Now that we’ve completed reorganizing and re-cataloging the books in the Main Reading Room, I’ve begun work on the books housed in the F. Ambrose Clark Rare Book Room.

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The F. Ambrose Clark Rare Book Room in the lower level of the Library.

This room has a controlled climate that protects our delicate, rare, or unique items, including books, manuscripts, and ephemera.  Finding beautiful or interesting items within this collection is common but I thought I’d share a pair of items that really caught my eye recently.

The Library has many items housed in clamshell boxes.  Often these protective cases are used to save fragile antiquarian books from further damage and soiling, however, some books are issued in clamshells by their publishers.  These tend to be deluxe editions, usually with elaborate bindings and featuring signatures from the author and or artist.  One such volume is Trout & Bass: a diverse collection of angling literature, both prose and poetry, compiled by Stephen Bodio (1993).

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Trout & Bass: a diverse collection of angling literature, both prose and poetry, compiled by Stephen Bodio (1993).  The gift of John H. and Martha Daniels.  Housed in the F. Ambrose Clark Rare Book Room.

This rather subdued green case does indeed contain a deluxe volume, one of only 50 produced.  The lid of this case hides a surprise.  Mounted inside are 18 hand tied fishing flies in pristine condition.  It was quite the surprise to pull open the lid and find these delicate works of art.

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Trout & Bass: a diverse collection of angling literature, both prose and poetry, compiled by Stephen Bodio (1993).  The gift of John H. and Martha Daniels.  Housed in the F. Ambrose Clark Rare Book Room.

Here’s a closer look at a few of the flies.  They were all tied by Jack Gartside.

In addition to the book, and the flies, there is a folio containing unbound plates of all the black and white illustrations that appear in the book.  Each signed by the artist, Alan James Robinson.

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Illustration by Alan James Robinson, in Trout & Bass (1993).  The gift of John H. and Martha Daniels.  Housed in the F. Ambrose Clark Rare Book Room.

The six watercolor images from the book are also included as unbound plates.  Each is individually cased and is signed by the artist, Alan James Robinson.

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Cutthroat Trout by Alan James Robinson, in Trout & Bass (1993).  The gift of John H. and Martha Daniels.  Housed in the F. Ambrose Clark Rare Book Room.

The whole collection makes a very nice deluxe edition and housed safely in its clamshell case, and in the controlled climate of the Rare Book Room, it will continue to amaze visitors for many decades to come.

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Trout & Bass: a diverse collection of angling literature, both prose and poetry, compiled by Stephen Bodio (1993).  The gift of John H. and Martha Daniels.  Housed in the F. Ambrose Clark Rare Book Room.

The second item of interest turned up in a container marked simply “ephemera.”  Among its contents we found a large wooden box with a colorful illustration on its lid.

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Six-sided puzzle with hunting scenes, images by John Sanderson-Wells.  Late 19th early 20th century.  The gift of John H. and Martha Daniels.  Housed in the F. Ambrose Clark Rare Book Room.

Sliding the lid off we discovered the box contained a puzzle.

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Six-sided puzzle with hunting scenes, images by John Sanderson-Wells.  Late 19th early 20th century.  The gift of John H. and Martha Daniels.  Housed in the F. Ambrose Clark Rare Book Room.

A cube puzzle to be precise.

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Six-sided puzzle with hunting scenes, images by John Sanderson-Wells.  Late 19th early 20th century.  The gift of John H. and Martha Daniels.  Housed in the F. Ambrose Clark Rare Book Room.

This sort of puzzle features a different image on each side of its cube shaped pieces, so there are six puzzles in one box.  Very efficient!  The six in one feature isn’t the only advantage cube puzzles have over traditional jigsaw puzzles, their cubical pieces are also much harder to lose than the small flat pieces that make up a jigsaw.

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An individual cube from the puzzle.  Three of the six images/sides are visible.  Six-sided puzzle with hunting scenes, images by John Sanderson-Wells.  Late 19th early 20th century.  The gift of John H. and Martha Daniels.  Housed in the F. Ambrose Clark Rare Book Room.

