Last week I showed you some images from “Howitt’s Animals,” a two-volume presentation set of etchings by Samuel Howitt (1765-1822). We did a brief article on these volumes in the Fall 2014 NSLM Newsletter, but I wanted to show off more of the images than we had space for in print. Without further ado, let’s get to the pretty pictures!

I find it very easy to see the influence of the country on Howitt. He often chooses images that would be passed over by the mere sportsman, such as a mother tending to her pups.
The stealthy approach? Maybe one of our readers who is more familiar with wing shooting and dogs can tell me more about what’s depicted here.
Howitt’s animals sometimes have very large eyes, which strikes my modern eye as cartoonish. The detail, however, is quite fine in the antlers.
I admit, this one makes me chuckle. If that horse on the right isn’t a parody of somebody that Howitt knew, I’ll eat my hat! Those horses are flat-out gossiping.
An impressive depiction of a hare. Whenever I show this volume, people like to stop on this page and look for a few minutes.
Growing up in the country, Howitt likely spent a good deal of time around cows. His trees always seem to twist and turn, too. Many of these images have excited branches stretching out into smaller branches close to the ground.
This is my favorite. These sheep really stand out to me. Maybe it’s the realistic detail in the horns, the ears, the eyes.
I love it! It merits a closer look.


NSLM welcomed Erin Livengood to our staff recently. Erin comes on board as NSLM’s new Educational Programs Manager & Fellowship Advisor. She will be working to grow the educational programming events and projects at NSLM, as well as providing liaison support for participants in the John H. Daniels Fellowship Program.

Erin received her Master’s degree in Social Science from the University of Chicago, focusing in museum studies and historic archaeology of the Southeastern United States. She holds a Bachelor’s degree with honors from the American University, where her honors thesis focused on historic archaeology in Virginia.

Before joining the National Sporting Library and Museum, Erin worked in artifact registration at the Oriental Institute in Chicago. Erin has experience in exhibitions, registration, and curation at the Oriental Institute, the Smithsonian Institution and the National Geographic Society, as well as at the University of Chicago and American University. Erin has varied archaeological field experience in Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, Washington, D.C., Chicago and Louisiana.

A native of Cumberland, Maryland, Erin now lives in Winchester, Virginia with her fiancé, Will Carosella. They both enjoy yoga, tour cycling, hiking, gardening, and visiting the many vineyards in northern Virginia.

Today’s item is a relatively recent addition to our collection. Purchased in early 2014, these are presentation copies of etchings labeled “Howitt’s Animals.” They are stored in the F. Ambrose Clark Rare Book Room. Samuel Howitt (1765-1822) was a prolific artist known for his watercolors, etchings and illustrations. Prone to drinking and gambling, he was obliged to take up art after the loss of his family fortune. We did a brief write-up about the books in last Fall’s NSLM Newsletter, but we could only show one image and these are too good not to share! There are so many I picked out, that I’ll detail them in a special two-part post.

These volumes are presentation copies -- special copies the author or artist inscribes to friends or family. These are inscribed to William Edkins.
These volumes are presentation copies — special copies the author or artist inscribes to friends or family. These are inscribed to William Edkins: “The gift of Samuel Howitt who etched these to his friend William Edkins.”
Howitt was raised in the country, and his affection for sport and nature made his art quite faithful to the realities of life in the wild.
Howitt was raised in the country, and his affection for sport and nature made his art quite faithful to the realities of life in the wild.
Howitt is noted for his tremendous output, mainly as an illustrator.
Howitt is noted for his tremendous output, mainly as an illustrator.
Howitt produced illustrations for The Sporting Magazine in 1793, and eventually contributed over 150 plates covering a wide variety of sporting subjects.
Several pages on these volumes contain foxing, which usually occurs in machine-made paper of the late 18th and the 19th Centuries. Foxing is not entirely understood, but appears to arise from fungal contamination in the paper.
Howitt produced during a time when animal art and sporting art were not clearly delineated. I’m of the opinion that some of his best work would be considered animal art instead of sporting art.
I’m quite convinced that Howitt’s strength was birds. He does a beautiful job of portraying fowl. He has, however, been criticized for shying away from providing landscapes in the backgrounds of his work, presumably because this was an artistic weakness.
These proofs were specially selected by Howitt as a gift for Edkins. The two volumes appear to be unique.
Howitt is also known for illustrating books, and he provided watercolor illustrations for Orme’s British Field Sports, a highly-regarded color plate book.

More to come next week in Part 2!

A short one today! Izaak Walton (1594 – 1683) is best known for writing the influential The Compleat Angler, a guide to the culture and spirit of fly fishing that grew and expanded over the course of Walton’s life. It’s considered a major classic in the fly fishing world, and NSLM is lucky enough to possess a wonderful collection of early editions of The Compleat Angler in the John H. Daniels Collection.

Don't let the size fool you!
Don’t let the size fool you!

This book face measures 5 3/4″ tall by 3 3/8″ wide. This size is called duodecimo, the Italian for twelfth, because it’s one twelfth the size of a full folio. This size is often abbreviated 12mo. If you’ve ever seen that abbreviation around, now you know what it means. Use your new-found knowledge to impress your friends and family!

I believe that to be a Latin inscription on the left page. The “long” or “medial” s is seen there, too. That’s the “s” that looks similar to a modern “f.”

You’re learning all kinds of things today!

“And now the blessing of St. Peters Master be with mine. And the like be upon my benefit ingenuous Scholer, and upon all that love Vertue, and to be quiet, and go a fishing.”

Another recent addition to the NSLM trophy collection, which is sure to be a favorite, is the Maryland Hunt Cup trophy,  won by Mr. T. B. Blakiston in 1912, on board the horse Conby.

Maryland Hunt Cup, April 20th, 1912, sterling silver, 15 x 7 ½ inches, Gift of Thomas B. Blakiston, Jr., 2014

The Maryland Hunt Cup, one of the most challenging steeplechase races in the world, was first run in 1894. The four-mile race with twenty-two fences has been run at Worthington Valley (northwest of Baltimore) since 1922.

Engraving on the top of the tankard – “Established 1894” (in Roman numerals)

I wonder if Mr. Blakiston celebrated his win by taking a big drink of champagne from his new tankard trophy? He certainly would have deserved it! The fences in this timber race are up to 4 ft 10 inches high. Yikes.

1921 Maryland Hunt Cup advertisement
1921 Maryland Hunt Cup advertisement

This little piece of Hunt Cup ephemera from the NSLM holdings advertises the 1921 race. The fences still look pretty much the same – solid wood, post and rail. The early courses also included deep ditches, creeks and railroad tracks, but those were removed from the course after 1922 (Phew!).

Nicole Stribling
Curator of Permanent Collections