The London Olympics officially open tonight and just this week we’ve digitized a short book on fencing and other sports. The lengthy title of this book seems like it’s in inverse proportion to its diminutive size: How to Fence: containing full instruction for fencing and the use of the broadsword also instruction in archery, described with twenty-one practical illustrations. A complete book. And that’s not even all there is in the book!
At just about 60 pages, this “complete book” includes instructions for fencing (p. 5), archery (p. 43), hurdle racing (p. 57), pole-vaulting (p. 58), hammer throwing (p. 59), and shot put (p. 60). The “practical illustrations” only appear in the fencing section, however, so you must use your imagination for the other sports (or perhaps watch some Olympic athletes in the next few days).
This book was part of a collection of extremely fragile late-19th- and early-20th-century publications that we recently found in a forgotten corner of the library basement, where they would have been destined for the trash if we hadn’t saved them. Many of these publications are extremely rare and have not been digitized elsewhere, so we are excited to be preserving and sharing them. Among these books are short plays, humorous anecdotes, and “dime novels.” We’ll be posting more about some of these titles as we digitize them and Demian will be adding some to our ongoing Project Gutenberg proofreading project, so stay tuned for more!
P.S.: For more Olympic spirit, you can read about Villanova athletes in the Olympics in our digitized collection of The Villanovan. For instance, in the 1956 Summer Olympic Games, held in Australia from November 22 to December 8, two Nova track stars (Charley Jenkins and Ron Delany) brought home 3 gold medals — making Villanova track coach “Jumbo” Jim Elliott “the first American college coach to produce two Olympic winners” (p. 1). You can find more articles by searching the Digital Library’s Villanovan collection.