DSCF4501
Great Sporting Posters of the Golden Age, Sid Latham (1978)

In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s manufacturers of guns, munitions, and to a lesser extent fishing tackle, promoted their products with large colorful posters and calendars, featuring artwork commissioned from some of the finest illustrators of the era. I was recently introduced to this art form through Sid Latham’s book, Great Sporting Posters of the Golden Age (1978). This oversize volume, found in the Library’s Main Reading Room, showcases two dozen advertising posters.

DSCF4481
Brant by Lynn Bogue Hunt (1909), for Du Pont Powder Company.

Right away one notices the lack of product information on these posters. There are company names, and tag lines, but beyond that there are only the images. Rather than directly peddling their products, these companies seek to evoke the memories and feelings of a viewer’s own experience in the field, and to associate their products with those experiences.

Here we see the thrill of the chase.  The image on the left was created for The Horton Manufacturing Company by Philip R. Goodwin (1917).  The lake scene on the right is by an unknown artist and was created for The Laflin & Rand Powder Company (1904 or 1905).  Quite a few of the posters in Latham’s book are by uncredited artists.  He tells us that some artists would not sign their commercial work in order to maintain their reputations as fine artists.  Apparently advertising work was considered undignified by some.

The next two posters highlight the beauty of the quarry.  The pair of grouse on the left are by Edward Knoebel (1909) for The Winchester Repeating Arms Company.  On the right, Gustave Muss-Arnolt places the viewer in the sky with a squadron of mallard ducks.  This poster was created for The Peters Cartridge Company.

Some posters, like this one by Carl Rungius for the Savage Arms Company (1904), showcase the moment of victory.

DSCF4483

This scene showing an unexpected occurrence sure to become an oft-told tale was done by an unknown artist for The Laflin & Rand Powder Company (1906).

DSCF4486

Both of the posters below are by unnamed artists.  They highlight a hunter’s working relationship and companionship with his dogs.  The setters on the left were painted for The Winchester Repeating Arms Company.  The hunter resting with his canine companions was created for Lefever Arms Company.

And of course, you can’t go wrong with puppies!  These adorable chaps were painted for The Union Metallic Cartridge Company by an unknown artist (1904).

DSCF4487

One of the reasons I think these illustrations are so evocative is that many of the artists were sporting men themselves. They spent time in the field and as a result their images have an authentic feel. In The Art of American Arms Makers (2004), we can see Philip R. Goodwin’s, Off for the Day’s Hunt, first as a preliminary water color sketch, next as the completed oil painting, and finally as a calendar for Winchester Guns and Cartridges.  Goodwin hunted in Montana in 1907 and 1910.  It’s likely that this scene is drawn from his experiences on those trips.

DSCF4500
Off for the Day’s Hunt by Philip R. Goodwin (1915).  In The Art of American Arms Makers, Richard C. Rattenbury (2004).  The gift of David S. Nelson.

Once the readership of sporting magazines ballooned manufacturers began to reach out to their potential customers through that venue.  There was no longer a need for the posters.  Today they are quite collectible, and of course they remain as evocative as ever.  In fact an added layer of nostalgia increases their beauty.

Beyond creating commercial posters, these artists illustrated books, painted, and sculpted.  The Library’s collections contain many examples of their work, as well as books about their careers.  The museum also holds examples of fine art created by some of the same artists.

1973.21.1a_2400pix
Matchless, by Gustave Muss-Arnolt (1885).  The gift of Harry T. Peters, Jr.

Drop in and read about Lynn Bogue Hunt’s, or Carl Rungius’ life in The Main Reading Room, or view a set of hound portraits painted by Gustave Muss-Arnolt in the Museum’s permanent collection.


SONY DSCErica 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

It’s July, and we’re really busy here at NSLM! Between our free concerts, free Carriage Day event, a full summer camp for 3rd to 5th graders, and preparations for our 6th Annual Polo Classic, we’re excited to be interacting with more people in the Library and Museum than ever before. We’ve also been rearranging again. To save space, we’re transferring our archive collections to a separate room on the Lower Level. Lastly, we’re gearing up for our end-of-year special projects: our Annual Auction in September and October and a new program to be announced for November.

archive
A sneak preview of our new Archives Room. New shelves have made a more efficient filing system possible.

As if these projects aren’t enough, I decided recently to start exploring taking riding lessons. It’s a big step for me, since I’m generally more book person than horse person. I grew up around farm animals in rural Wisconsin, but there aren’t many horses in those parts. I’ll be starting from the bottom. While I’m looking around for instructors, I decided to look at some introductory books on the subject (I’m in luck to care for a collection numbering in the thousands of books on riding). Who better to ask than the incomparable C. W. Anderson (1891-1971)?

anderson1
C. W. Anderson’s style is recognizable at a glance.

Anderson wrote and illustrated dozens of horse books during his life, including the beloved “Billy and Blaze” books. His style of drawing is easily recognizable for his ability to reveal detail through the careful balance of shadow and light.

anderson3
“Heads Up – Heels Down” is full of practical, timeless advice. Present treats flat, or eager horse teeth might accidentally nip!


Heads Up – Heels Down
was written by Anderson in 1944. I only just began reading, so a full report will have to wait for a future post. However, I don’t mind telling you I chose Heads Up – Heels Down for two reasons. The first reason is that it came highly recommended by Lisa Campbell, who served as NSLM Librarian from 2004 to 2014. We purchased several copies of Heads Up – Heels Down in Lisa’s honor when she left the Library.\

anderson2
Conformation, both good and bad, and how to know a sound horse.

