Since 1939, the Piedmont Foxhounds have hosted the Piedmont Point-to-Point races in Upperville, Virginia. The most prestigious race of the meet is the Rokeby Challenge Bowl, which, for decades, has attracted top horses in training for major steeplechase races. From 1939 until his death in 1999, the race and trophy were sponsored by Mr. Paul Mellon, who was a member of Piedmont and an avid supporter of jump racing. The winner of the race received a small trophy to keep and their names were engraved on a large perpetual trophy which they could keep for one year. Those who won the race three times (not necessarily consecutively or with the same horse) retired the trophy and could take it home for keeps. The trophies provided by Mr. Mellon were exquisite examples of silver and were highly sought after prizes.

The Rokeby Bowl, Piedmont Point-to-Point trophy, c. 1720, sterling silver, on wood and silver base, 15 x 10 ⅞ inches, National Sporting Library & Museum, Gift of Mary Gillian Fenwick, 2016

One of the original silver Rokeby Bowl trophies has been generously donated to the NSLM by Mary Gillian “Gill” Fenwick. Mrs. Fenwick retired the Rokeby Bowl after winning the race three consecutive years, in 1961, 1962, and 1963. She was just the third owner to retire the trophy (five more have done so since then). Her winners were piloted by the famous steeplechase jockey Crompton “Tommy” Smith, Jr., all three years. The horses were Bay Barrage (1961), General Tony (1962), and Fluctuate (1963).

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Tommy Smith aboard Fluctuate, in the 1963 Rokeby Bowl steeplechase. Tommy Smith (1937-2013) was a five-time Maryland Hunt Cup winner and became famous for winning the British Grand National race in 1965 with Jay Trump.  Photo courtesy of Carol Fenwick. ©Howard Allen Photography, LLC

All three were talented racers. After winning in 1961, Bay Barrage ran again in 1962 with Olympic equestrian Frank Chapot on board. He placed third against his stablemate General Tony. Past Maryland Hunt Cup winner Fluctuate, nicknamed “Chris,” won in 1963 when he was 16 years-young and was rewarded with well-earned retirement.

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Gill Fenwick (right) and Tommy Smith (left) accepting the Rokeby Bowl trophies from Mrs. Thomas B. Glascock, Jr. (center) in 1961. Photo courtesy of Carol Fenwick. ©Howard Allen Photography, LLC

The original course was on Mellon’s Rokeby Farm property in Upperville. The race was 4 1/4 miles long, included 22 post and rail fences averaging 3’9″ high, and included two in-and-outs! In 1957, the point-to-point was relocated to the farms of Mrs. J. F. F. Stewart and Dr. and Mrs. A. C. Randolph along Route 50 in Upperville, now known as the Salem Farm course.

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Frank Chapot (1932-2016) on Bay Barrage in the 1962 running of the Rokeby Bowl. Chapot, who just recently passed away in 2016, was an Olympic medalist, USET coach, and world-renowned trainer, who also occasionally rode in steeplechases. Photo courtesy of Carol Fenwick. ©Howard Allen Photography, LLC

The trophy itself has more stories to tell. The bowl is almost 300 years old, dating to the year 1720. The plain silver punch bowl is hand-engraved with an image of a horse and jockey and inscribed with the words “Silver Tail’d Betty” and “Banbury Town Plate 1720.”  Town Plates (flat race meetings) were held in towns all over England for centuries. Prior to the establishment of the Jockey Club in the early 1750’s, each meet featured its own set of rules. The town of Banbury is located in Oxfordshire, in Southern England.

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Detail of Rokeby Bowl trophy, with engraving of horse and jockey and “Silver Tail’d Bettey”

After Mr. Mellon acquired the bowl, he added a tiered wooden base with sterling silver bands and donated it to Piedmont for the race. The NSLM is grateful to Mrs. Fenwick for gifting this special piece of racing history to the collection. It has traveled a long way since it was first used as a race trophy in 18th century England, then awarded at steeplechase races in 20th century America, and now has a home on display at the NSLM.

