We love our books, but sometimes things can go wrong. A sad reality about books is that they have limited strength. Spines crack, hinges weaken, leather and paper deteriorate. Here in the Library, we collect for use by our researchers. And each time a book is opened, it breaks down a little more. When we opened a box last year and found a bevy of distressed tomes, we knew we had to act.

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Can you believe how spineless some books are?

With the help of our members, we raised the funds to take the first set of broken books to the book doctor. I had a chance to visit Nancy Delaney of Delaney Book Restorations and look in on the progress of the restoration work.

The workshop. Nancy has restored antiquarian books by hand for years.
The workshop. Nancy has restored antiquarian books by hand for years.

 

The Lady's Equestrian Guide. This book is getting a complete re-binding, as the old cloth binding fell off entirely.
The Lady’s Equestrian Guide. This book is getting a complete re-binding, as the old cloth binding fell off entirely.

 

Our adopted books are currently being re-stitched, providing strength and stability before new covers are added.
Our adopted books are currently being re-stitched, providing strength and stability before new covers are added.

 

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Even the spineless can find redemption with a little help! A cloth liner is being added to restore the hinges before a new leather spine is added.

 

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It’s not enough to add new leather. The strengthening extends into the boards to extend the life of the book.

 

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“The Poetical Works of Thomas Campbell,” a fore-edge book, is getting new leather today.

 

First, the replacement leather is cut.
First, the replacement leather is cut.

 

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And then it’s fitted to the book. Before the leather is attached, it will go through skiving to thin and trim the thickness of the leather.

 

The skiving process is necessary with leather to hide everything beneath the outer layer: leather show everything, and we don’t want the new spine to have bumps, creases or ripples.

We’re thrilled with the restoration work, and look forward to getting images of the fully restored volumes. And keep an eye out for our next round of book adoption opportunities this November!


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 world dominated by word processors and digital publication, the treasures of the past can be uncovered in handwritten materials. The NSLM collections have many handwritten manuscripts in the F. Ambrose Clark Rare Book Room. We do our best to ensure these materials get some regular appreciation, so here is a list of five great handwritten pieces in the NSLM collection.

5. Robert Burns, The Bonie Moorhen

This poem by Robert Burns (1759-1796) was never published during the poet’s lifetime. The poem details the difficulty of tracking the “moorhen” (grouse), but in reality it’s a romantic ode to Nancy McLehose, who exchanged letters with Burns in the 1780s. McLehose was married, but estranged from her husband, and she urged Burns not to publish a poem that would surely cause social scandal for everybody involved.

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The Bonie Moorhen, Robert Burns, 1788. National Sporting Library & Museum, John H. Daniels Collection, F. Ambrose Clark Rare Book Room.

4. R. S. Surtees, Account Book

One of the most prolific and classic sporting authors, R. S. Surtees (1805-1864) helped pioneer the sporting novel while creating comedic characters that have stood the test of time. This pocket-sized cash book was printed in 1853 and belonged to Surtees. It details both his daily expenditures and serves as a brief diary outlining weather or activities of the day.

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Account Book, R. S. Surtees, 1853. National Sporting Library & Museum, John H. Daniels Collection, F. Ambrose Clark Rare Book Room.

 

3. Samuel Howitt, Presentation Inscription

Samuel Howitt (1756-1822) was a prolific engraver of animals and sporting subjects during his lifetime. Financially independent as a young man, he devoted his time to riding and field sports before financial difficulties forced him into trade as an artist. His time on horseback served him well — much of his work draws upon his country experiences to depict shooting and equestrian scenes. The two volumes of etchings in the NSLM collection were presentation copies, and include a brief dedication by Howitt to the recipient, William Edkins.

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Presentation Inscription, Samuel Howitt, 1811. National Sporting Library & Museum, F. Ambrose Clark Rare Book Room.

 

2. George Osbaldeston, Trotting Letter

“Squire” George Osbaldeston (1786-1866) was the prototype of the early sporting gentleman: rash, dashing, and eminently capable in the saddle and with a gun. Osbaldeston wagered thousands of pounds on his abilities, winning huge bets through his ability to ride for speed or endurance. Unfortunately, much of this money went to outrageous gambling debts that eventually forced him to sell his lands and die penniless. This letter is directed to Osbaldeston’s friend, Harry England, asking his opinion about two trotting matches to be races against time. The races would cover 31 miles in two hours, the other could cover 30 miles in two hours.

