Books serve to preserve and transmit information both geographically and temporally but almost from the very beginning they have often also been objects d’art.  From the earliest illuminated manuscripts to today’s deluxe editions, scribes, printers, and bookbinders have enhanced the value of manuscripts and books by adding elaborate decoration to the information contained within them.

Manuscripts have decorative illuminations that range from simple enhanced capitals or rubrics, to intricate and colorful capitals, borders, and full illustrations.

A page from the Book of Kells (c. 800 AD) showing illuminated capitals. From Wikimedia Commons.

Decorations have been applied to every surface and aspect of the book. The endpapers have been colored, marbled, bordered with gilt tooling, and featured pictorial decorations. Special paperstock, color plates, and original illustrations often appear in modern limited editions. Some books have elaborate book clasps, slipcases, or clam shell boxes. The edges of the page block have been gilded, colored, marbled, and even enhanced with full paintings known as fore-edge paintings.

Fore-edge painting of a polo scene on Poetical Works of Sir Walter Scott (1873). The gift of John H. and Martha Daniels.

The outside of the book has also been used for decoration.  Vellum, leather and cloth covers have been produced in many different colors. Sometimes covers feature designs made with inlaid elements, gilt tooling, or embossing.  Gilt lettering appears on the boards as well as the spine, as do pictorial decorations. To get a closer look at a wide variety of book bindings I highly recommend visiting the Folger Shakespeare Library’s special digital collection of bindings here.

The Library’s collection contains many examples of decorative bindings. Recently I was working with our rare books on dogs and hounds for another project and noticed a profusion of decorative covers that I’d like to share.  

Some of the designs, although detailed, are small, such as this fox terrier which appears in the bottom corner of the front cover of its book and is only about two inches across.

A History and Description, with Reminiscences, of the Fox Terrier by Rawdon B. Lee (1890). The gift of Harry T. Peters, Jr.

Many of the covers feature portraits such as these noble looking hounds…

Upper left: Dogs of the British Islands by J.H. Walsh (1878). The gift of Dorothy Wagstaff Ripley. Upper right: Scotch Deer-Hounds and their Masters by George Cupples (1894). The gift of Dr. Timothy Greenan. Lower left: Spaniels by H.W. Carlton (1931). The gift of Jacqueline B. Mars. Lower right: The Dog by William Youatt (1858).

Others depict full body images such as this training manual featuring what appears to be some sort of pointer, although one with an oddly shaped head.

Dog Breaking by W.N. Hutchinson (1848)

Some of the covers incorporate the title of the book into the decorative image.

Left: Training and Handling of the Dog by B. Waters (1894). The gift of John H. and Martha Daniels. Right: The Spaniel and its Training by F.H.F. Mercer (1890).

I especially like the unusual cover for Dogs and Their Doings. This book is a collection of anecdotes describing the surprising and often heroic actions of specific dogs.

Dogs and Their Doings by Rev. F.O. Morris (1872). The gift of Mrs. Eva C. Stewart.

Although most of the images were gilt, which is eye-catching and would have been especially so when the volumes were new, there were a few decorated in either color images or black images

Left: British Dogs at Work by A. Croxton Smith (1906). The gift of Joseph B. Thomas IV. Right: Hunting Dogs by Oliver Hartley (1909).

If you’d like to explore books as objects d’art or to read about the history of bookbinding, you’re welcome to come browse the Main Reading Room.  If you’d like to get a look at some of our more elaborate bindings or editions, you’ll need to schedule a visit to the F. Ambrose Clark Rare Book Room.  Contact me for an appointment, I’d love to share some of our treasures with you.


Erica 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.

This weekend I’ll be going to the Virginia Foxhound Show.  It will be my first time at a hound show and although I’ll be going with someone knowledgeable, I’ve been doing a little homework and thought I’d pass along what I’ve learned thus far.

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The Virginia Foxhound Club Hound Show at Mrs. Marion DuPont Scott’s “Montpelier,” Orange , Virginia, 1959, by Jean Bowman. National Sporting Library and Museum, Archive Collection (MC0040).

The developmental history of foxhound breeds can and has filled volumes.  The English foxhound was developed through the cross breeding of several varieties of hounds used to hunt hare and stag.  The goal was to create a pack hound with nose and stamina enough to hunt the red fox across long distances, with mounted hunters following behind.  As the story goes, the American foxhound’s development began with a pack of hounds imported to the colonies by Robert Brooke in 1650. Over the next 200 years additional imports of English, French, and Irish hounds were crossbred with the American hounds ultimately resulting in the modern American foxhound.