The 76th running of the Piedmont Point-to-Point takes place Saturday, March 25th at the Salem Farm course in Upperville, Virginia. For a schedule of all the Spring Steeplechase races, visit the Virginia Steeplechase Association calendar.

This week we kick off our Annual Auction, our main Library fundraiser of the year. Our highlight today comes from the books for sale in the Auction, but it wouldn’t be for sale without a string of failed careers (including a miserable stint for the postal service) across three countries. The book in question is called Hunting Sketches, and it’s a wonderfully illustrated 1933 imprint of the original, written in 1865. The author is Anthony Trollope (1815-1882).

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Anthony Trollope, Esqre. Illustration by Robert Ball.

Today, Trollope is recognized as one of the most prolific novelists of the Victorian era, but he took a long path to get there. His parents were of the gentry, but Trollope’s father, a barrister, did not have the money to support the gentlemanly lifestyle. After losing his law practice and failing as a farmer, the Trollope family relocated to Belgium to avoid debtors prison. At 19 years old, Anthony worked for some time as a tutor and flirted with joining the cavalry before returning to London to work as a clerk in the General Post Office.

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The 19th Century headquarters of the General Post Office in St. Martins-le-Grand in the City of London. Antique steel engraved print by Thomas Hosmer Shepherd (1793-1864).

It wasn’t a good fit. Trollope was consistently late to work, surly and unhappy, and didn’t get along with his supervisors. He later described his time there as “neither creditable to myself nor useful to the public service.” Facing deepening debts, however, Trollope remained at the Post Office, feeling he had no other choice but to continue working.

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Trollope praises John Leech as a man with “an eye… for the man who hunts and doesn’t like it.”

Trollope’s fortunes changed in 1841, when a postal inspector in Ireland was discharged. The position was widely considered undesirable, but Trollope volunteered for the job. Eager to move Trollope out of the General Post Office, his supervisors approved him and Trollope was off to Ireland.

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This edition of Hunting Sketches contains many illustrations by Robert Ball, and an introduction by James Boyd, MFH.

Trollope found almost immediately that Ireland agreed with him. Not only could his civil service stipend go much further in the economically depressed Irish countryside, but he appears to have gotten along well with the people as well. With a more comfortable living, Trollope began foxhunting and continued to do so for much of the rest of his life.

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Trollope’s Hunting Sketches consists of essays about many different aspects of hunting in the mid 19th Century.

Trollope’s new job was heavy on travel, and he spent much of his time on trains in writing his novels. The rest, as they say, is history. In 1865, Trollope wrote his Hunting Sketches, a mild, witty, and insightful look into hunting and its popular reception during Trollope’s time. Because Trollope endured years of failure at a postal worker, we have his observations available to us today. You can read more about participation in the NSLM Annual Auction by viewing the catalog.


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’m a notoriously slow reader, which is unusual for my profession. Regardless, I’m only about a third of the way through Heads Up – Heels Down, by C. W. Anderson. Thus far, I’m impressed by how much the theme of cooperation dominates the text. A modern guide to riding puts on stark view how far equestrian practice has come: the rider must work with the horse and the horse’s physiology, psychology, attitudes, and other traits. A clear contrast from the harsh or cruel practices found in our rare books from the 17th and 18th Centuries!

I don’t exactly know what I expected, but Anderson has a very wise way of putting his lessons. He has a straightforward tone to some very sensible practices, and he raises points that are new concepts to the neophyte. I selected some quotes from the book that I found to be particularly wise, and some of Anderson’s own beautiful illustrations to match.

“A horse that is willing and eager will always be an enjoyable ride, and his spirit alone can offset a sickle hock. … If your horse does all that is asked of him and is anxious to do more, he is a good horse regardless of his conformation.”

“If you have a good, understanding man for a groom, your horse belongs much more to him than to you.”

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Good and bad riding form. Anderson makes several references to forward riding, a (relatively) recent innovation for the United States when the book was published in 1944. A major element of the forward system is cooperation with a horse’s natural postures to assist the horse while riding or jumping.