In addition to the image on the lid of the box, there are five posters showing the other five images that can be assembled from the cubes.  One is of fox hunting, two of wing shooting, and two of stag hunting.  All are by John Sanderson-Wells. 

The simple appearance of the cube puzzle is deceptive.  The user has to first figure out which of the six sides on each piece belongs to the design they are working on, and only after that can one determine where the piece belongs in the overall image.

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Six-sided puzzle with hunting scenes, images by John Sanderson-Wells.  Late 19th early 20th century.  The gift of John H. and Martha Daniels.  Housed in the F. Ambrose Clark Rare Book Room.

Both these items are behind the locked door in the Rare Book Room but that doesn’t mean you can’t see them.  You just need to contact us prior to your visit for an appointment.  You can also schedule a tour of the Rare Book Room during which you will see an assortment of the interesting and unique items housed there.  To make an appointment or to book a tour, contact us at info@nationalsporting.org


 

SONY DSCErica 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, as well as fly fishing, wing shooting, and other field sports. Have a question? Contact Erica by e-mail

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When looking to identify a book as one’s own, the discerning bibliophile will opt for a book plate. Book plates range from lighthearted and fanciful to historic and dignified.

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Book plate including family arms of the Fifth Earl of Lonsdale.

Here at NSLM, we have thousands of books with the plates of collectors past. Many enshrine the book owner’s love of turf and field sports.

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Book Plate of Harry Worcester Smith.

Book plates have been considered collectible items since the 1950s, with whole organizations devoted to the collecting of plates. We recently came across a collection of draft book plate designs by Robert Ball. Ball’s completed book plates are gorgeous, contemplative pieces, and many of the rough drafts in the book are sketched out on wax paper.

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Finalized book plate in memory of Frederick Sprague Barbour for The Norfolk Library.

 

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A copper plate of a draft book plate for Jerome Marks Rich. Mr. Rich rejected this design and the plate was sold in 1970.
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Positive draft book plate for Jerome Marks Rich.
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Robert Ball drafted a book plate for Henry Ford. This pencil sketch is on wax-lined tissue paper.
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A draft book plate for the NSLM? We were surprised to stumble across this piece. To our knowledge, the plate was never completed and NSLM has no books with the plate.

More to come as we see if we can research the history of the NSLM book plate by Robert Ball. It would be wonderful if we could identify a completed version!

Thank you to all our readers for a great 2016! Staff will be out of office next week for holidays, and we’ll update the blog again on our new Tuesday schedule beginning January 3.


Wedding Photography by Spiering Photography

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

Occasionally, the connections of the sporting world are documented in “ephemera,” the fancy archival word for “paper-based miscellany.” This week, while finishing up our reprocessing of foxhunting books, we happened across a copy of Letters from an Old Sportsman to a Young One by A. Henry Higginson.

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“Gun Metal, A. Henry Higginson up. December 1, 1913.” National Sporting Library & Museum, A. Henry Higginson Scrapbook Collection (MC0012), Middlesex Hounds Photographs, 1909-1914.

Higginson was an influential foxhunting gentleman in his day, serving as president of MFHA from 1915 to 1930. He also wrote several books on foxhunting. In 1934 he took up residence in England, where he spent the rest of his life.

Our copy of Letters from an Old Sportsman was owned by Lester Karow.

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Copy owned by Lester Karow, 1929.

Lester Karow was one of the four founders of the National Sporting Library & Museum. Originally from Savanah, Georgia, he spent much of his time in Virginia.

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“Lester Karow, undated photograph.” Photograph courtesy of Charles Mackall, Karow’s nephew.

Pasted into the front endpapers is a clipping of Karow’s comments on the book from a 1942 issue of The Chronicle of the Horse.

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Higginson, on seeing this, took the time to write a letter of thanks to Karow. The letter is also pasted onto the endpapers of the book.

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It’s fitting: a letter from an old sportsman to a young one. And we can read it today because Karow donated it to our Library in 1957, shortly before Higginson died in 1958.


Wedding Photography by Spiering Photography

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

In a fortunate coincidence, we started reprocessing our books on Olympic equestrian events this week — right in the middle of the Rio Olympics. Something we found tipped in one of the books was called Ryttar-Olympiaden: Stockholm 1956. This off-print is a sampler ad for a 270-page commemorative book on the equestrian games of the XVIth Olympiad. Some great photos are included, and we wanted to share some memories to compare as we watch Olympic competition 60 years later.

