[Volume 1] Oriental Field Sports being a complete, detailed, and accurate description of the wild sports of the East and exhibiting, in a novel and interesting manner, the natural history of the elephant, the rhinoceros, the tiger ... and other undomesticated animal

Creator(s):

Date: 1807

Regions:

Topics:

William Tayler served in a British regiment in Bengal and was an avid sportsman while there. After being recalled to England, "Williamson's knowledge of wild life and Oriental sports had come to the notice of the Orme family" (Rohatgi & Parlett). The Orme's contracted with celebrated painter Samuel Howitt to prepare finished watercolours based on Williamson's original sketches during his time in India, and published the work, originally in 20 parts, between 1805 and 1807. The result was "the most beautiful book on Indian sport in existence" (Schwerdt).

The work, however, is not merely a sporting book. As Williamson writes in the Preface, the work "is offered to the public as depicting the Manners, Customs, Scenery, and Costume of a territory now intimately blended with the British Empire, and of such importance to its welfare, as to annex a certain degree of consequence to every publications, that either exhibits, or professes to impart, a knowledge of whatever may hitherto have been concealed, or that remains unfolded to our view." The plates, engraved by H. Merke or J. and Vivares Hamble, display the best of early 19th century color aquatint.

Howitt and Williamson's images are vivid depictions of both the chase and the Indian scenery. Of particular note are the four plates treating elephants, described by Williamson as possessing "the energy of the horse, the sagacity of the dog, and a large portion of the monkey's cunning." The eleven plates devoted to the tiger are each riveting. The work was published to great acclaim. An 1807 issue of The Monthly Review declared: "Much entertainment for the eye, and much information for the mind will be found in this very splendid volume."

The Review continues by lamenting the high cost of the work: "Twenty guineas may be a trifle in Nabob's pocket: but Nabobs are not numerous in England; and we should suppose that the sale of such a work as this cannot be very widely diffused." This no doubt contributed to the work's present-day rarity. This copy is an early issue, with pre-publication watermarks and Tooley's first state of plate XXXI (with the plate captioned "Hunting Jackalls"). The early issues of the work, generally subscriber's copies, are bound from the original parts and contain "the finest impressions of the plates" (Tooley). Subsequent editions, i.e. the second edition of 1808 and the quarto edition of 1819, are considered by Tooley as "inferior."

Additional title produced in eight colors using stencils, letterpress title (verso blank), 1p. dedication to the King (verso blank), pp. [i]-ii preface, pp.1-146 text, pp.147-150 index, 1p. list of plates (verso blank).

40 fine hand-colored aquatint plates by H. Mercke (37), J. Hamble (2) and Vivares (1), all from drawings by Howitt after designs by Williamson.

1 volume, bound from twenty original parts, large oblong folio (18 x 22 inches).

References:

Abbey Travel II, 427; India Observed 93; Mellon, Books on the Horse and Horsemanship 88; Nissen ZBI 4416; Rohatgi & Parlett, pp. 252-254; Schwerdt II, 297; Tooley 508; Bobins I 276.

No images available for this book.

 

Publisher: London : Edward Orme

Language(s):

English

Contributor(s):

Source(s):

ISBN-10: N/A

Date Added: 2019-08-05

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