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Trotting Letter, George Osbaldeston, 1831. National Sporting Library & Museum, John H. Daniels Collection, F. Ambrose Clark Rare Book Room.

 

1. Theodore Roosevelt, Riding to Hounds on Long Island

Anybody who has been on our Library tour at NSLM has seen this piece. We’re very happy that John Daniels donated it to NSLM in 1999. The manuscript is an editorial piece for the Century Illustrated Magazine, and Roosevelt (1858-1919) wrote about the culture of foxhunting, and how Americans practice it. It’s the only manuscript in our collection from a U. S. President. The manuscript includes corrections and is signed on the final page.

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Riding to Hounds on Long Island, Theodore Roosevelt, 1886. National Sporting Library & Museum, John H. Daniels Collection, F. Ambrose Clark Rare Book Room.

It was difficult to pick just five, so we’ll have to highlight more in the coming weeks! Our blog is beginning a new Tuesday posting schedule for 2017. You can subscribe to the blog by clicking on the “Follow” button on our sidebar. We hope you’ll come back to read more about our collections (handwritten or printed) this year!


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

I find it hard to indefinitely ignore the things that catch my eye. Passing a shelf and seeing something day after day compels me to take a look, sooner or later. A pleasant-looking blue cloth binding had been beckoning to me from the F. Ambrose Clark Rare Book Room for some weeks. Looking for something to blog about, I fished it out: A Leicestershire Sketch Book by Lionel Edwards.

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“A red ribbon in the tail denotes a kicker. Judging by the proportion of horses one sees so adorned, when one is going through a crowded gate, it is marvellous we come through alive.”

I’m a huge fan of Edwards’ work. He was a noteworthy sporting illustrator of the early 20th Century, and many of his sporting travels were memorialized in sketches compiled into published volumes.

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“All the same a voluntary is usually quite involuntary on our part. That depicted took place owing to my deciding to jump the fence, and the horse deciding to go through the gate. ‘In medio,’ etc. is not always a sound proverb!

Leicestershire is at the very heart of the English tradition of foxhunting. Reputedly the home to the first pack of foxhunting hounds. Edwards brings humor, realism, and thoughtful analysis to his sketch book.

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“The day after hunting I went back to sketch what I took to be the remains of [Thomas Boothby’s] kennels and yards, but there seems to be considerable doubt if what is left was not originally the walls of his kitchen garden, not the kennels.”
In sporting art, depictions of people, landscapes, and animals meet and combine. Edwards excels at sketch work that is both sharp and picturesque. My librarian side also appreciates that his art serves the communication of his own story.

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The Fernie Hunt. “[T]aken from the hillside below Carlton clump — in the distance Tur Langton Church.”
I’m glad I took the time to open this one! There are plenty more like it that I hope to browse soon.


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

Do you keep a journal? If you care about being remembered to history, you probably should. Today’s highlight is an excellent example of how to make history: the 1826-1842 Case Book of veterinary surgeon Charles Clark.

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The first entry of Charles Clark. Clark was a veterinary surgeon in Giltspur Street, London. His first patient was a gray horse “whose feet have been reduced to a deplorable state by the joint affects of contraction and the knives of the smith.”

Clark was the nephew and pupil of Bracy Clark, one of the first graduates of the veterinary college in London who was known for his research on horse feet. Because of Clark’s careful record-keeping, we can study his first-hand accounts of his treatments and results, sometimes in consultation with his uncle.

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“Uncle Bracy determined to day (Dec 26) to keep the foot distended by mechanical means that the frogs might have liberty to expand themselves.”

You can record lasting history, too. The best bet would be to write on sturdy paper with dark ink, and keep your journal in good condition. Nobody is really sure yet how viable the digital record will be in the long term. Keeping a paper journal might preserve your name for centuries. It worked for Charles Clark, 190 years ago!


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  Drawing Covert turns one hundred! This is post number one hundred, and we’ve been posting about events, books, art, and history for 21 months. To commemorate our accomplishment of a round number, I figured we could highlight a sketch book from the F. Ambrose Clark Rare Book Room, called One Hundred Original Sketches.

The sketches are by George Algernon Fothergill (1868-1945), a British doctor-turned-artist who took a break from sporting art to serve as Medical Officer to the 1st Cavalry Brigade during World War I.

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First pencil studies for portrait of “Factor,” 1913.