“[A] horse that fights the bit can be quite a problem, for he usually raises his head until it is out of reach. Often such a horse will become very well-behaved about it if he is rewarded for taking the bit. The first few times you must show him the sugar or carrot and give it to him immediately after he takes the bit, even if unwillingly. As soon as he realizes that the reward always comes after the bit is in his mouth, he will hurry the matter in order to get it. Although we should never bribe a horse to keep him from misbehaving, it does no harm to reward him for doing something that is nether pleasant nor natural to him.”

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Cross-tying for grooming. A recurring point from Anderson is that if you make the horse comfortable and at ease, he will return the investment with interest by making your duties easier.

“Even from a selfish viewpoint it will pay you to notice where your horse is most sensitive and to be as gentle as possible when cleaning him there, for a fussy horse can make grooming quite a chore.”

“When working on a horse, move leisurely, speak to him often, and be sure he sees you at all times. He will start, jump, or shy when he sees something unexpectedly. This is not cowardice, as people who dislike horses have claimed, but a nervous reaction inherited from the days when all horses were wild and any moving thing might indicate an enemy. So be careful to avoid making any sudden or abrupt move.”

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The frontispiece of the book. Anderson’s pencil captures shadow so well it first looked like a photograph when I saw the page!

“A horse’s mind is much like that of a small child, and an idea must be very simple and direct for him to understand. Either punishment or reward must come immediately, at the time of the misdemeanor or good behavior, to be effective. Do not get into the habit of bribing him indiscriminately, or he will become a regular bully and demand a reward for everything.”

More reflections to come as I continue to read (quite slowly). In between chapters this week you will find me at the 2nd Annual Spotlight on Stewardship Equine Land Management Symposium followed by our free Open Late Concert featuring the Piedmont Symphony Orchestra. Hope to see you there!


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

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.

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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)?

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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.

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“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.\

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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.

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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

This is the second in a series of four guest posts by 2016 Daniels Fellow Martha Wolfe. Martha’s 2016 Fellowship focused on studying The Life of an American Sportsman: Being Reminiscences by Harry Worcerster Smith, an unpublished autobiography. Many fascinating things came out of NSLM’s extensive archive collection of Smith’s papers, including today’s highlight, The Grafton Long Jump.

Harry Worcester Smith was an inventor. He held dozens of patents associated with the cotton weaving industry where he worked as a mill owner and patent expert until he retired in his forties to foxhunt and live the life of a sportsman. But his retirement from industry didn’t mean that he retired his brain from invention. Take, for instance, “The Grafton Long Jump.”

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“Grafton Long Jump,” a pamphlet in the Harry Worcester Smith Archive Collection (MC0041), National Sporting Library & Museum.

“For many years at Lordvale,” he writes, referring to his country estate in Grafton, Massachusetts, just outside Worcester, “I had been trying to work out a method to teach my steeplechasers and hunters to jump over a distance of ground so that when they met a ditch, brook or water jump, they would cover it.”

Well, anyone who has approached a ditch or a brook or a strange (to a young horse) looking gap in the ground can understand Harry’s inclination toward a better training method.  “A shallow water jump proved useless as they [his horses] soon paid no attention to it; a deep one was difficult to arrange and dangerous, and an open ditch of depth enough to be of service proved still more dangerous.”

Enter the common cardboard box.

“The boxes being white, when the horses are first shown them over the other side of the hedge they take good notice, and when they are put at them they invariably jump cleanly out to 10 or 12 feet.” If your horse happens to be “badly ridden or not taking off just right,” not to worry, he will land amidst the harmless boxes, “which scares them as much as jumping into a melon frame, as the expression of their faces clearly shows, and their wild desire to rid themselves of the boxes, which often times hang about their legs for a few yards.”

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Harry Worcester Smith demonstrating his “Grafton Long Jump,” training method.