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Lis Hartel, Denmark, Silver, Henri St. Cyr, Sweden, Gold, and Liselott Lisenhoff, Germany, Bronze, Individual Winners of the Grand Prix de Dressage, riding their honorary turn around the Stadium.
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Hans Gunter Winkler, Germany, Gold Medal Individual of the Olympic Grand Prix Jumping Competition, made and extraordinary fine effort. Despite a serious muscle-rupture, incurred during the first round, and suffering from severe pains, Winkler rode his horse Halla through the second round without any fault.
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Queen Elizabeth at the moment when her horse Countryman III is passing the obstacle. To the left of the Queen, Princess Margaret, the Duchess of Gloucester, and the Princess Sibylla of Sweden.
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Some onlookers at obstacle No. 8-9: to the left the Grand Duke of Luxemburg, Lady Mountbatted, in the middle King Gustaf Adolf and Queen Louise, and then the long file of Swedish Princesses: Sibylla, and her four daughters, Christina, Desiree, Birgitta, and Margheretha. In front of them her only son, Carl Gustaf, the Crown Prince of Sweden.
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A. P. M. Bouchet, France, and his horse Ferney have a fall at the eight obstacle, but finish the cross-country phase.

The Olympics never seem to lack drama! From royal guests, to falls, injuries, and successes, the 1956 Stockholm Olympics seem to have had a fair share of heroics. It’s always great to get a look back at some of these moments past, even while new memories are being made.


Wedding Photography by Spiering Photography

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

Today’s highlight is a review (though more a tribute than a formal review) Edith Somerville (1858-1949) wrote of two of Gordon Grand’s books: The Silver Horn and Colonel Weatherford and His Friends. Grand wrote the stories while recovering from a hunting accident.

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Appreciation for Gordon Grand, Edith Somerville. National Sporting Library & Museum, John H. Daniels collection, housed in the F. Ambrose Clark Rare Book Room.

Somerville was a popular sporting author and illustrator, writing with her cousin, Violet Martin (who worked under the pen-name “Martin Ross”). Somerville was well-traveled and had a good education; riding, especially to hounds, was foremost among her interests and is often a theme in her writing.

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“I am reminded of a tale of an intelligent little girl, who was, for the first time, taken to a meet. She regarded the pack gravely, and remarked, ‘What a lot of dogs!’ She was corrected. ‘Those are HOUNDS, darling!’ She again studied the pack, and then said, controversially, ‘Well, they’re very LIKE dogs.'”

This is one of several pieces in the NSLM collection of manuscript writing by Somerville, who was a Master of Foxhounds for the West Carbery Foxhounds in the early years of the 20th Century. Having traveled in Europe and the United States, she had a very keen interest in the hunting in England, Ireland, and the United States.

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“The close kinship of England and the United States could not be more vividly demonstrated than it is by the tales in these books.”

Grand, a successful New York businessman who rode with the Millbrook Hunt, was widely praised for his literary accomplishments. Somerville’s autographed essay is a reflective commentary on Grand’s place in the pantheon of sporting authors. She places him in rarefied air, among Whyte-Melville and Surtees.

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Insertion. “[Whyte Melville] ‘dates’ too definitely. So, obviously, does Surtees, but Whyte Melville’s books are deficient in the very robust humour that has preserved Mr. Jorrocks, and has endeared him to so many generations of ingenuous readers.”
Despite how close-knit the sporting world is, it’s a bit unusual to find so direct a tribute of one sporting writer from another. Have you read Gordon Grand’s stories? Drop by the Library sometime to peruse them in our cozy reading alcoves!


Wedding Photography by Spiering Photography

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

This is the third in a series of four guest posts by 2016 Daniels Fellow Martha Wolfe. Martha’s 2016 Fellowship focused on studying The Life of an American Sportsman: Being Reminiscences by Harry Worcerster Smith, an unpublished autobiography. 

