Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - October - 2007 Issue

Sporting Books from James Cummins Bookseller

Cummins99

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.

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