It’s easy to picture a horse with a couple of white cardboard boxes up around his fetlocks, trying to get free of the horrible things; the boxes would soon be shredded and come off safely.  “In using the long jump [training method] for five years,” Harry assures his readers, “no hunter has ever been hurt.”

Harry had such great success with his long-jump invention that he published a white paper and sent it to his sporting friends “around the world, believing that perhaps it will be a benefit not only to many who wish to train their horses to jump a distance but also as a clean-cut sporting contest at Exhibitions and Hippiques.”

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Crompton Smith Sr., father of the famous jockey, “Tommy” Smith, jumps Nattie Bumppo over cardboard boxes to demonstrate the long jump.

Never satisfied with simplicity, Harry took his show on the road. June, 1914, in front of twenty thousand people at the Fall River Horse Show, “we had a cracking Long Jump contest” with Peter Roche winning, jumping twenty-four feet. At the Barre [MA] fair in 1912, Harry and friends took his “crack” hunters Success, Sir Ritchie and The Cad over the same span three abreast. (Ok, that’s about as long as my living room!)

Of course this is no big deal for you eventers and show jumpers out there. It’s the method in the madness that piqued Harry’s imagination and made his Grafton Long Jump a good bet “For the Sake of Sport in America.”


Martha_webMartha Wolfe is an independent scholar, author, and three-time John H. Daniels Fellow at the National Sporting Library & Museum. Her most recent book is The Great Hound Match of 1905, chronicling the hunting competition between A. Henry Higginson and Harry Worcester Smith. Read more about Martha and her research at www.marthawolfe.net.

Today we’re highlighting Pictures of Life & Character (volume one of five), by John Leech (1817-1864). Leech was a prominent caricaturist and illustrator in 19th Century Britain, and was widely regarded for his humorous and political cartoons in the comic magazine Punch.

Rather Severe. "Shall I 'old your 'orse, sir?"
Rather Severe.
“Shall I ‘old your ‘orse, sir?”

Pictures of Life & Character is an undated collection of Leech’s cartoons from Punch. Most of them are satirical commentary on social or political events, and quite a few are simply jocular. We’ve focused today on the sporting cartoons in the first volume.

Tableau -- Representing Mr. Briggs out for a day's rabbit-shooting.
Tableau — Representing Mr. Briggs out for a day’s rabbit-shooting.

Leech’s subjects often dealt with the sporting culture of his time, and he also illustrated many of the humorous sporting novels of his contemporary, R. S. Surtees (1805-1864). Many of the sporting cartoons in Pictures of Life & Character focus on the misadventures of Mr. Briggs, an enthusiastic (but ultimately incompetent) sportsman.

Pleasures of Horsekeeping. The frost goes, and Mr. Briggs's horse is disagreeably fresh after his long rest. He sets up his back and squeaks and plunges at everything he meets.
Pleasures of Horsekeeping.
The frost goes, and Mr. Briggs’s horse is disagreeably fresh after his long rest. He sets up his back and squeaks and plunges at everything he meets.
Our friend Briggs contemplates a day's fishing.
Our friend Briggs contemplates a day’s fishing.
Mr. Briggs, on his way to the "Metropolitan Steeple chase," tries whether his horse is a good one across country. He is represented riding at a brook (!).
Mr. Briggs, on his way to the “Metropolitan Steeple chase,” tries whether his horse is a good one across country. He is represented riding at a brook (!).
Mr. Briggs, not being good at his "fences," goes through the performance of opening a gate.
Mr. Briggs, not being good at his “fences,” goes through the performance of opening a gate.
Mr. Briggs Grouse Shooting. 9 a.m., his arrival on the moor. Mr. Briggs says that the fine bracing air makes him so vigorous that he shall never be beat. He also facetiously remarks that he is on "his native health," and that his "name is MacGregor!" The result of the Day's Sport will be communicated by Electric Telegraph.
Mr. Briggs Grouse Shooting.
9 a.m., his arrival on the moor. Mr. Briggs says that the fine bracing air makes him so vigorous that he shall never be beat. He also facetiously remarks that he is on “his native health,” and that his “name is MacGregor!”
The result of the Day’s Sport will be communicated by Electric Telegraph.