I’m not sure that many people would have characterized Harry Worcester Smith as a good-for-nothing “cad;” on the other hand, neither might they have called him a gentleman. He was highly opinionated and he had a temper; he had a wicked sense of humor and he suffered no fool. He was a scalawag, a bit of a braggart, maybe a knave, possibly a scoundrel. It’s perhaps divine providence or poetic justice that his favorite horse, his horse-of-a-lifetime, was named “The Cad.”

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Harry Worcester Smith at his writing desk. Possibly in Aiken, SC or Grafton, MA.

The Cad’s given name was The Cid, “but on account of a misspelling in the Stud book entry,” Harry writes in the “Steeplechasing” chapter of his unpublished autobiography, “the gamest thoroughbred I ever threw a leg over went through life carrying the name which means good-for-nothing.” The Cad’s breeding certainly wasn’t good-for-nothing. His equine ancestors included shining stars in America’s Thoroughbred foundation stock: his sire, Uncas, was descended from Lexington, Glencoe, and Tranby. His dam, Parasol, was descended from Mortimer, Virginia, and Nottingham. The extraordinary Tranby is the horse that carried Squire Osbaldeston in early November, 1831, in his outrageous wager to complete a two-hundred mile ride around England’s Newmarket race course in under ten hours. Osbaldeston was allowed an unlimited number of horses to do the job: he brought twenty. Changing mounts fifty times during the Squire’s race against the clock, Tranby was the only horse to complete four of the four-mile laps at racing speed. It’s clear that The Cad’s ancestors had “staying power.”

“The Cad was very high-mettled,” Harry writes of his favorite’s temperament. “When they were trying to break him at the track to start from the barrier, like a gentleman he resisted the whip in the jockey’s hands, the spur on his heels and the bull-whip with which the assistant starter cut him, and it did not take more than two or three mornings for him to get so bad that they decided that they could do nothing with him; so he was shipped back to Genesee and stabled with ‘Jim Sam’s’ string down near the horse show grounds.” Jim Sam was a Wadsworth, of the well-known hunting family in upstate New York’s Genesee Valley where Harry hunted regularly behind Colonel Wadsworth’s hounds. Here, in the broadly gorged valley, is where Harry first laid eyes on The Cad.

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The Cad

“He was perfectly balanced, with an intelligent head and eyes that spoke and followed you as he looked through the upper door as you walked around…I was so taken with him that when at the end of the hunting season I had a chance to buy him at $150 I jumped at the opportunity.”

Along with his trusted trainer Dolph Wheeler, Harry rode and trained his own string of steeplechasers: “King T.,” “Sacket,” “George Keene” and “The Cad.” “Living in snowy, frost-bound New England,” he writes, “there was only now and then a day through the winter when one could school his hunters or steeplechasers over the walls about Grafton…Many is the day I would push through business, telephone to Wheeler and, if the going was soft, out we’d go no matter how deep the snow was, and so my horses got their schooling.”

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“Upon the turf and beneath the turf all men are equal.” This drawing is found in a sample collection of illustrations for Smith’s unpublished autobiography. Smith’s lavender and white silks are depicted in the center.

Harry had his eye on the Championship Meadow Brook Cup Hunter’s race at Brookline in the spring of 1900. His confidence got a big boost while training over the course’s water jump. The Cad was four strides out when his hoof beats startled two workmen who had been cementing the basin on the far side of the jump. The men stood, “and as the jump was quite shallow they were fully three feet higher than the hedge itself, but this was nothing to The Cad. He stood off, cleared the hedge, sailed over the top of one man and landed way into the grass far beyond the edge of the cement.” Later, Harry went back with a measuring tape and found that The Cad had cleared twenty-eight feet.

The race itself started well, but ended badly for Harry. At the fourth hedge The Cad “took the bit in his teeth and literally tore at the next jump. I knew he was going too fast but there was no chance to take a pull and in a second he was too close to the jump and so caught it under his knees,” resulting in a bad fall.

Harry hovered “between life and death” for nearly a week. “The concussion was so bad,” he writes, “that [a few months later] a spot two or three inches square” on the crown of his head turned white. “In addition, on both sides, the tops of my back teeth were cracked off.” His convalescence was long and shook his confidence, but The Cad was uninjured and Wheeler kept him fit through the summer and fall. The upside of his accident was that Boston’s provocative socialite Isabella Stewart Gardner “sent me flowers every day.”