Although both the English and American foxhounds were developed to hunt fox, breeders select for traits most beneficial in their local terrain.  This divergent selection has resulted in hounds with distinctly different physical characteristics.  The best summation of this difference that I found is that, American foxhounds are the Thoroughbred of foxhounds, while the English are Percherons.

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Example of an American Foxhound.  Taken from The American Foxhound Club 1975 calendar. National Sporting Library and Museum archive collection (MC0020)

American foxhounds should have a slightly domed skull, long, large ears, large eyes, straight muzzle, well laid-back shoulders, a moderately long back, fox-like feet, and a slightly curved tail.

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Example of an English foxhound.  Taken from The American Foxhound Club 1973 calendar. National Sporting Library and Museum archive collection (MC0020)

By comparison, the English foxhound is a bit shorter and more heavily built.  They have a wider skull and long muzzle.  Their ears are noticeably shorter and higher set than the American hounds, and their legs are muscular and straight-boned, with rounded, almost cat-like paws.

While hound shows can be interesting to the layperson, and are certainly social events for the groups involved, their main purpose is to further refine the development of the breeds.  It is an opportunity for breeders to see what others have accomplished, and to display their own successes.  Bloodlines with favorable traits are identified and plans are made to add them to breeding programs.

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Program for the first Virginia Foxhound Show, 1934.  National Sporting Library and Museum archive collection (MC0071)

The first Virginia Foxhound Show was associated with the American Foxhound Club and was held in 1934 at the Montpelier estate of Mrs. Marion DuPont Scott.  The meet was suspended during WWII and did not resume until 1955 at which time it was run by the newly formed Virginia Foxhound Club.   The show continued at Montpelier until 1961 when it was moved to the Upperville Horse Show grounds.  In 1965 it was relocated for several years to William W. Brainard, Jr.’s  estate, Glenara, near Marshall.  Finally it settled at Oatlands in 1970 and remained there until 1996 when it moved to its current location at Morven Park.

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This emblem decorates the silver cups presented as trophies in The Virginia Hound Show.  National Sporting Library and Museum archive collection (MC0040)

Although the show originally focused only on American Foxhounds, in the late 1960s it began to open up and now features American, English, Cross-bred, and Penn-Marydel Foxhounds.  Today the Virginia Foxhound Show is the largest sanctioned hound show in the world.

Here’s what I’ve been told to expect at the show.  All handlers wear long white coats.  Those showing English hounds, sport bowler hats, while all others use riding helmets.  English hounds are shown off leash, showcasing natural movement.

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Taken from The American Foxhound Club 1974 calendar. National Sporting Library and Museum archive collection (MC0020)

There are contests for the best of both sexes of, individual hounds, couples of hounds, and parent/offspring, within each class, American, English, Cross-bred, and Penn-Marydel.  The hounds are judged for conformation to an ideal breed standard.

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Taken from The American Foxhound Club 1969 calendar. National Sporting Library and Museum archive collection (MC0020)

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Taken from The American Foxhound Club 1972 calendar. National Sporting Library and Museum archive collection (MC0020)

There are also pack classes of five couple of hounds.  These are judged as a unit on uniformity, conformation, and way of moving; on the obedience of hounds to huntsman; and on the responsiveness of hounds to huntsman.

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Taken from The American Foxhound Club 1974 calendar. National Sporting Library and Museum archive collection (MC0020)

The Junior Handler Class is open to children associated with exhibiting packs.  There are two divisions, aged under 10, and aged 11-16.  Participants are judged on handling and presentation of the foxhound.  This promises to be quite cute as the children sport the same white coats and hats as adult handlers.  I’m looking forward to seeing all the hounds in person!

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Taken from The American Foxhound Club 1975 calendar. National Sporting Library and Museum archive collection (MC0020)

If you would like to learn more about foxhounds, hunts, or sporting dogs in general, the Library has many resources available.  There are extensive archival materials on various hunts, their hound pedigrees, journals of kennel activities, hound shows, and hunt diaries.  The Main Reading Room houses books on a wide range of breeds and strains.  You can also learn about training sporting dogs, kennel construction, or the medical care of these canine athletes.  Readers can catch up on current events in the hound community through Hounds magazine, also available in the Main Reading Room.  Come visit me in the Library and I’d be happy to connect you with any of these resources.


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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

This year, the NSLM is fortunate to have received numerous gifts of art from several generous donors. One such gift is a rare set of 22 hand-colored aquatints from 1807 and 1808, Orme’s Collection of British Field Sports: Illustrated in Twenty Beautifully Coloured Engravings from Designs by S. Howitt – an impressively long name for an impressive set of works on paper. Published by Edward Orme of London (who proudly labeled himself as “Printseller to the King”)  the series features scenes of hunting, shooting, and racing. The works were recently donated to the NSLM by George and Susan Matelich and Family.

