All About Collecting Old Archery/Bowhunting Books



The Basics
Gene's Top Bowhunting/Archery Books of All Time?
Grading of Books
Glossary of Book Collecting Terms



The Basics of Collecting Archery Books

Books?  Why would someone who loves things as simple as a stick and a string, the sound of an arrow hissing through the air, or the smells of rotting leaves in the fall, care so much about something like a book?  After all, wasn't it because of books that we were kept inside doing our homework when we should have been outside enjoying nature's bounty?

Well, like most things, I have a theory about this: There most certainly is something in the chemistry of a bowhunter which demands that we love sitting around a campfire and spinning tales with hunting companions.  It is something that we simply can't resist.  Tale telling is oftentimes as important as the hunt itself.  If this is not so, then why is it that we continue to hunt in areas that we haven't seen an animal for days or weeks, just as long as we have a good hunting partner to share the time with?  

Even during the off-season in the archery and pro-shops you can find bowhunters standing together, "jawing" over tales of hunts past and dreaming of hunts yet to take place.  Of course, we bowhunters know why this is - We know that it is the attraction of the experience, the opportunity to "bond" with those who share these same interests as we do that make the campfires so special.

Maybe this explains a bowhunter's fascination with books.  Think about it for a moment - How many times have you dreamed of having the opportunity to share a campfire with someone of historical significance, one of your heroes?  Someone like Fred Bear, or Howard Hill, or Glenn St. Charles?  What if only for a few days you could live this dream of hunting with this person, of walking the mountains in search of game, or sitting around the campfire listening to their own stories of hunts gone by?  How much would that experience be worth to you?   Many of us would trade the family farm for this opportunity, right? 

Well, it is my humble opinion that this is exactly what draws archers and bowhunters to love the books that these great bowhunters have written.  It is through their books that we have the chance to share the experiences of sitting around their campfires, smelling the smoke from the logs, feeling the heat on our frozen feet.  Or to feel the excitement they felt when they loosed an arrow at a grizzly bear from only 10 yards away.  Books allow us to transcend time, to "hunt" with someone that we never knew personally, but whom we can get to know through the simple act of them having written their feelings and experiences to paper long, long ago.


 How Do I Find A List Of Books To Look For?

Actually, this is more easily accomplished than you might think.  In fact, it is much easier than trying to find out what bows were made at what time. This is because there are some great reference materials which can be used in your search for books on archery and bowhunting.  Among the best are the Bibliography of Archery by Lake & Wright (1974), and Compendium of Works on Archery by Clement Parker (1950).  Although both of these books are also considered collectible in their own right, both can be found using the book search services found on the Internet.  Expect to pay between $75 and $125 for the Lake & Wright.  I found a Compendium on the Net just a few weeks ago for $35, but this was a steal.  There were only 300 of these books printed, and I would normally expect to see this book sell for at least $100.

Hint: The Lake & Wright Bibliography of Archery was re-published a few years ago in the Derrydale Series.  You can pick these books up on the second hand market for under $35 in most cases.

Use internet Search engines: Go to the search feature of your browser software, and enter "Book Collecting." Look through the results of your search.  You will find literally dozens of matches on sites that will educate you about book collecting, but also which will offer Book Search services.  Many of these services will allow you to search by Author, by Title, or by Subject.  Try them, there is no cost  or obligation. 

Hint: I gave this secret away in the last column, but just in case you missed it, here is the address of one of my favorite Book Search sites: WWW.BIBLIOFIND.COM

Another great way to find books is to simply call the local used book store in your town, or in the closest larger town.  Most of these stores offer book search services for their customers.  You can simply give them a list of the books that you are looking for, and then let them do the work.  This is their business, and most of them are good at it.   Given time and patience, they have a good chance of finding your book.  That is until you reach a point where you begin looking for the truly rare pieces, then you will find many a roadblock.  If this were not true, then the book would not be rare, now would it?

Of  course, don't discount finding other Archery book collectors and calling or writing them to inquire as to what titles they may have for trade.  Most serious collectors keep some good books for trade at all times, just in case someone comes along with a book that they need for their collection.



What Do I Look For In A Book?