That August Harry entered the Hunter’s Steeplechase at Saratoga. Through no fault of The Cad’s or Harry’s, he fell again and the horse’s reputation grew rank.


Martha_webMartha Wolfe is an independent scholar, author, and three-time John H. Daniels Fellow at the National Sporting Library & Museum. Her most recent book is The Great Hound Match of 1905, chronicling the hunting competition between A. Henry Higginson and Harry Worcester Smith. Read more about Martha and her research at www.marthawolfe.net.

This is the second in a series of four guest posts by 2016 Daniels Fellow Martha Wolfe. Martha’s 2016 Fellowship focused on studying The Life of an American Sportsman: Being Reminiscences by Harry Worcerster Smith, an unpublished autobiography. Many fascinating things came out of NSLM’s extensive archive collection of Smith’s papers, including today’s highlight, The Grafton Long Jump.

Harry Worcester Smith was an inventor. He held dozens of patents associated with the cotton weaving industry where he worked as a mill owner and patent expert until he retired in his forties to foxhunt and live the life of a sportsman. But his retirement from industry didn’t mean that he retired his brain from invention. Take, for instance, “The Grafton Long Jump.”

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“Grafton Long Jump,” a pamphlet in the Harry Worcester Smith Archive Collection (MC0041), National Sporting Library & Museum.

“For many years at Lordvale,” he writes, referring to his country estate in Grafton, Massachusetts, just outside Worcester, “I had been trying to work out a method to teach my steeplechasers and hunters to jump over a distance of ground so that when they met a ditch, brook or water jump, they would cover it.”

Well, anyone who has approached a ditch or a brook or a strange (to a young horse) looking gap in the ground can understand Harry’s inclination toward a better training method.  “A shallow water jump proved useless as they [his horses] soon paid no attention to it; a deep one was difficult to arrange and dangerous, and an open ditch of depth enough to be of service proved still more dangerous.”

Enter the common cardboard box.

“The boxes being white, when the horses are first shown them over the other side of the hedge they take good notice, and when they are put at them they invariably jump cleanly out to 10 or 12 feet.” If your horse happens to be “badly ridden or not taking off just right,” not to worry, he will land amidst the harmless boxes, “which scares them as much as jumping into a melon frame, as the expression of their faces clearly shows, and their wild desire to rid themselves of the boxes, which often times hang about their legs for a few yards.”

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Harry Worcester Smith demonstrating his “Grafton Long Jump,” training method.

It’s easy to picture a horse with a couple of white cardboard boxes up around his fetlocks, trying to get free of the horrible things; the boxes would soon be shredded and come off safely.  “In using the long jump [training method] for five years,” Harry assures his readers, “no hunter has ever been hurt.”

Harry had such great success with his long-jump invention that he published a white paper and sent it to his sporting friends “around the world, believing that perhaps it will be a benefit not only to many who wish to train their horses to jump a distance but also as a clean-cut sporting contest at Exhibitions and Hippiques.”

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Crompton Smith Sr., father of the famous jockey, “Tommy” Smith, jumps Nattie Bumppo over cardboard boxes to demonstrate the long jump.

Never satisfied with simplicity, Harry took his show on the road. June, 1914, in front of twenty thousand people at the Fall River Horse Show, “we had a cracking Long Jump contest” with Peter Roche winning, jumping twenty-four feet. At the Barre [MA] fair in 1912, Harry and friends took his “crack” hunters Success, Sir Ritchie and The Cad over the same span three abreast. (Ok, that’s about as long as my living room!)

Of course this is no big deal for you eventers and show jumpers out there. It’s the method in the madness that piqued Harry’s imagination and made his Grafton Long Jump a good bet “For the Sake of Sport in America.”


Martha_webMartha Wolfe is an independent scholar, author, and three-time John H. Daniels Fellow at the National Sporting Library & Museum. Her most recent book is The Great Hound Match of 1905, chronicling the hunting competition between A. Henry Higginson and Harry Worcester Smith. Read more about Martha and her research at www.marthawolfe.net.