As far back as the early 16th Century, horses served an important ceremonial role in the political and social life throughout Europe. In addition to satisfying the basic needs of transportation in civil and military life, the ability to ride became an essential mark of the nobility. So strong was the link, royal displays of horses and carriages in processional pageants became a staple of social life that can still be seen sometimes today.

These pageants were more than symbols of aristocratic power; they were a public spectacle and people of all stations flocked to view them.

Tableau of the Procession at the Coronation of Queen Victoria. Gift of John and Martha Daniels, 1999.
Tableau of the Procession at the Coronation of Queen Victoria. Gift of John and Martha Daniels, 1999.

Today’s highlight is a bound panorama that was printed to commemorate the coronation procession of Queen Victoria in 1838. The panorama was printed and folded into a booklet to give the impression of seeing the great procession.

"Captain General of the Royal Archers," and "Her Majesty's State Carriage."
“Captain General of the Royal Archers,” and “Her Majesty’s State Carriage.”

Panoramas were made popular by the painter Robert Barker, who began producing them in the late 18th Century.

Senior Econ &c," "Yeomen of the Guard," and "Junior Exons."
Senior Econ &c,” “Yeomen of the Guard,” and “Junior Exons.”

Barker eventually constructed a building to view panoramas in Leicester Square in London, and similar exhibitions spread throughout Europe through the 18th Century.

"Deputy Adjutant General &c."
“Deputy Adjutant General &c.”

This volume folds the pages back and forth; the image is continuous from page to page. NSLM has several other similar panoramas in the F. Ambrose Clark Rare Book Room, but they are all rolled into a scroll casing.

"Queen's Household."
“Queen’s Household.”

The grandeur of the horses and carriages, as well as the number of servants, guards, and attendants (all in matching livery), publicly showcased the power and grace of the English monarchy. We could only fit a few images here on the blog. Panoramas have been the subject of our weekly Gallery Talks, so if you have a chance please stop by the Library at 2:00 p.m. on Wednesdays to see the rest!

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Happy World Book Day! In celebration, I’m going to share with you the books that make the biggest impression when I give tours: the fore-edge painting books. Fore-edge painting is the very old practice of painting tiny images on the edges of the pages.

Fishing Scene, Fore-edge painting, fanned to the right. The Poetical Works of Thomas Campbell, London, Edward Moxon, 1840.
Fishing Scene, Fore-edge painting, fanned to the right. The Poetical Works of Thomas Campbell, London, Edward Moxon, 1840. Gift of John H. and Martha Daniels.

The book block is angled and clamped while the tiny watercolor painting is made.

Foxhunting Scene, Fore-edge painting, fanned to the right, Thoughts on Hunting in a Series of Familiar Letters to a Friend, by Peter Beckford, Esq., London, Sherwood, Neely, and Jones, 1820. Gift of John H. and Martha Daniels.

After drying, the clamp is released and a bookbinder applies marbling or gilt to the closed book. This makes the painting invisible when the book is closed, but it appears when the pages are fanned.

The gilt edges hide the painting on the edge. To the casual observer, there's nothing special here...
The gilt edges hide the painting on the edge. To the casual observer, there’s nothing special here…

NSLM’s fore-edge painting collection is housed in the F. Ambrose Clark Rare Book Room. We have about 30 of them, and they depict riding, hunting, or fishing scenes.

Hunting Scene, Fore-edge painting, fanned to the right, The Poetical Works of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Edinburgh and London, Gall & Inglis, Gift of John H. and Martha Daniels.
Hunting Scene, Fore-edge painting, fanned to the right, The Poetical Works of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Edinburgh and London, Gall & Inglis. Gift of John H. and Martha Daniels.

Most of them date from the middle of the 19th Century to the early 20th Century. Although fore-edge painting is rare, there are still some artists who produce fore-edge art today.

Shooting Scene, Fore-edge painting, fanned to the right, The Bird, by Jules Michelet; with 210 illustrations by Giacomelli, London, T. Nelson and Sons, 1872. Gift of John H. and Martha Daniels.
Shooting Scene, Fore-edge painting, fanned to the right, The Bird, by Jules Michelet, London, T. Nelson and Sons, 1872. Gift of John H. and Martha Daniels.

Do you have a hidden painting in your old books? Check your book collections and fan the pages. You never know what you might find!

Our recent Fellow, Collin McKinney, has left the NSLM and returned to Bucknell University. We asked Collin to share some of his experiences over the last two months in Middleburg and in our collections. Here’s what he had to share.

