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Frontispiece - L'Art du duel

"On guard!"

We present a selection of books on fencing and other "swordly" arts. They include instructionals, bibliographies, histories and biographies, from the 19th and 20th centuries. So whether you like the foil, the épée, the sabre or the broadsword, we hope there's something here for you.

Many of these items are illustrated; you can click over to a specific image directly through the links in the descriptions below, or browse them through the Sports and Games Image Gallery.

References are to Carl A. Thimm's A Complete Bibliography of Fencing and Duelling as Practised by All European Nations from the Middle Ages to the Present Day. London: John Lane, The Bodley Head, 1896. First edition.

[Angelo, Henry]. Instructions for the Sword Exercise. London: W. Clowes and Sons, 1840. Second edition. "Selected from Her Majesty's Rules and Regulations and Approved of By Authority, for the Yeomanry Cavalry." 19 pp. text, with 15 full page plates (including frontispiece). Contemporary dull red cloth, simple gilt lettering on front; professionally rebacked; hint of bubbling, very minor sunning. Contents age-toned; very neatly re-hinged; plates lightly foxed. Near fine.

Bertrand, Léon. Cut and Thrust: The Subtlety of the Sabre. London: Athletic Publications, 1927. First edition. "With Introductory Letters from the Earl of Lonsdale and Cav. Uff. Nedo Nadi ... [Profusely] Illustrated with numerous plates from photographs and drawings by M. Pollock Smith." Publisher's orange-red cloth, now much spotted on covers and sunned to tan on spine; gilt-lettering still bright on front, but bronzed on spine; corners bumped. Endpapers tanned. Very good.

Deladrier, Clovis. Modern Fencing: A Comprehensive Manual for the Foil, the Épée, the Sabre. Annapolis, Maryland: United States Naval Institute, 1948 [i.e. 1954]. [Second printing]. Extensively illustrated with instructional photographs. Original dark blue textured boards, lettered and decorated (fencer) in gold, now a bit bronzed, mostly on spine; head and tail a touch rubbed. Endpapers tanned, pages lightly age-toned; pencilled ownership inscription on front free endpaper. A near fine copy.

Dunn, H.A. Colemore. Fencing. London: George Bell & Sons, 1891. Second edition, revised. The All-England Series. "With Illustrations by H.G. Willink, I.C.S.A. (partly from photographs by Messrs. Barraud.)" 10 pp. sporting ads, including endpapers. Publisher's pictorial (fencer in first position) slate-blue cloth, printed in dark blue; a bit dingy, and rubbed at extremities; spine darkened. Endpapers tanned, pages somewhat age-toned; neat ink name on half title; contents a little loose, and starting to crack at pp.48-9, yet still holding firm. A very good, early copy of this classic title, first published in 1889.

Dunn, H.A. Colmore. Fencing. London: George Bell and Sons, 1906. [Later edition]. The All-England Series. "With Illustrations by H.G. Willink, I.C.S.A. (partly from photographs by Messrs. Barraud.)" 8 pp. sporting ads, including endpapers. Publisher's pictorial (fencer in first position) slate blue cloth, printed in black; now soiled overall and rubbed at extremities; light bubbling of cloth; small label at lower front. Hint of cracking to rear hinge; pages lightly toned, with occasional marginal pencil marks or "thumbing". Ex-institutional library copy, with markings ("Withdrawn" bookplate on front pastedown; blind-stamp to t.p. and p. 55/6; date due slip at rear). Very good.

Dunn, H.A. Colmore. Fencing. London: G. Bell and Sons, 1927. [Reprint] The All-England Series. Well illustrated with 17 instructional in-text and full-page figures by H.G. Willink, I.C.S.A., "(partly from photographs by Messrs. Barraud.)" Original dark teal flexible cloth, lettered and decorated (fencer in first position) in black; light fraying at corners and spine ends; faint marks to covers. Slight browning to lower 1" of fore-edge of first few leaves; contents otherwise bright, tight and clean. A near fine copy.

Tavernier, Adolphe. L'Art du Duel. Paris: C. Marpon et E. Flammarion, 1885. [First edition]*. "Préface par Aurélien Scholl". No. 30 of 60 copies (total edition of 500) on Japan paper, with plates in two states, printed in black and brown ("Exemplaires sur papiers du Japon. Avec la double suite de gravures tirées en noir et en bistre.") With author's presentation inscription on half title. Illustrations, both contemporary and historical, by many artists (De Neuville, Jazet, Uzés, Lerat, Blanchon, etc.), most full page (but smaller leaves), some in-text. Red and black marbled paper boards, with red textured paper spine and corners, now rubbed, especially along bottom edge; gilt titling on spine nice and bright. Original decorated wrappers, printed in red and black, bound in; now tanned and dusty. Bookplate; contents clean and tight. (Thimm p.285)
* Thimm dates this first edition 1884, but the title page is dated 1885.
The printing and folding of the sheets in this edition is such that it results in uneven-sized leaves, a technique often used in French fine printing of the period.

The Fencing Bibliography

Thimm, Carl A. A Complete Bibliography of Fencing and Duelling as Practised by All European Nations from the Middle Ages to the Present Day London: John Lane, The Bodley Head, 1896. First edition. Large paper copy. Original decorated (red sword hilt) oatmeal cloth a bit soiled, with gilt-lettered faded red cloth spine; corners and spine ends creased. Hinges partly cracked but strong; plate facing p.153 supplied in facsimile. A very good copy of this essential bibliography, superbly illustrated with many plates.

The bibliography is followed by an extensive subject index, and 100 pages on "Notes on Fencing and Duelling" reprinting various published reports of duels from Shakespeare's time to the late 19th century.

Villa, Georges. Haut les Masques!: 1ère série. Paris: Imp. Crémieu, [n.d., 1924]. [First edition]. Cover title. "Préface et Texte d'Armand Massard, et Roger Ducret." "Édité par Léon Delevoye, Directeur de L'Escrime at le Tir ... Rouen." No.411 of 900 copies (total edition of 1000). Original brown paper four-colour pictorial wrappers with faint creasing, especially to lower front corner; minor wear to spine ends. Endpapers age-toned, otherwise contents clean. A fine copy.
Captioned caricatures of major officers, officials, referees and members of the [Fédération Nationale de l'Escrime?], as well as other European fencing champions, instructors and officials.

Wood, Rev. J.G. Athletic Sports and Recreations for Boys. London: Routledge, 1861. [First edition?]. "Comprising Cricket. Croquet. ... Fencing. Broadsword. ... etc. etc."
Henry Stracey 
Vanity Fair [Vanity Fair prints]. Fencing. Updated as available.

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Wilfrid M. de Freitas - Bookseller
P.O. Box 883, Stock Exchange Tower
Montreal, Canada H4Z 1K2
Last updated: 10/15/15
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