The sketches in the book are mostly in pencil, and served as studies for later works. Each sketch is dated by the artist.

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Left, center: “Buttercup,” by “The Baron,” winner of the House of Commons Point-to-Point, 1908, taken from snapshots. Right: “An actual face!!” 1913 sketch.

Fothergill worked from the early 1900s to 1945, during a renaissance period for British sporting culture. He enjoyed the patronage of the King of England, the German Emperor, the Duke of Leeds, the Marquess of Zetland, and the Earl of Lonsdale.

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Book plate for William Hall, Baron Wavertree.

Fothergill was educated at Uppingham and Edinburgh University and theRoyal College of Surgeons. He was a lecturer at Edinburgh University before serving as resident clinical assistant at a mental ward. In 1906, over 1,000 of his works had been published, mainly in sporting magazines, and gave up medicine to focus on art and archaeology.

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Left: “Waiting for the hounds, 1912” Right: “Brood Mares and Foal, 1913.” Both sketches labeled “sketched from our front garden.”

We’d like to thank our readers who have joined us for our first hundred glances into the collections and programs at NSLM. We’re excited for our next hundred, and hope you are as well. Going to be in our area in the coming months? Make sure to plan your visit so you can see some of our treasured objects or temporary loan exhibitions!


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 preparation for a new school program debuting this fall, I have had the opportunity to get to know two fascinating sources from the F. Ambrose Clark Rare Book Room. Markham’s Masterpiece (1656), and Citizen and Countryman’s Experienced Farrier (1764). Both contain 17th and 18th century medical treatments for horses at a time when horses were necessary for farming, trading, traveling, and going to war.

Markham’s Masterpiece was published in London in 1610, a time during which England was just beginning to emerge from centuries of medieval feudalism and the supreme monarchy of the Tudors and to a lesser extent, the Stuarts. This copy is the eighth edition, printed in 1656. Playwrights, musicians, and authors often depended on wealthy superiors to finance their publications and performances. Gervaise Markham (c. 1568 – 1637), author of Markham’s Masterpiece, likely depended on the patronage of Sir Robert Dormer to publish the volume. He introduces the book with a long, flowery letter dedicating his work to Dormer, making it clear the social difference between them. He also lists a ‘who’s who’ of great minds that the book’s contents are pulled from, including ancient greats like Xenophon and contemporary medical minds such as Camerarius.

Markham dedicates the book to his patrom, Sir Robert Dormer and also insists "what I am, Art, Soule and affectionis onely Yours; and desire to be so esteemed in all my actions". He signs the dedication "Your Honours humble devoted servant, Gervase Markham".

Markham dedicates the book to his noble patron, Sir Robert Dormer, and also insists

“This Booke is but the externall pledge which doth demonstrate the inward obligation of my heart, since what I am, Art, Soule and affection is onely Yours; and desire to be so esteemed in all my actions”.

He signs the dedication “Your Honours humble devoted servant, Gervase Markham”.

One hundred and eight years later in 1764 a new edition, Citizen and Countryman’s Experienced Farrier, was published in the now thriving American colonies. While the treatments for equine ailments remain almost the same, the introduction and forwarding information are markedly different. The first thing I noticed is that they attribute the book to “ J. Markham, G. Jefferies, and Discreet Indians”. Britain and France had just ended a North American turf war, known as the French and Indian War, in which Native Americans played an important part. It’s likely that British colonial troops picked up some medical and veterinary treatments from their native allies, which then made their way into Experienced Farrier.

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Not only that, but instead of depending on a Lord’s endorsement or the famous names of horse experts living and dead, Experienced Farrier leans on the opinions of four local men of principle. These gentlemen met in Kennet Township, Pennsylvania and unanimously declared the book to be “of great Service to the Publick in general”- meaning the every day colonial horse owner. The introduction also asserts that the medical treatments within are prescribed out of  . .”a sincere opinion to truth and justice”.

Many scholars agree that heady Enlightenment ideals of justice and the value of common man emerged after the French and Indian War when colonists were beset with unfair taxes and increasing pressure from the English Crown. I was surprised to find how pervasive these attitudes were so early on. Certainly this was not meant to be a rebellious book, yet we see even the title, Citizen and Countryman’s Experienced Farrier, hints towards an understanding that colonists were worthy of education, representation, and respect. It also incorporates remedies and ingredients that are specific to the Western hemisphere, demonstrating that these colonists as not only valuable people, but valuable people who are uniquely American. The American spirit was steadily growing, manifesting itself only 12 years later in the Declaration of Independence.