I arrived in Middleburg on a sunny day at the beginning in January. I think it might have been the only sunny day during my entire stay. Notwithstanding the snow and cold—and it sure was cold—I spent a fantastic two months working at the National Sporting Library. During my eight weeks in Middleburg I had a simple routine. I would wake up and go for a jog around town and out by the Salamander Resort. After breakfast I would work at the library, compiling notes and references from the books in the library’s collection. After lunch and an espresso at Common Grounds I would head back to the library and work until closing time. After dinner in the cottage I would review my notes for the day and plan my work for the next morning. That might not seem very exciting to most people, but for an academic to be able to escape department meetings, course prep, and household chores in order to focus on research, it was pure bliss.

My short stay was extremely productive. I am researching the link between masculinity, militarism, and sport in Spain. Although the library’s collection is especially rich in American and British sources, there are also some real treasures on Spain. I found books on bullfighting, jousting, fencing, dueling, and hunting. One of my favorite discoveries was a hunting manual attributed to the King Alfonso XI, Libro de la montería (the NSLM has an 1582 edition as well as a facsimile version from the nineteenth century).

Cover page from "Libro de la Monteria" used in Collin's research
Cover page from “Libro de la Monteria” used in Collin’s research

Besides being a fascinating description of the hunting practices in medieval Spain, it confirms the link between hunting and martial success. King Alfonso tells his readers that: “a knight should always engage in anything to do with arms and chivalry, and if he cannot do so in war, he should do so in activities which resemble war. And the chase is most similar to war.” Over the centuries, as military activity became professionalized and Spain created a standing army, men no longer needed to hunt but continued to do so for pleasure.

Woodcut illustration from "Libro de monteria"
Woodcut illustration from “Libro de  la monteria”

While a cursory glance might suggest that modern sport is far removed from the battlefield, a more careful look will reveal the link between field sports, indeed all sport, and warfare.  The next time you turn on a football game, notice the military rhetoric used by sportscasters, watch the strategies involved as teams attack and defend their terrain, and note the way spectators demonstrate their loyalties with flags, fight songs, and uniforms as they celebrate symbolic battles of controlled violence.

Another illustration from "Libro de la monteria" - Dogs and men hunting elk with a fence barrier
Another illustration from “Libro de la monteria” – Dogs and men hunting elk

During the coming months I plan to write two articles. The first is titled “How to Be a Man in Nineteenth-Century Spain,” which will outline the tension between traditional, rough masculinity and modern, refined masculinity. This study will examine the rise of the bullfight as an example of the way that bellicose masculinity was socialized, codified, and relegated to the sporting arena by Spain’s middle class. The second article I plan to write deals with the sportification of warfare more generally, beginning with medieval field sports and continuing to present-day activities like soccer and tennis.

 


In the F. Ambrose Clark Rare Book Room, I came across a rare gem, tucked away in the John H. Daniels Manuscripts Collection. It’s a poem called “The Bonie Moorhen: A Hunting Song.” The manuscript is an autograph manuscript by Robert Burns (1759-1796), the foremost national poet of Scotland. Burns wrote poetry and composed songs, and he also collected Scottish folk songs for publication. Many Americans haven’t heard of Robert Burns, but still sing his song “Auld Lang Syne” at the end of each year.

Its not every day you can crack open an autograph manuscript from the king of Scottish poetry!
Its not every day you can crack open an autograph manuscript from *the* Scottish poet!

At face value, the poem is a hunting song about the difficulty of capturing a grouse in the wild. A local manages to win away with the grouse where all others failed.

The transcribed hunting song. A "moor-hen" is more widely known to us as a grouse, whose excellent camouflage and sudden flight makes it a difficult target.
The transcribed hunting song. A “moor-hen” is more widely known to us as a grouse, whose excellent camouflage and sudden flight makes it a difficult target.

However, there’s intrigue and romance afoot in this poem: The poem serves as an allegory for Burns’ relationship with Nancy McLehose, who exchanged letters with Burns in the 1780s. Nancy was estranged from her husband, and urged Burns to refrain from publishing the transparent song.

Apparently, the poem is a not-so-loosely veiled allegory about Burns and his correspondent friend, Clarinda, who married a Glasgow gentleman named Maclehose.
Apparently, the poem is a not-so-loosely veiled allegory about Burns and his correspondent friend, Clarinda, who married a Glasgow gentleman named McLehose.
Burns did not publish the poem in his lifetime, submitting to Clarinda's request not to publish. The poem was published after Burns' death.
Burns did not publish the poem in his lifetime, submitting to Clarinda’s request not to publish. The poem was published after Burns’ death.