12 a.m. [noon], total prostration of Mr. Briggs.
12 a.m. [noon], total prostration of Mr. Briggs.
Thank you for reading along with us this year! Drawing Covert has been a huge success; we’ve received over 11,000 visits since we launched the blog one year ago. We wish all our readers a happy and peaceful holiday season and we’ll be back to look at more books next week.

Fletcher Harper, MFH (1874-1963) was Master of the Orange County Hunt for 33 seasons, from 1920 to 1953. In 1900, the Hunt was originally organized in and named for Orange County, New York, but was relocated to Fauquier County, Virginia, in 1903. A set of Orange County Hunting Diaries from 1936 to 1969 are held in the NSLM archives.

Fletcher Harper, MFH, National Sporting Library & Museum Photographs Collection.
Fletcher Harper, MFH, National Sporting Library & Museum Photographs Collection.

Mr. Harper was married to Harriet Wadsworth (1881-1975), whose father, James W. Wadsworth was cousin of William Austin Wadsworth, the Master and founder of the famous Genesee Valley Hunt in New York. Mrs. Harper rode sidesaddle on the off side, due to an injury.

Mrs. Fletcher Harper, photograph by Ira Haas, NY. National Sporting Library & Museum photographs collection.
Mrs. Fletcher Harper, photograph by Ira Haas, NY. National Sporting Library & Museum Photographs Collection.

Together, the Harpers worked tirelessly to open the land around The Plains, Virginia to foxhunting. Fletcher became renowned as a thorough and attentive Master, carefully repairing all damage to property from hunts and keeping in close contact with the farming community. Mr. Harper is generally credited with putting Orange County on the map as a premiere American hunt.

“For the past seven years Mr. Harper has carried on the traditions of the Hunt in the most able manner, his tact and great charm working wonders with those landowners who were sometimes difficult to deal with. Mr. Harper found that the greatest evil with which he had to contend was wire, and this difficulty he has successfully combated by paneling the country in some places and putting in ‘chicken coops’ in others, until he now has as rideable a territory as could be wished for.”

From Hunting in the United States and Canada, by A. Henry Higginson and Julian Ingersoll Chamberlain, 1928.

Along with George L. Ohrstrom, Sr., Alexander Mackay-Smith, and Lester Karow, Harper founded the National Sporting Library in 1954 as a public resource on equestrian and field sports. Mr. Harper served as President of NSL from its founding in 1956 until his death in 1963. In 1972, Mrs. Harper donated a painting of Mr. Harper to the NSL. This painting is a study for a finished portrait completed in 1931.

Ellen Gertrude Emmett Rand (American, 1875-1941) Study for Portrait of Fletcher Harper (1874-1963), c. 1931, oil on canvas, 45 x 34 ½ inches. National Sporting Library & Museum, gift of Mrs. Fletcher Harper, 1972.
Ellen Gertrude Emmett Rand (American, 1875-1941) Study for Portrait of Fletcher Harper (1874-1963), c. 1931, oil on canvas, 45 x 34 ½ inches. National Sporting Library & Museum, gift of Mrs. Fletcher Harper, 1972.

The artist, Ellen Emmett Rand, was an accomplished portrait painter who studied at The Art Students League of New York with William Merritt Chase and Kenyon Cox. She is known for her portraits of artists, writers, socialites and politicians, including President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Fletcher Harper Memorial Trophy: Foxhunters Timber Race, sterling silver, diameter: 12 inches, Collection of Orange County Hounds, on loan to the National Sporting Library & Museum
Fletcher Harper Memorial Trophy: Foxhunters Timber Race, sterling silver, diameter: 12 inches, Collection of Orange County Hounds, on loan to the National Sporting Library & Museum

After his retirement as Master, Harper assisted Orange County in its hound breeding program until his death in 1963. He and Harriet are buried at the Georgetown Cemetery, Church of Our Savior, Broad Run, Virginia.