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(after) W. M. Craig (English, c. 1765-c.1834), Engraved by James Godby (English, active 1790-1820) and Henri Merke (Swiss, active c.1800 – c.1820), Orme’s Collection of British Field Sports: Illustrated in Twenty Beautifully coloured Engravings from Designs by S. Howitt (Title Page), Published by Edward Orme, January 1, 1807 hand-colored aquatint, image: 13 ¼ x 17 ⅜ inches, National Sporting Library & Museum, Gift of George & Susan Matelich and Family, 2016 (2016.04.01)

Originally housed in a large folio case, the prints are now framed individually. Yet all 20 plates, plus the title page, list of plates, and the original illustrated folio cover are still together. Oftentimes, these types of works are broken up and sold separately, never to be reunited. Full sets are rare.  Another complete set that is still bound as a folio can be found in the collection of the Yale Center for British Art.

(after) Samuel Howitt (English, 1765-1822) Engraved by James Godby (English, active 1790-1820) and Henri Merke (Swiss, active c.1800 – c.1820) Horse Racing Published by Edward Orme, January 1, 1807 hand-colored aquatint, 13 ¼ x 17 ⅜ inches National Sporting Library & Museum, Gift of George and Susan Matelich and Family, 2016 (2016.04.04)
(after) Samuel Howitt (English, 1765-1822), Engraved by James Godby (English, active 1790-1820) and Henri Merke (Swiss, active c.1800 – c.1820), Horse Racing, Published by Edward Orme, January 1, 1807, hand-colored aquatint, 13 ¼ x 17 ⅜ inches, National Sporting Library & Museum, Gift of George & Susan Matelich and Family, 2016 (2016.04.04)

Samuel Howitt was an artist known for his images of hunting, animals, and equestrian scenes. This set includes some of his best works and was a prized collection piece. Often described as a highly important set of English sporting images, these prints are excellent examples of the popular sporting art being produced at the beginning of the 19th century.

(after) Samuel Howitt (English, 1765-1822) Engraved by James Godby (English, active 1790-1820) and Henri Merke (Swiss, active c.1800-c.1820) Stag Hunting 1 Published by Edward Orme, March 1, 1807 hand-colored aquatint, 13 ¼ x 17 ⅜ inches National Sporting Library & Museum, Gift of George and Susan Matelich and Family, 2016 (2016.04.07)
(after) Samuel Howitt (English, 1765-1822), Engraved by James Godby (English, active 1790-1820) and Henri Merke (Swiss, active c.1800-c.1820), Stag Hunting 1, Published by Edward Orme, March 1, 1807, hand-colored aquatint, 13 ¼ x 17 ⅜ inches, National Sporting Library & Museum, Gift of George & Susan Matelich and Family, 2016 (2016.04.07)

The engravings are titled in both English and French. They are in excellent condition, with colors that are still vibrant – no small feat for fragile works on paper that are 210 years old. Deep reds and blues are usually the first to fade.

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Detail of Stag Hunting 1, showing the fine condition of the blue and red colors

Each are numbered and feature the name of the artist, printmaker, and engraver in small script along the bottom edge.

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“Sam’l Howitt del.”

For those of you who have prints hanging on your walls at home and have wondered what the abbreviations stand for, here is a quick Latin lesson:
del. is short for delineavit, meaning  “Drawn By”
excudit means “Printed by” or “Published by”
sculp. or sculpt. is short for sculpsit, which means “Engraved by”

(after) Samuel Howitt (English, 1765-1822), Engraved by John Clark (English, active 1775-1825) and Henri Merke (Swiss, active c.1800 – c.1820) Shooters Going Out in a Morning Published by Edward Orme, March 25, 1808 hand-colored aquatint, 13 ¼ x 17 ⅜ inches National Sporting Library & Museum, Gift of George and Susan Matelich and Family, 2016 (2016.04.03)
(after) Samuel Howitt (English, 1765-1822), Engraved by John Clark (English, active 1775-1825) and Henri Merke (Swiss, active c.1800 – c.1820), Shooters Going Out in a Morning, Published by Edward Orme, March 25, 1808, hand-colored aquatint, 13 ¼ x 17 ⅜ inches, National Sporting Library & Museum, Gift of George & Susan Matelich and Family, 2016 (2016.04.03)

The List of Plates includes a charming image of a hare. The same hare can be found in the collection of the British Museum in London.