Just as in any other collecting hobby, you should try to accumulate the best of the best that you can find or afford.  What determines what is best?  I would recommend that you concentrate on finding First Editions when at all possible.  You can use your Lake & Wright Bibliography, if you have one, to determine when a book was first published.  But there is another way to do this if you know how.  If you simply open the book to the inside of the first page or two, there will be the publisher's name, address, and at least one date printed on that page.  Usually, this page will tell you what Printing, and what Edition the book is. 

Hint:  You need to understand just exactly what is meant by First Edition and First Printing.  See the Glossary of Book Collecting Terms at the end of this article.

However not all Publishers made this so easy.  You may need to use a little logic to determine the Edition and Printing.  If the book shows more than one date, the earliest date is usually the date of First Edition, the second earliest date is the date of the Second Edition, and the last date is the date of the book that you are looking at.  Printings are oftentimes shown as a series of numbers at the bottom of the page.  For example, it might state bluntly "First Printing", or it might be a little more obscure and have a series of numbers.  The dates are Editions, the numbers are Printings. 


How Do I Value A Book?

Remember from our last column "Collecting - Getting Started", value is based upon how much someone is willing to pay for an item and NOT necessarily what someone is asking for it.  I have paid what some would consider too much for some items only because I really wanted that item, and sometimes I have passed on items that were probably underprices in most opinions because I did not need it or want it at the time. 

However, we need a place to start with regard to relative value, right? Well, I would suggest that the best place of all is right here on the Internet.  If you will simply print off the list of several book sellers every now and then, it won't be long until you have a list of what these sellers consider to be the value of the books that they are selling.  This works great for those books that show up fairly often in these lists.  But what about those "special" books, like Yahi Archery by Pope for example, that may only show up once in a lifetime on the book search sites?  How much would this book be worth?  Well, in these cases you are going to have to dig down deep inside your soul to determine "What is it worth to me and my collection".  Of course you are also going to need to compare your answer to that question with the balance in your checkbook.  Then you can decide what the book is really worth, and that is what you are willing to pay for it.


What Is A First Edition?

Book collectors generally key on the editions that were the first to be printed of a title.  These are called, as you might guess, First Editions. The first printing of a new book, using the first set of plates, is called a First Printing.  First Editions can have more than one Printing. 

Hint:  To better understand Priority, Printings, and Editions, see definitions of these terms at the end of this section.. 

Archery collectors highly prize First Editions.  Printings are much less known by the typical collector, and therefore not quite as seriously sought after.  But they should be.  In reality, a serious collector should look for First Edition, First Printings.  


Example:  A good example of what I mean by the previous statement is shown with Maurice Thompson's Alice of Old Vincennes.  There are many Printings available of this title in the First Edition, with most worth only $10 or so.  But a First Printing of the First Edition is very scarce and demand as much as $100 each.  Learn to watch for PRINTINGS!


Edition ----- All of the copies of a book that were printed from the same plates.  For example, if 1000 copies of a book were printed from a set of plates on January 1, 1930 and then  another 500 were printed using the same plates on August 1, 1930, then these are both from the same edition, but different Printings. 

Printing ----- the copies of the book that all originated from the same press run, using the same plates.   For example, in the definition of "Edition" above, the 1000 copies would be the first printing and the 500 copies would be known as the second printing.

First Edition ----- All of the copies printed from the first setting of type; can include multiple printings if all are from the same setting of type. Every printed book has a first edition, many never have later editions. A later edition would have substantial changes in the printing plates or type such as the addition of a new preface or new chapter or major changes throughout the text and often is printed from a complete resetting of the type. When book collectors use the term first edition, they are usually referring to the first printing and if there are different states or issues, the earliest of those.

Issue ----- a change within a single printing which occurs after some copies of that printing have been released from the publisher and are in circulation. Example : the correction of an error by removing the offending page and carefully tipping-in (usually gluing to the stub of the excised page) a replacement page.

State ----- a change made within a single printing prior to any circulation. Example : a pressman discovers battered or broken type, stops the presses and resets that portion of the page by replacing the broken type and then resumes the printing.

Variants -differences in bindings or end papers Example : One variant may have a title stamped on the front cover in black and another may be stamped in blue.

The Top Bowhunting Books of All Time?

Wow, what a way to start an argument among archery book collectors!  I have never been one to run from a good "discussion", so here are my nominations for the top 10 archery/bowhunting books of all time.  I make these nominations not because of rarity or value, but because these are the 10 books that I would consider "Must Have" books in any serious collector's library, and because these are the 10 books that you simply must read at some point in your life or you will have missed out on a wonderful experience.


