The permanent collection at the National Sporting Library & Museum has over 1,300 objects, including paintings, sculptures, works on paper, weathervanes, and dog collars. That’s right, dog collars.

Fifteen years ago, Dr. and Mrs. Tim Greenan began collecting dog collars, eventually amassing 187 of them. In 2014, they donated their entire collection to the NSLM, making the museum one of the largest (if not the largest) repositories in the world for these niche objects.

Dr. Greenan and the Curatorial department are developing an exhibition for 2022 that will display the objects alongside works of art that feature similar collars. The show will also highlight the relationship between dogs and humans and how that relationship has evolved throughout the centuries.

It’s hard to remember a time when dogs have not been Man’s Best Friend snuggling up on our laps and eagerly awaiting our return. Initially, they were trained for war, hunting, working, fighting, and scouting. The one shown below dates from the 18th century and is firmly utilitarian.  The spikes repelled attackers and protected the canine.

Dog Collar, 18th century, British, metal,
7 inches diameter x 1 inches wide

The brass one below would have been used for bear baiting or boar hunting. It is important to remember to not look at such collars through 21st-century eyes, but rather keep it in context of the 18th century. While we view it as cruel, bear baiting was considered a regular sport for all societal classes at the time. This collar is inscribed “WILLIAM ECKLES ISLAND HILL 1792.” The sharp sawtooth edges would have protected the neck of the dog wearing it.

Dog collar, 1792, British, brass,
6 inches diameter x 2 1/2 inches wide

The large horsehair collar below (and my favorite!) is from the 18th century, possibly from Goa, India. It is decorated with orange agate cabochons and is almost 12 inches in diameter. You can imagine that this is also quite heavy and would probably have been worn by a mastiff.

Dog collar, 18th century, possibly Goa, India, horsehair leather with agate cabochons and brass mounts with ring attachment
11 3/4 inches diameter x 2 7/8 inches height x 3 1/2 inches wide

As dogs were domesticated, they also served as a status symbol: the breed, pedigree, and, of course, the collar. Tiffany & Co., known for their wonderful and highly sought-after jewelry, also produced many everyday objects, including the below silver dog collar from 1831-1832. It is inscribed with the owner’s name, “GEO. H. INGERSOLL ./ NEW YORK.,” is adjustable, and came to the collection with the owner’s choice for a lock. It was not uncommon for dogs to be stolen, their identification to be removed, and then be resold on the street as dogs in need of a home. The lock served to discourage would-be thieves.

Dog collar, 1831-1832, American, silver,
4 1/4 inches diameter x 3 /4 inches wide

The inscriptions could sometimes be whimsical and silly.  The one below is from the 1920s or 1930s and reads, “I’M / H.O. SWINFORD’S DOG / WHOSE DOG / ARE YOU?”

Dog collar, 1920s or 1930s, American, leather, 4 inches diameter x
1 3/4 inches wide

The image below shows an Italian collar from the 1940s with distinctly Roman motifs. One crest has an image of Romulus, the founder of Rome, and his twin brother, Remus. The other crest shows the she-wolf that nursed the twins after they were abandoned. Incredibly appropriate motifs to adorn such an object!

Dog collar, 1940s, Italian, leather,
5 1/2 inches diameter x 1 3/4 inches wide

Stay tuned as we continue to learn about these everyday, yet fascinating, objects. We’ll be posting more teasers in preparation for the forthcoming 2022 exhibition.

Lauren Kraut is the Collections Manager at the National Sporting Library & Museum. Her primary focus is to maintain and preserve the works of art in the collection and on loan. Email her at lkraut@NationalSporting.org

To piggyback on intern Grace Pierce’s wonderful blog post a few weeks ago, I’d like to highlight a little more about Paul Brown. 

In 1986, his widow, Harriet, donated several works of art to the National Sporting Library, the predecessor of the NSLM. Within this generous artistic donation were personal papers, including almost one hundred decorated envelopes.  Though we don’t have the actual letters, the envelopes represent the courtship between the artist and his sweetheart, his future wife.

Both natives of Minnesota, Harriet went to school at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts while Paul’s family had moved to Garden City, New York.  They met after the Brown family had moved, his father staying in touch with friends back home.

The envelopes are sometimes addressed to “Harriet” but more often informally to her by her nickname “Sally,” sometimes spelled “Sallie” – the long letters allowing Paul to have fun, like in the instance below:

Collection of envelopes from Paul Brown to Harriet Smith Brown, National Sporting Library & Museum, NA2019.29.61

Many envelopes were decorated with images of stick figures, possibly enacting what Harriet was doing at school, for instance moving into Tyler House at Smith College:

Collection of envelopes from Paul Brown to Harriet Smith Brown, National Sporting Library & Museum, NA2019.29.37ab
Collection of envelopes from Paul Brown to Harriet Smith Brown, National Sporting Library & Museum, NA2019.29.44

Or cheering on Harvard against Yale:

Collection of envelopes from Paul Brown to Harriet Smith Brown, National Sporting Library & Museum, NA2019.29.81

Shortly before her graduation, Harriet’s mother passed away, forcing the young woman to return home to St Paul. Her family lived for some time in the St Paul Hotel, a luxury hotel, then and now. The envelope shown below uses an elegant font that would not be out of place at a sophisticated establishment, her initials turning into its own brand. The motif on the left side mirrors that of the bellhop’s uniform, very much in the same manner that hotels tend to do – stamping their design throughout.

Collection of envelopes from Paul Brown to Harriet Smith Brown, National Sporting Library & Museum, NA2019.29.24

The artist often incorporated the postage stamp into the scene, like in the bellhop above, and in more abstract designs, like the one below:

Collection of envelopes from Paul Brown to Harriet Smith Brown, National Sporting Library & Museum, NA2019.29.13

His sense of humor came through, like the envelope below, poking fun at his golfing skills:

Collection of envelopes from Paul Brown to Harriet Smith Brown, National Sporting Library & Museum, NA2019.29.32

One last memento to share: an envelope postmarked on October 17 and decorated with a “just married” banner, perhaps the last letter before their nuptials on November 12, 1923. A fitting end to such a sweet collection.  

Collection of envelopes from Paul Brown to Harriet Smith Brown, National Sporting Library & Museum, NA2019.29.78

Lauren Kraut is the Collections Manager at the National Sporting Library & Museum. Her primary focus is to maintain and preserve the works of art in the collection and on loan. Email her at lkraut@NationalSporting.org

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

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.

lonsdale
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.

 

plate-rich
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.

higginson
“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.

karow-web
“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.

karow-coth

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.

letter1

letter2

letter3

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.

olympics1
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.

sg1
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.

sg2
“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