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(after) Samuel Howitt (English, 1765-1822), Engraved by J. Swaine (English, 1775-1860), Hare, Published by Edward Orme, March 9, 1808, 24 x 32 cm, British Museum, Donated by Nan Ino Cooper, Baroness Lucas of Crudwell and Lady Dingwall, In Memory of Auberon Thomas Herbert, 9th Baron Lucas of Crudwell and 5th Lord Dingwall, 1917 (1917,1208.3170)

(after) Samuel Howitt (English, 1765-1822), Engraved by John Clark (English, active 1775-1825) and Henri Merke (Swiss, active c.1800 – c.1820) Pheasant Shooting 1 Published by Edward Orme, June 1, 1807 hand-colored aquatint, 13 ¼ x 17 ⅜ inches National Sporting Library & Museum, Gift of George and Susan Matelich and Family, 2016 (2016.04.13)
(after) Samuel Howitt (English, 1765-1822), Engraved by John Clark (English, active 1775-1825) and Henri Merke (Swiss, active c.1800 – c.1820), Pheasant Shooting 1, Published by Edward Orme, June 1, 1807, hand-colored aquatint, 13 ¼ x 17 ⅜ inches, National Sporting Library & Museum, Gift of George & Susan Matelich and Family, 2016 (2016.04.13)

These works are now part of the growing collection of prints and drawings in the NSLM art collection and we look forward to putting them on view soon. You can see other works on paper from the permanent collection in the special exhibition Picturing English Pastimes: Sporting Prints at the NSLM, currently on view in the Museum. Curated by visiting John H. Daniels Fellow Jennifer Strotz, this installation of late 18th and early 19th century prints focuses on the British print market and equestrian subjects.


Nicole Stribling is CuNicole Stribling is Curator of Permanent Collections at the NSLM. She has worked at the NSLM since December 2012. As Curator of Permanent Collections, she catalogs and cares for the fine art collections and manages the registrar duties for the collection and loans, coordinating packing, shipping, and insurance arrangements. Prior to the NSLM, Nicole worked at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, in the American and British Paintings Department and in the Exhibitions Department. She earned her BA in Art History from the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia and is currently pursuing her MA in Museum Studies at Johns Hopkins University.rator of Permanent Collections at the National Sporting Library & Museum (NSLM). She catalogs and cares for the art collection, which includes paintings, sculpture, works on paper, and decorative arts ranging from the 17th through 21st centuries. Have a question about the NSLM collections? Contact Nicole by email.

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

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

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

Have you ever seen an incredibly large painting and wondered how the artist knew what they would be painting before taking on such a large project? Artists often begin with a series of studies, sometimes called sketches, which allow them to practice before committing to a larger work.

The NSLM collection includes a series of nine portraits of hounds by German/American artist Gustav Muss-Arnolt (1858 – 1927) done in preparation for a larger piece The Meadow Brook Hounds Meet at the Old Westbury Pond (c. 1885), commissioned by August Belmont, Jr. (1853 – 1924), acting Master of Foxhounds for the Meadow Brook Hunt during the 1884 – 1885 season and builder of New York’s famous Belmont Park racetrack.

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Gustave Muss-Arnolt, Matchless, c. 1885, oil on canvas, 10 1/4 x 13 1/4 inches, Gift of Harry T. Peters, Jr., 1973

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Chanticleer

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Baronet

Muss-Arnolt was a talented painter of dogs – and definitely what we would call a “dog person.” He was a noted dog show judge and an important part of the American Kennel Club and many other early American dog clubs.

The paintings were recently put back on view in the Museum’s Vine Hill Galleries and have fabulous names like “Matchless,” “Chanticleer,” and “Baronet.” These pieces were donated to the NSLM in 1973 by Mr. Harry T. Peters, Jr. whose father, Harry T. Peters, Sr., was MFH of the Meadow Brook Hunt from 1926 – 1946.

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Gustave Muss-Arnolt, Portraits of the Meadow Brook Hounds, c. 1885, oil on canvas, 10 1/4 x 13 1/4 inches each, Gift of Harry T. Peters, Jr., 1973

The paintings are interesting because they not only show the artistic process used by Muss-Arnolt, but because of several connections they share with pieces in our book collection. In the main reading room of our library is a book entitled The Story of American Foxhunting vol. II by J.B. Van Urk.

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Frontispiece of The Story of American Foxhunting, Vol. II, by J. Blan Van Urk (New York: The Derrydale Press, 1941).

 

Van Urk’s book includes both an illustration of the hound pieces, as well as an image of the final version of The Meadow Brook Hounds Meet at the Old Westbury Pond. Can you spot which hounds from the studies are in the larger piece?

Connections like these abound in our collections, and we continue to have fun discovering them!


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Frances Monroe is the Membership & Visitor Engagement Coordinator at the National Sporting Library & Museum. She helps visitors engage more fully with the Library and Museum collections through participation in events, programs, and tours. She also coordinates the NSLM’s volunteer program.