting literature.  His search for new authors led to Connett to “cut down his own hunting and fishing to two days a week, [I] has[d] resigned from all but three rod & gun clubs, one yacht club”.

Connett announced in 1928 that he would be taking over the famed New York City antiquarian bookseller—Ernest Gee’s—project of re-printing early American sporting books.  According to the most authoritative study of The Derrydale Press, “the shift of emphasis in his advertising was the fact that he had [finally] obtained enough manuscripts of sporting authors to be able to call himself a publisher of sporting books”. (Siegel)

Connett’s personal investment to his press is evident in how he managed the press. Eugene Connett oversaw the design, production, and marketing of the books.  There was no advisory board to guide and assist the choice of books issued by The Derrydale Press. “I have assumed this responsibility personally, because the objectives I had in view when I started the Press were so definite in my mind”. 

If you examine any one of the Derrydale books, you will notice that there are very few embellishments if any, on many of titles.  Any artwork on the covers and even within are limited and understated.  This is because Connett believed in the primacy of his content over any decoration.  He noted, “As my books were for people who would really read them, I felt that any decoration which attracted attention away from the text was unsound.”

The NSLM’s Collection of Derrydales

So, what makes a Derrydale a Derrydale?

Many authorities have opined about what makes a Derrydale a Derrydale. What I could discern in the literature some key characteristics:

  1. Original contributions to American sporting literature
  2. High production quality /technical execution of the print

While Derrydales are coveted for their production value, Connett himself believed that the purpose of the press was to “(1) to reprint the very scarce Early American books on sport which had become so rare that some of them would never be seen outside a few private collections; (2) to publish a series of hand-colored prints on rag paper which would give a true and permanent picture of contemporary sport in this country, and (3) to produce a group of books on contemporary American sport which, because of their beauty, would be preserved instead of discarded in time”. (Washington Post)

Connett sought to establish the legitimacy of American sporting literature through the reprinting of: Memoirs of the Gloucester Fox Hunting Club, The American Shooter’s Manual, The Sportsman’s Portfolio and The Sportsman’s Companion. The NSLM owns each of these titles.

Memoirs of the Gloucester Fox Hunting Club was originally published in 1830, but was so difficult to find by 1927, that Ernest Gee decided to have it privately printed. In the publisher’s note he stated, “The importance of this history of the earliest organized Foxhunting Club in America seems to me to be of so much interest that it should be preserved. I have… privately printed a small edition, so that the present-day sportsmen may have a record of the doings of their ancestors over one hundred years ago.” (375 printed)

The American Shooter’s Manual was originally published in 1827 and is one of the first practical books on Field Shooting to be published in America. (375 printed)

The Sportsman’s Portfolio was originally published in 1855, and according to Gee’s note in the preface, he had only been able to trace the existence of three copies, all located in private collections.  Gee described it as “the most profusely illustrated early sporting book published in America, as it contains twenty superb woodcuts delineating the various Field Sports practiced at that time… I hope that it will find some favour with the ever-growing band of Sportsmen who value the records of olden day sport in America”. (400 printed)

The Sportsman’s Companion was originally published in 1783. Copies of first through third editions were scarce, totaling six. Ernest Gee wrote, “The importance of this little book has not been realized, as so few people know if its existence”.  This book emphasizes one of the main missions of Derrydale, to produce fine-quality American sporting books. Gee wrote, “it is not an Americanized version of an English book but treats of American birds and American Shooting conditions as they have seldom been treated since.” (200 printed)

In addition to historical American sporting literature, Derrydale also wanted to publish the works of contemporary sporting authors. He was able to have some of the most highly-regarded sporting experts in their fields publish for the Derrydale Press. The NSLM owns the following titles:

Gordon Grand was the joint master of the Millbrook Hunt in New York.  He wrote some foxhunting stories for his children and friends, and at Connett’s suggestion, he compiled a few stories which would be published under the title, The Silver Horn in 1932

Harry Worcester Smith, another Derrydale author, the first American to be made a master of hounds in England, and all-around expert horseman, wrote about his foxhunting experiences in Life and Sport in Aiken.

