HOWITT, Samuel (1765-1822)
Orme's Collection of British Field Sports
Guilford: Charles W. Traylen, 1955. Oblong folio. Color offset lithographed title, 20 color offset lithographed plates, and illustrated list of plates.
Publisher's half tan morocco and green cloth covered boards
Facsimile edition of one of the rarest color plate sporting books, in one of the deluze bindings
The plates are from drawings by Samuel Howitt, "genius, artist, sportsman" who concentrated his considerable artistic talents on picturing scenes of horse-racing and hunting in all its aspects. Born in Nottinghamshire, England, Howitt was largely self-taught,"although he must have been helped by his companions George Morland, Thomas Rowlandson and John Raphael Smith. Howitt's watercolours of hunting, shooting and racing have delightful spontaneity. An enthusiastic sportsman himself, he had sufficient family money to paint at first only for his own and his friends pleasure. However, this fortune was quickly dissipated and Howitt moved to London... [He made a living], partly by etching at which he was extremely skilled ... He illustrated Beckford's Thoughts on Hunting, and other books, including Orme's Collection of British Field Sports... The light touch of his pen, the delicacy of his brushwork and his experience of field sports ensured all that he drew was animated and accurate" (Charles Lane British Racing Prints pp.132-133).
Schwerdt also waxes lyrical calling this work "the finest and most important sporting book of the last two centuries." Writing in 1928, he goes on to note that even then this work was "very rare" and records a copy with nine (of ten) original wrappers selling for £2,600 at auction in London. (To put this price into perspective, Scribner's offered a complete set of Audubon's Birds of America for sale for $12,000 [or about £2,400] in 1929).