Gene's Top 10 Archery Books - Selected by Criteria of a Wonderful Reading Experience (Title, Author, First Ed. Date, estimated cost of a First Edition)


 1  The Witchery of Archery by Maurice Thompson (1878) $200-300 (The 1879 second edition is actually harder to find)
 2 Hunting With The Bow & Arrow by Dr. Saxton Pope (1923) $125-150
 3 Adventurous Bowmen by Dr. Saxton Pope (1926) $125-175
 4 Sagittarius by Bob Swinehart (1970) $175-225
 5 Hunting The Hard Way by Howard Hill (1953) $65-85
 6 Field Notes by Fred Bear (1976) $30-40
 7 Lions In The Path by Stewart Edward White (1926) $75-100 (must be read immediately after completing Pope's Adventurous Bowmen.  This story is of the same trip to Africa, but as written by White, an experienced rifle hunter as opposed to Pope's book written in the eyes of a bowhunter) 
 8 Wild Adventure by Howard Hill (1954)  $35-60
 9 Archery by Dr. Robert Elmer (1926)  $50-80
 10 Archer in Africa by Wm. Negley (1989) $175-250


Gene's Top 10 Archery Books - Selected by Criteria of Historical Significance, Scarcity, & Value (Title, Author, First Ed. Date, estimated cost of a First Edition)

 1 The Witchery of Archery by Maurice Thompson (1878) $200-300
 2 Hunting With The Bow & Arrow by Dr. Saxton Pope (1923) $125-150
 3 Adventurous Bowmen by Dr. Saxton Pope (1926) $125-175
 4 Sagittarius by Bob Swinehart (1970) $175-225
 5 Yahi Archery by Dr. Saxton Pope (1918) $Good Luck
 6 How To Train In Archery by Maurice Thompson (1879) $Good Luck
 7 Essay on Archery by Mosely (1792)  $200-300
 8 Archery, It's Theory & Practice by Horace Ford (1856)  $175-225
 9 Study of Bows & Arrows by Dr. Saxton Pope (1923 Softcover and 1930 Hardcover) $125-175 for hardcover, if you find a softcover just call me!
 10 American Archery by N.A.A. & Dr. Robert Elmer (1917) $150-175


*Of course there are many other books of more monetary value, but if you combine value with historical significance these books get my vote.


Up To A Real Challenge?

So you are feeling up to a real challenge?   If you can complete the following sets in your book collection, you will have accomplished something probably akin to a Grand Slam of Sheep in bowhunting.  No kidding.

Try to complete a collection of books written by Dr. Saxton Pope.  Dr. Pope wrote a total of 5 books during his career which are of interest to archery collectors.  There are very few collectors with a complete set of these 5 books.  The books are:

1. Yahi Archery (1918)
2. Medical History of Ishi (1920)
3. Study of Bows & Arrows (Softcover edition of 1923, hardbound edition of 1930)
4. Hunting With The Bow & Arrow (1923) 5. Adventurous Bowmen (1926)


Maybe you think that one was too easy? 

How about trying to put together a collection of all the books that Maurice Thompson, regarded by many as the man responsible for popularizing archery in the late 1800's, wrote during his career?  There are 27 books which Maurice wrote from his first in 1875 (Hoosier Mosaics) through his last and most successful (Alice of Old Vincennes) in 1901.  I know of no one who has been able to compile a complete collection of these works.  But it is possible if someone is willing to put forth the effort and commitment.  The best Thompson collection that I am aware of is 4 books shy of completion.

Book Title Publication Date
Hoosier Mosaics Thompson 1875
Witchery of Archery Thompson 1878
How To Train In Archery Thompson 1879
A Tallahassee Girl Thompson 1882
Songs of Fair Weather Thompson 1883
His Second Campaign Thompson 1883
Claude's Big Trout Thompson 1884
A Red Headed Family Thompson 1885
Byways & Bird Notes Thompson 1885
A Banker of Bankersville Thompson 1886
The Boys Book of Sports 1886
Sylvan Secrets Thompson 1887
Sunshine & Song Thompson 1887
The Story of Louisiana 1888
A Fortnight of Folly 1888
Indiana Geology & Natural History Thompson 1888
My First Voyage Thompson 1890
Lorel Hasardour Thompson 1892
A Shadow of Love Thompson 1892
Poems 1892
The King of Honey Island 1892
The Ethics of Literary Art Thompson 1893
Lincoln's Grave Thompson 1894
The King of Honey Island Thompson 1896
Stories of the Cherokee Hills 1898
My Winter Garden Thompson 1900
Alice of Old Vincennes Thompson 1901
Millie, At Love's Extremes Thompson 1901
Genius & Morality Thompson 1901
Rosalynd's Lovers Thompson 1901
Sweetheart Manette Thompson 1901


Ephemera - What Is It & Is It Part Of Book Collecting?