A local, W.B. Streett, who hunted with the Warrenton hunt and was honorary whipper-in authored Gentleman Up (1930) and is the first book on Hunt Race Meetings ever published in America and features rare color plate illustrations by Paul Brown.

Many Derrydale titles were privately printed. The NSLM owns the following two titles below:

Gallant Fox: A Memoir.  This is one of the rarest Derrydales because it was a privately printed memoir limited to only 50 copies. Only five copies are known to have been recorded.  Gallant Fox dominated American racing in 1929 and 1930 and became the second horse to win the U.S. Triple Crown. This was written by his owner and written the year Gallant Fox retired to stud.  This was purchased with funds donated by: Mrs. Jacqueline B. Mars, Dr. Timothy J. Greenan, Mrs. Helen K. Groves, and Dr. Manuel H. Johnson.

The NSLM owns one of only 21 Cherished Portraits of Thoroughbred Horses. This is another book privately printed by Derrydale Press. William Woodward—owner of Gallant Fox—owned a collection of horse portraits and was interested in having a book made of the portraits. This is considered Connett’s “first major work in book production… [and] Connett’s most ambitious project”. (Siegel, 174)

One of the scarcest Derrydale items is the prospectus of The Southern Grasslands Hunt and Racing Foundation. The prospectus describes the proposed acquisition of a 28-square-mile tract along the Cumberland River in Tennessee for sporting purposes.  The creation of Tennessee Grasslands fulfills a vision going back to 1929 with the founding of the Southern Grasslands Hunt and Racing Foundation on the property, which included members of the Vanderbilt, Whitney and du Pont families, The Tennessean reported.

There is one item that never made it to press.  After studying the art and business of setting up a printing press, Connett set up a press in his own home, in his study.  His first press is a proof of the first page of Fysshynge Wyth an Angle.  The NSLM has a draft preface to work written by Connett.  He states, “There are two reasons why I have chosen to reprint The Treatise of Fysshynge with an Angle: first because it is one of the early books printed in the English language, and second because of my love for fishing.  The NSLM also has an estimate from B.F. Morrison for typesetting, and what makes this item unique is the fact that we also have Connett’s own copy of the first American edition which was published in 1875.  This treatise is the earliest book on fishing printed in English.

For anyone who has taken a tour of the NSLM’s F. Ambrose Clark Rare Book Room, the name Vladimir Littauer will be a familiar one. The Littauer Collection, gifted to the NSLM by Andrew and Anya Littauer in 2006, contains over 200 books and pamphlets on equitation and horsemanship from the 17th through the 20th centuries. Captain Vladimir S. Littauer’s (1892-1989) influence on American riding is incredibly significant. Not only was he horseback riding master, he was in much demand as a riding instructor, and was a prolific author. Littauer published 17 books before his death in 1989.

Littauer was born in the Ural Mountains of Russia but grew up in St. Petersburg. In the fall of 1911, at age 19, he entered the two-year officer training program at the Nicholas Cavalry School in St. Petersburg, where he was trained according to the French tradition.

During the Summer Olympics of 1912, Russian cavalry officers who had spent time in Pinerolo, Italy learning methods pioneered by Captain Federico Caprilli distinguished themselves and excited much interest in Caprilli’s new system of “forward riding.” Around 1913, senior coronet Vladimir Sokolov introduced Littauer to Caprilli’s revolutionary method of riding. In 1913, Littauer was commissioned as a cornet (second lieutenant) in the 1st Sumsky Hussars, where he served against Germany during World War I, rising to the rank of Captain. After the October Revolution of 1917, Littauer joined the White Army, fighting in the Russian Civil War in Ukraine and Siberia before fleeing with his family to Canada in 1920. Littauer came to the United States in 1921.

The Boots & Saddles Riding School: 1927-1937. New York: Reffes Printing Co., 1937. Gift of Mr. Paul Cronin.