The second reason is that Heads Up – Heels Down is an excellent introduction to general horsemanship.Anderson’s own introductory note is a great summary of the scope of the book:

“So many books on the subject of riding have appeared that this work was begun with some hesitancy. However, one phase of the subject has been neglected to a great extent — the care and handling of a horse by the novice who must also be his own groom and stable boy. If your riding and handling of horses begins and ends at the mounting block you may become a rider, but never a horseman.”

How could I say no to such a challenge? We have thousands of books at NSLM, and they encompass all manner of topics concerning the care, handling, and riding of horses. I’m preparing to climb onto a horse for the first time, and it appeals to me that I should pursue the whole deal. The details are all critical, even the ones that aren’t  glorious or glamorous. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

anderson4
An overview of tack and how to prepare the horse for riding.

I’ll have more updates about my learning to ride in the coming weeks! Several other staff members have eagerly volunteered to take photos and video, so you can follow along as I fall off for the first time(s). I’ll also circle back around with some additional excerpts and images from C. W. Anderson in Heads Up – Heels Down, too. In the meantime, please e-mail me with your favorite “intro to riding” books! Chances are, we have a copy and I’d like to look them up.


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

Lionel Edwards (1878-1966) was a British painter and illustrator who focused primarily on scenes of sporting life (we have highlighted some of his work on our blog in the past). He was an avid huntsman and over the course of his life hunted with most of the packs in the United Kingdom. In his book, The Wiles of the Fox, Edwards gives us a series of anecdotes accompanied by sketches, which describe exploits he has witnessed foxes use to escape the hounds.

wiles2
The Wiles of the Fox: Some Notes and Sketches Sketches by Lionel Edwards. London: The Medici Society and The Sporting Gallery, 1932. National Sporting Library & Museum, gift of John H. Daniels, 1994.

The contest in a fox hunt is between the hounds’ ability to follow the fox’s scent, and the fox’s ability to elude them.  At first glance it seems an unfair battle, an entire pack of hounds versus a single fox.  But in the foreword of his book Edwards estimates that only one in five foxes discovered by hounds is caught.  He goes on to praise the fox’s skill saying…

“Granting that few foxes are killed in comparison to those found by hounds, there are other people besides my Todhunter who have difficulty in realizing that catching a fox is not as easy as it sounds.  A huntsman, from youth and inexperience, conceit or old age, or a hundred other causes, often contributes to his own defeat, and the fact remains that among the many partners of the chase, the only one who makes few errors is usually the fox!” (p.7-8)

The stories fall into several categories.  First are tricks that hide or confuse the fox’s scent trail.  Whether or not the fox realizes the effect of such maneuvers and engages in them intentionally is up for speculation.  These activities include things such as…

Running along the tops of walls:

wiles6
On the Top of the Wall

Escaping along roads:

wiles5
Fox Running the Road

Or rolling in manure:

wiles3
Manure

Sometimes foxes escape through outside assistance. This could make use of other animals to distract the hounds, or when a second fox’s scent confuses the hounds into losing track.

wiles1
Changing foxes

A final type of escape relies on the fox’s natural agility, which allows it to sometimes bolt through a pack of hounds unscathed or sail over them from the top of a bank.

wiles4
Flying Fox

If you would like to learn more about Edward’s life and work, NSLM holds many examples of his illustrations, as well as several biographies about him. Foxes are known for being crafty, and animals can often surprise us with their behavior. Leave us a comment below to share your surprising animal stories with us!


 

SONY DSC

Erica Libhart has served as the MarsLibrarian 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 feature is Leaves From A Hunting Journal by Georgina Bowers.  Published in 1880, this compilation book is filled with humorous cartoons about the foxhunting field.

Leaves From A Hunting Journal, London: Chatto & Windus, 1880.
Leaves From A Hunting Journal, London: Chatto & Windus, 1880. This volume is bound in papered boards that show the wear of age.

Georgina Bowers (1835-1912) was a cartoonist, caricaturist, and illustrator whose works were published beginning in the 1860s. Bowers rose to prominence as an illustrator for the humorous British magazine Punch. In 1871, she married Henry Edwards, a horse surgeon.

"A Pleasant Way," and "An Uncomfortable Way," from Leaves From A Hunting Journal.
“A Pleasant Way,” and “An Uncomfortable Way,” from Leaves From A Hunting Journal.

Bowers was an avid hunter, and claimed that most of her humorous material was drawn from her observations on horseback as she rode to hounds.

“Still waters run deep - a lesson best learned by experience,” from Leaves From A Hunting Journal.
“Still waters run deep – a lesson best learned by experience,” from Leaves From A Hunting Journal.

Many of the stand-alone books she compiled later in her career deal with hunting and riding, and NSLM holds five different titles by Bowers in the F. Ambrose Clark Rare Book Room.

“Bad excuses better than none - A lost shoe is a favorite one with old Kopperas, who is always left behind,” from Leaves From A Hunting Journal.
“Bad excuses better than none – A lost shoe is a favorite one with old Kopperas, who is always left behind,” from Leaves From A Hunting Journal.

This is one of over 100 books available to purchase through the NSLM Annual Auction. The Annual Auction, composed of duplicates from the Library collections, will continue until November 8. This year’s Auction includes some lovely sporting art and is perfect for holiday shopping; contact John Connolly, the George L. Ohrstrom, Jr. Librarian for more information.