If you are going to get serious into Book Collecting it won't be long before you hear the term "Ephemera".  For example, in some book lists, you will see "Archery Books and Ephemera" listed as a topic.

What the heck is Ephemera, you ask?  Very simply put, ephemera is any paper product that is not in book form.  This would include magazines, catalogs, pamphlets, calendars, etc

Where did the term ephemera come from?  - The term originates from the insect known as the Mayfly.  The Mayfly only has an adult life span of one or two days.  Because of this very brief life (as an adult) the Mayflies classified in the insect family Ephemeridae, which comes from the Greek word ephemeros (meaning daily or approximately a day). The Greek word for the mayfly actually is "ephemeron".  Therefore any printed material intended to have a short-term usefulness can be referred to as ephemeral.



Which brings us to another subject for another column, another day..... Archery Magazines. 

As always, remember my slogan as taught to me by my greatest mentor, Glen St. Charles: "No matter what you saw, I saw it first!"

Good Collecting, Gene


Grading of Books

Fine - For a recent book, the condition should be almost "like new" with only very, very minor signs of use, no noticeable wear or rubbing, no fading of the spine, no dog-eared page corners - nothing missing - no missing end papers or dust jacket.  The dust jacket must be separately described. 

If an older book, (turn of the century or before) slightly more signs of usage are tolerated, but still a well-cared-for, fresh looking book.  Very minor rubbing and fading of cloth or color of boards are tolerated, but no cracked hinges.  Ex-Library copies can never be graded as Fine.

Very Good - A recent book should show only minor rubbing at book extremities such as corners or spine.  There might possibly be very minor soil spots on covers, possibly a bumped corner, but no fraying of spine extremities, no cracked hinges, no foxing - nothing missing - no missing end papers. Basically, this book should show just a little more evidence of use than a fine copy. If the book is from the 19th century or earlier, then minor rubbing of extremities is expected, but no chipping (missing material) at top or bottom of spine, no signs of major fraying of cloth, no cracked hinges or cracked joints are allowed.  Minor spots of soil or stain and occasional foxing is expected - but nothing should be missing, no missing end paper or half-title. Ex-Library copies can be graded very good, but should be  described as such. Generally speaking, ex-library copies are not nearly as desirable, even in this condition, for your collection.

Good - Any book showing average use and wear, but not in need of a replacement binding.  The book should not be tattered & torn, and should not show heavy damp stains.  Basically the book should still be intact but worn, spine extremities can show minor chipping, corners can all be bumped, and in the case of an earlier book a free end paper, or other blank page such as a flyleaf, can be missing, and a hinge can be cracked.  There can be moderate to heavy foxing in earlier books, but a good copy should be a book that has seen average/considerable use. 

Fair - A book with much use and wear and multiple problems and/or defects. Unless the book is very scarce or rare, a "Fair" book  probably should not be added to your collection. This book may exhibit moderate to heavy dampstains, or foxing in the text, along with a very tattered cloth or very scuffed and rubbed leather binding. Additional problems such as underlining in the text, missing end papers, cracked hinges, heavy dogearring of page corners, etc. Not a desirable copy for your collection unless you value content much more than condition

Reading copy - A book in poor condition.  Also used to describe a copy with excessive wear and/or abuse which does not warrant rebinding and is simply useful for the content it contains.



Glossary of Book Collecting Terms

Dampstain ----- stain resulting from water or other liquid damage to a book, its presence does lower the monetary value

Deckle edge ----- natural or sometimes artificial rough edge of page, left uncut

Disbound ----- a book or pamphlet or ephemera which has been removed from its binding

Dust jacket ----- the paper, often with illustrations and information about the book, used as a protective covering over the book; sometimes called a book jacket (dj) or a dust wrapper (dw).  In some earlier Archery titles (pre-1950's), it is very uncommon to find a book that still has it's  Dust Jacket.