In October 1927, Littauer with two other former Russian cavalry officers, Colonel Prince Kader A. Guirey and Captain Sergei N. Kournakoff, founded the Boots and Saddles Riding School to teach the principles of dressage they had learned in cavalry school. Soon they began experimenting with teaching Caprilli’s forward riding methods, and the school found success at its New York City location on 316 East 91st Street.

A small history of Boots & Saddles published in 1937—gifted to the NSLM by Mr. Paul Cronin in 2019—provides insight into school’s curriculum, courses, competitions, and their graduates. According to the school’s history, the three former cavalry officers had “exactly $2,000” to establish the school. “Of this limited amount, $750 had to be paid as a deposit on the lease, leaving only $1,250 for the purchase of horses and equipment necessary alterations, and to face current expenses.”

After four years, the original old milk-wagon barn that was converted into a ring was torn down and replaced by a new 90 x 45 foot ring with a glass roof. The facility was now able to board 40 horses and included a reviewing stand that could accommodate 150 people which was “furnished in country-club style.” During the summer, the school taught in several towns outside New York City so that students could take what they learned in the ring and practice in the country.

The Jumping Course at Mt. Kisco, New York

At registration, students were required to self-assign themselves to either the Exercise Group or the Horsemanship Group. According to the registration form below, “…we decided to divide our Students into two groups: those who aim high and are willing to work hard, and those who are satisfied with elementary knowledge and wish to acquire it by easy stages.”

The registration form for Boots & Saddles

The students were divided into several classes depending on their “knowledge, ability, and aspirations.” Classes were 55 minutes each, with classes offered weekdays and weekends. It is interesting to note that all instructors taught the same method of equitation, but because “each one has something individual to offer,” all students studied under all instructors in rotation. Of course, the key feature of the curriculum was the Modern Forward Seat as seen below:

The school proved to be wildly successful. The school took pride in teaching students how to learn quickly and ride well. By 1937, Boots & Saddles had instructed 3,300 students, provided over 64,000 lessons, held 34 competitions, and operated 10 summer branches.

Young contestants pose for a photo (December 15, 1935)


In 1937, Littauer left Boots and Saddles to begin working with students on their own horses and to offer riding clinics at schools, colleges and hunt clubs. He was a frequent guest lecturer at Sweet Briar College in Virginia where one of his students, Harriet Rogers, founded a riding program for the college. Over the years Captain V. S. Littauer conducted original research which, through his writing, resulted in major contributions to the sport of riding.

Top: Mrs. John V. Bouvier, III at the Southampton Horse Show

Sometimes the best things are found by accident, and that is what happened when I came across this photo album in the archives. I was downstairs looking for some photographs of Middleburg, but instead came across this album on the Los Altos Hunt. I was pretty excited, as a native Northern Californian. I was born in Redwood City, not too far from Woodside and Portola Valley, where the Los Altos Hunt Club would meet.

Anyway, I was very confused about why the archive box also contained several baby albums, until I realized I was in the Wallace W. Nall collection at the NSLM.

Wallace W. “Wally” Nall (1922-2003) was a painter involved with horses for most of his life. After service in the Army’s First Cavalry during WWII, he studied at the College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland, California. His early career began with fashion illustration in studios in San Francisco and New York.

In addition to judging and showing, Nall founded the Los Altos Hunt in Woodside, California, in 1953 and served as its first master until 1956. Nall designed the hunt buttons for the Los Altos Hunt. In later years he lived in New Jersey, riding to hounds there, before establishing himself as a highly sought-after portraitist in and around Middleburg, Virginia in the 1970s.

Wally Nall brought his firsthand knowledge of horsemanship to many of his commissioned portrait work, which is in many collections in Virginia. Many of Nall’s works include foxhunting scenes, drawn from his experience riding to hounds. The Virginia huntsmen Nall portrayed include Melvin Poe, Orange County Hounds; Albert Poe, Piedmont Fox Hounds; Charles Kirk, Piedmont Fox Hounds; Fred Duncan, Middleburg Hunt; and Charlie George, Middleburg Hunt.

You can view this album at the NLSM! Just drop me or Erica a line.