Do you want to learn more about Robert Burns? If you’re in the region, you should check out the upcoming event, Hylton in the Highlands at the Hylton Performing Arts Center on GMU’s Prince William Campus. This year’s festival is next Saturday, January 24 from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. The day-long festival celebrates Scottish culture with music, interactive presentations, exhibits, and food tastings.

Further, the Hylton Center also hosts a Burns Supper to commemorate the life and works of Robert Burns. The event is complete with a special performance by the musical duo Alan Reid and Rob van Sante, a poetry reading, Scotch whisky tasting and the presentation of Scotland’s “National Dish,” haggis.

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!

IMG_6423
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!

IMG_6427
“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.”

The NSLM manuscripts collection is in the F. Ambrose Clark Rare Book Room, which houses the Library’s rare books collection as well as the John H. Daniels Collection. One of the manuscripts donated by John and Martha Daniels is a letter from Edith Somerville to Virginia sportsman Harry Worcester Smith in 1924. Somerville was a prominent author of sporting novels with her  cousin “Martin Ross” (Violet Martin).

Worcester Smith had written to Somerville to inquire about the possibility of resurrecting fox hunting in the West Carbery country of Ireland. Somerville responded with a long letter outlining all the considerations: the climate and conditions of country, as well as social concerns following a brutal five years of Irish conflict.
Worcester Smith had written to Somerville to inquire about the possibility of resurrecting fox hunting in the West Carbery country of Ireland. Somerville responded with a long letter outlining all the considerations: the climate and conditions of country, as well as social concerns following a brutal five years of Irish conflict.
"It is, of course, supremely necessary to keep on good terms with everyone, & specially the farmers. The land now belongs to them, so Hunting is at their mercy. I am glad to say that I found them invariable friendly, (but I & my people have always lived here & been good friends with them, which of course helps very much)."
“It is, of course, supremely necessary to keep on good terms with everyone, & specially the farmers. The land now belongs to them, so Hunting is at their mercy. I am glad to say that I found them invariable friendly, (but I & my people have always lived here & been good friends with them, which of course helps very much).”
Somerville's signature. On the reverse of the page, she requests the return of the letter for re-use.
Somerville’s signature. On the reverse of the page, she requests the return of the letter for re-use.

John Connolly
George L. Ohrstrom, Jr. Librarian

Today I get to share an item of which we’re very proud at NSLM. This is the original manuscript of “Riding to Hounds on Long Island,” an essay written by Theodore Roosevelt in July 1886 for the Century Illustrated Monthly Magazine. I’m always certain to bring this out for viewing when we have visitors on tour at the Library.

The essay is beautifully bound and is part of the John H. Daniels Manuscripts Collection.
The essay is beautifully bound and is part of the John H. Daniels Manuscripts Collection.
Red leather and gilt decorations grace this custom binding.
Red leather and gilt decorations adorn the custom binding.
The first page. The essay is written on plain note paper.
The first page. The essay is written on plain note paper.
A photograph of Teddy opposite page one. In 1886, Roosevelt was 28 years old.
A photograph of Teddy opposite page one. In 1886, Roosevelt was 28 years old.
The pages are folded into thirds, presumably stored in a pocket or in an envelope.
The pages are folded into thirds, presumably stored in a pocket or in an envelope.
Guests often comment on the edits in the draft body. Even future presidents aren't above revising their work! In the digital era, edits are mainly invisible.
Guests often comment on the edits in the draft body. Even future presidents aren’t above revising their work! In the digital era, edits are mainly invisible.
Roosevelt's signature on the final page of the manuscript.
Roosevelt’s signature on the final page of the manuscript.
The essay was published as the first item in The Century Illustrated Monthly Magazine, July 1886.
The essay was published as the first item in The Century Illustrated Monthly Magazine, July 1886.
Roosevelt's main theme is a defense of foxhunting as a sport compatible with American culture. He refutes the notion that the practice is too British.
Roosevelt’s main theme is a defense of foxhunting as a sport compatible with American culture. He refutes the notion that the practice is too British.
"It goes without saying that the man who takes to hunting, not because it is a manly sport, but because it is done abroad, is a foolish snob; but, after all, he stands about on the same intellectual level with the man who refuses to take it up because it happens to be liked on the other side of the water."
“It goes without saying that the man who takes to hunting, not because it is a manly sport, but because it is done abroad, is a foolish snob; but, after all, he stands about on the same intellectual level with the man who refuses to take it up because it happens to be liked on the other side of the water.”