Sporting Books from James Cummins Bookseller
Sporting works from James Cummins Bookseller
By Michael Stillman
Catalogue 99 from James Cummins Bookseller is now available. This is a collection of 423 sporting books and ephemeral items. These are generally more genteel sports, angling and big game hunting, rather than smash-mouth human-caged ultimate fighting. Michael Vick and his fighting dogs are nowhere to be found (though there is a book on cock fighting). However, there are some baseball and boxing items available here. Still, angling is the prime sport, but perhaps that's because books have been published on this activity for many centuries. Few currently popular sports have such a pedigree. Here are a few of the fine items you will find in this latest Cummins catalogue.
The catalogue starts with the unusually titled A Quaint Treatise on "Flees, and the Art a' Artyfichall Flee Making," By an Old Man Well Known on the Derbyshire Streams as a First-Class Fly-Fisher a Century Ago, by W.H. Aldam. Make that over two centuries ago as this is an 1875 book. Let's hope that by "flees" he meant flies, rather than fleas, as it would be very difficult to stab a hook into one of those. Cummins notes that this is the rare first issue of this scarce book, the 1876 imprint being far more common. This book includes actual samples of feathers, fishing line, thread and miniature hooks used in making hand-tied flies. Item 1 is a copy inscribed by illustrator James Poole. Priced at $15,000.
Item 109 is the book generally considered the first American book on fishing, Natural History of the Fishes by Jerome Smith, MD. This is a first edition published in 1833. $600.
Item 65 is a scrapbook of cinematographer and bass fisherman extraordinaire Jack Lamb. Lamb, of Fort Worth, Texas, was generally considered the best bass fisherman in the world during the 1930s. Perhaps some of the legends about him are...legendary, but Ripley's said he fished everyday for 17 straight years. He was said to have caught 35,000 bass between 1930-1935, which I calculate to be an average of at least 16 per day. If you think he must have been very fat as a result, he supposedly never ate a fish in his life. He threw them all back. He wrote the book "How to Catch a Game Fish" and did lecture/demonstration tours on behalf of Gulf Oil. Lamb also owned a large collection of movies about cowboys and ranch life. His scrapbook contains around 1,200 pages of clippings, letters, tickets, memorabilia, and over 800 photographs of "...all manner of fishing, ranching, hunting, car crashes, construction workers, cotton field workers and images of the crowds at his lecture and demonstration events, mostly in the Southern states." Thirteen volumes. $4,500.
Sporting Books from James Cummins Bookseller
George Washington as a foxhunter.
Item 143 is a personal African safari photo album. It was kept Max C. Fleischmann, heir to the Fleischmann Yeast fortune. He lived from 1877-1951, with this trip coming around 1907. Max Fleishmann obviously was well off as several of his photo albums are offered, including trips to Alaska and Mongolia. This album is headed, Two Months "On Safari" in British East Africa, primarily in territory now part of Kenya. The album starts with the party crossing the Suez Canal, going down the Ugandan Railway, and on to hunts along the Thika River. Pictures cover the caravan and its porters, gun-bearers, and campsites, lots of wild game, including rhinos, zebra, lions, giraffes and antelope, native warriors and villages, and the trek to Nairobi. The final three dramatic photographs capture a crocodile successfully taking down a rhino along the banks of the Thika. $7,000.
Item 207 consists of six prints from the Derrydale Press of Fathers of American Sport. Printed in 1931, they include people notable long ago in sports such as foxhunting, angling, horse racing, and yachting. However, one man, described as a "foxhunter," will be familiar to all Americans for a different reason. It is a portrait of a young Colonel George Washington. $4,500.
Moving up to the modern era, item 407 is the first issue, volume 1, number 1, of Sports Illustrated, dated August 16, 1954. This included a six-page baseball card fold-out from Topps, with portraits of stars of the day such as Willie Mays, Ted Williams, Jackie Robinson, Duke Snider, Vernon Law, Eddie Matthews, and Ted Kluszewski. $750.
Item 405 is a large assortment of skiing material, including the collection of Gary H. Schwartz, who wrote "Skiing Literature: a bibliographical catalogue." It consists of 1,600 items with books, journals, brochures, photographic albums and catalogues. The oldest book dates to 1558 (Historia de Gentibus Septentrionalibus by Olaus Magnus) as the collection traces skiing from its early days as a means of transportation. However, the main focus is on skiing as sport with works by virtually all of its creators and early commentators. Price on request.
You may visit James Cummins Bookseller at his website, www.jamescummingsbookseller.com, or contact the firm by phone at 212-688-6441.