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Anne Marie Barnes is the Educational Programs Manager and Fellowship Advisor at the National Sporting Library & Museum (NSLM). Her passion for museum work began shortly after graduation with a Bachelor’s degree in History from James Madison University. Between her expeience working at the Fredericksburg Area Museum & Cultural Center and the Washington Heritage Museums, she has done everything from designing summer camps to formulating major fundraisers. Have a question? Contact Anne Marie by e-mail

Walking through the rare book room recently a title jumped out at me.  Boldly printed in gold on a dark blue spine was the title, Dog Prints.  Being a big fan of dogs and actually preferring to see people’s dog photos, I pulled the book off the shelf to take a look.  It is a collection of 89 engravings of dogs dated from 1792 to 1835.  Nearly all of the engravings are portraits depicting individual named dogs.  About half are accompanied by brief comments outlining the pictured dog’s lineage, accomplishments, ownership, or sharing an interesting anecdote about the dog.  Breeds pictured include greyhounds, harriers, pointers, foxhounds, spaniels, terriers, setters, beagles, bulldogs, staghounds, and deerhounds.

Here are three that I especially enjoyed.

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“Pincher is the property of Mr. Cooper, the painter, for whom his attachment was extraordinary; he frequently gave him away, but to whatever distance he was taken, he speedily returned: at length his master met with an accident which proved fatal to him, and his body falling into the hands of strangers, no one could force the affectionate animal from him, until his son made his appearance, and many were bitten in attempting to remove him, not knowing it was his dog.   S.M. Nov. 1811”

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“Drake, a water-spaniel, the property of Lord Charles Kerr.  In the month of August 1813, Lord Charles made a match with J. Cock, Esq. Jun., to play a game of Cricket, His Lordship backing his servant James Bridger and his dog Drake, against Mr. Cock with Wm. Witherell.  The match which was for 50 guineas per side, was played at Hold Pound Cricketing Ground, near Farnham, Surry, on Monday, August 16th, 1813.  The post assigned to Drake was that of catching the ball, the only way in which he could be serviceable, but, as he always caught it at the first bound, he was perhaps a more expert and efficient partner than many Bipeds.    S.M. August 1814”

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“The canine landing net.  The late Mr. S. Burnes of Tooley Street, Southwark, well known as an excellent shot, was likewise one of the best fly-fishers in the kingdom.  He had a pointer dog, called Old York, who frequently was his most orderly companion in that sport, and if a very heavy fish had entangled itself in the weeds, or the bank was particularly unfavourable, Old York would go in, and taking the fish behind the head, bring it out to his master, unbruised, and generally without breaking the tackle.    S.M. May 1819”

The book itself is a bit of a mystery.  There’s no publication information in it.  No compiler or date of creation is listed.  Looking more closely at the engravings I noted that they were all published by either, J. Wheble, J. Wheble & J. Pittman, or J. Pittman, all of Warwick Square, London.  The commentary that accompanies many of the engravings is credited to S.M. and dated with a month and year, and one or two of these comments mention “this magazine.”  A quick internet search turned up the book A Dictionary of Printers and Printing by C.H. Timperley which had a brief biography of John Wheble who published the magazine Sporting Magazine.  Luckily NSLM has this magazine in our Main Reading Room, and I was able to confirm that the material in Dog Prints is indeed from that publication.

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At this point however, I’m at a dead end.  I would guess that Dog Prints was compiled and privately printed by an individual.  It has certainly been customized by an individual as the engravings are numbered by hand and it has a handwritten index.  There is also a clipping from a newspaper or magazine pasted into the book next to the index.  It is a letter from a Mr. Grantley Berkeley to the Committee of the Society for the Suppression of Cruelty to Animals.  Although no publication information is visible on the article, there is an ad with the date June 1839 on its reverse.

Beyond these bits of information one may only speculate on the origin of this book.  Regardless of its origins, Dog Prints is a lovely collection of engravings well worth looking at.  I would encourage readers to come to the library and peruse our copies of Sporting Magazine available in the reading alcoves in our Main Reading Room.  This periodical contains all the engravings in Dog Prints as well as numerous others featuring a variety of sporting subjects.  Dog Prints itself is housed in the F. Ambrose Clark Rare Book Room.


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Erica Libhart has served as the Mars 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