Badminton Library; Sword Fencing of 1893; A Fabulous Group of Eight Framed 19thC Photogravures of Fencing Positions

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Origin: English
Period: Late Victorian
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1893
In Frames: 8.75” wide x 7.25” high (each with one in portrait form)

Hailing from “The Badminton Library of Sports and Pastimes” by Walter H. Pollock, E. B. Michell, and Walter Armstrong, and Published in 1893 in London, the group of eight photogravures, one being in portrait, the others in landscape form, each showing gentlemen in period fencing attire and marked with a fencing position, now professionally framed with ivory mounts and presented glazed in contemporary black frames.

The photogravures are in very decorative and unrestored condition with none of them being in perfect order, but all in tact with no rips or tears. There is some light soiling and foxing, please see the photographs for full visual reference. The simple good quality frames are all contemporary and each is glazed.

The eight positions are marked as follows:

-    The Salute; position after disengagement into outside line, Parried by tierce
-    First Position
-    Second Position; en guard
-    Third Position; the lunge or extension
-    Parry in Seconde
-    Parry in Septime
-    Parry in Tierce
-    Time Thrust in Sixte

During the time these photogravures were produced and, as fencing progressed, the combat aspect slowly faded until only the rules of the sport remained. While the fencing taught in the late 19th and early 20th centuries was intended to serve both for competition and the duel (while understanding the differences between the two situations), the type of fencing taught in a modern sport fencing salle is intended only to train the student to compete in the most effective manner within the rules of the sport. The first regularized fencing competition was held at the inaugural Grand Military Tournament and Assault at Arms in 1880, held at the Royal Agricultural Hall, in Islington in June. The Tournament featured a series of competitions between army officers and soldiers. Each bout was fought for five hits and the foils were pointed with black to aid the judges. In the United States, the Amateur Fencers League of America drew up a rulebook for fencing in 1891, in Britain the Amateur Gymnastic & Fencing Association drew up an official set of fencing regulations in 1896, shortly after these prints were created.

The Badminton Library, called in full The Badminton Library of Sports and Pastimes, was a sporting and publishing project conceived and founded by Henry Somerset, 8th Duke of Beaufort (1824–1899). Between 1885 and 1902 it developed into a series of sporting books, which aimed to cover comprehensively all major sports and pastimes. The books were published in London by Longmans, Green & Co and in Boston by Little, Brown & Co and the series was dedicated to His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, "one of the best and keenest sportsmen of our time”.

A photogravure is an intaglio printmaking or photo-mechanical process whereby a copper plate is coated with a light-sensitive gelatin tissue which had been exposed to a film positive, and then etched, resulting in a high quality intaglio print that can reproduce the detail and continuous tones of a photograph.

Hugely effective as an octet; a group that would work well in any number of rooms within the home.

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