L & T Respess Books has produced their List 305: Sporting Books & Manuscripts. With the exception of a few early baseball items, these aren't pieces pertaining to team sports. They are outdoor sporting activities, primarily hunting, fishing, golf, a few activities related to horses, and a very large selection of moutaineering material. The latter range from the majestic peaks of the Himalayas to the gentler Adirondack 46ers. It's time to get out of the house and climb through the pages of this exciting catalogue.
These days, hundreds of people ascend Mount Everest every year. The list of people range from age 13 to 80, a blind man, various amputees, and those with assorted illnesses. Two people have reached the summit 21 times. And yet, it was not until 1953 that anyone made it to the top. Mountaineering was a minor activity in the 19th century, but blossomed in the 20th. Everest, as the world's tallest peak, soon became the challenge. However, it was not until 1921 that any attempt was made to reach the peak, and that was more of a reconnaissance mission for future expeditions, with a door open to a trek to the summit if a clear route was discovered. Item 82 is an account of the expedition by its leader, Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Howard-Bury, and other participants. The group was able to map potential routes, and sought one for their own ascent, but did not find a feasible route to the top from their location. The account, published in 1922, is titled Mount Everest, the Reconnaissance, 1921. This is number 28 of the 200 large paper copies, with 14 plates not in the regular edition. This reconnaissance led to two follow-up missions in 1922 and 1924, but neither of these reached the summit. Priced at $3,500.
Precursors to the game of baseball have been around for centuries, but it wasn't until the middle of the 19th century that rules similar to the current game developed. In those very early days, Tufts University in Boston featured a few games. Item 10 is a manuscript scorecard from a game in 1865, between the freshman and sophomore classes. It displays an inning-by-inning columnar account, somewhat like you would find today. It was an exciting game, with the sophomore class effecting a comeback with 7 runs in the bottom of the ninth. The final score was 33-30. A pitchers' duel it was not. $750.
This book is not what you will immediately think from seeing its title in a catalogue about sporting books: The Coaching Age, by Stanley Harris. This book has nothing to do with the coaches that lead a ball team. The author explains, "Starting out with our Old Highways... I have proceeded to show how our roads were improved, and the results of such improvement as regarded increased speed in traveling..." Ah ha. It's about our modern highways that let cars zip by at speeds unheard of to an earlier generation. Nope. Not that either. It was published in 1885, when the first automobiles were barely a twinkle in their inventor's eye. These "modern" roads were railroads, used to replace slower horse-drawn carriages, or the "coaches" of the book's title. Harris looks back at the departed coach roads of the old "coaching age." Item 29. $200.
In 1885 there were no automobiles, but just 25 years later, not only were there cars, there were airplanes in the sky. Many of them came to Boston for the Harvard-Boston Aero Meet, September Third to Thirteenth, 1910. Sixty thousands spectators observed the festivities. Item 9 is a program for the meet, with pictures, a double-page map of the airfield, a list of competitive events and prizes, biographies of the pilots, and a short history of flying machines. Professional flyers came from the Curtiss Company and the Wright Company, before they were one. Two more meets were held, with the final one in 1912 being called off after two days when two flyers died after their plane crashed. $500.
Item 31 is "Go Ahead!!" The Crockett Almanac 1839, Containing Adventures, Exploits, Sprees & Scrapes in the West, & Life and Manners in the Backwoods. Published in 1838 in Nashville, this was Davy Crockett's contribution to literature, and the legends of the even Older West. It was filled with stories that were themselves filled with exaggeration. The wrapper depicts Crockett riding on the horns of an elk. Another depicted Judy Finx whipping a catamount with a long snake as she rides home on her tame bear. However, we can't hold Davy accountable for this exaggeration. Crockett died in the Alamo in 1836. His almanac was just too popular for the publishers to allow it to die with him. $4,500.
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