Dust wrapper ----- (see above definition of dust jacket)

End paper ----- paper, often of coated stock or marbled paper or otherwise "fancy" paper, with one half pasted to the cover; used primarily to give a finished appearance to the binding

Ex-library ----- legitimately removed from an institutional library, such as a public library, university library, historical society, etc. Often has catalog numbers inked or painted on the spine, library bookplates, embossed or rubber-stamped identification on the title page and plates. Referred to as "ex-lib" and of considerably lower monetary value than the respective book which has never been the property of an institutional library

Ex-libris ---- a Latin phrase meaning "from the books" or to paraphrase, "from the library or collection of"; the phrase is frequently used on bookplates.  For example "From the library of Fred Bear".

Foxing ----- rust colored spots which occur on paper resulting from oxidation processes apparently caused by certain mold fungi - there is no visible evidence of mold, only brown to rusty brown spots on the paper

Frontispiece ----- an illustration or plate inserted immediately in front of the title page, with the illustration facing the title page, often abbreviated as frontis.

Gathering ----- a folded printed sheet of leaves prior to binding; referred to as a signature after binding

Half title ----- a page which precedes the title page and the text.

Hinge ----- The inside portion of the flexible area where book cover meets the book spine; often used interchangeably with the term joint, which should be used to designate the outside or exterior portion of the "hinge".


Inscribed ----- a book, or other printed piece, with a handwritten and signed statement usually written for a specific named person(s) and often located on the end paper or title page.  When used to designate the recipients of a book as a gift from the author (or publisher), it is called a "presentation inscription".

Leaf (leaves) ----- refers to the smallest, standard physical unit of paper in a printed piece; in the case of books and pamphlets, usually with a printed page on each side of a leaf; a broadside is printed on a single side of a single leaf.

Marbled edges ----- usually the top, bottom and fore edge of a book with a multi-colored, swirled-design, somewhat resembling the coloration pattern of marble stone.

n.d. ----- this abbreviation means "no date" provided in the imprint.

n.p. ----- "no place" of publication provided in the imprint.

Out-of-print ----- no longer available from the publisher (o.p. or op).

Plate ----- an illustration(s) printed on a separate sheet of paper (usually heavy and better quality than the text pages) and added to the book during the binding process.

Presentation copy ----- a copy of a printed item inscribed and signed by the author (or publisher) and provided as a gift; see "inscribed".

Rebacked ----- the spine or backstrip has been replaced with new material, in some cases the original worn backstrip is saved and glued over the new material.

Rebound ----- copy of a book which has had the original binding removed and a new binding attached; when there is no need to resew or trim the book, the term "recased" is sometimes used to indicate that a new binding and new end papers have been added.

Shaken ----- indicates that sections (signatures) of a book or pamphlet are becoming quite loose, but remain attached to the binding.

Signature --- a group or gathering of leaves printed together on a sheet of paper which is folded, bound with other signatures and trimmed to form a book or pamphlet.

Signed ----- refers to a printed item on which the author (or illustrator or publisher) has written their name, usually on the end papers, title page, or in the case of pamphlets on the wrappers .

Slipcase ----- a box with one open side, into which a volume or a multi-volume set is "slipped" for protection; publishers often issue a slipcase with two and three volume sets.

Spine ----- the back portion of a book's binding which is visible when a book is shelved in a bookcase; the portion which is attached at the joints to the front and rear covers.

Uncut ----- refers to the edges of a book in an untrimmed state, edges are somewhat uneven, also see "Deckle edges".

Unopened ----- a book with signatures which have never been cut as opposed to untrimmed and uneven (see "Uncut"); unopened books retain the folds of the original gathering and contain many pages which cannot be read without first opening the pages with a knife.

Wrappers ----- abbreviated as "wraps", wrappers are the paper covers of a pamphlet, often of a paper of heavier weight than the text paper; when you see "wrappers" you know the item is not a hard bound book, but is instead a pamphlet or magazine with paper covers. Usually not used to refer to 20th century paperback books which are called "soft bound" (with paper covers).


Collecting - Getting Started
The Basics of Collecting Archery Books
Broadhead Collecting - As Easy As ABCC
Magazine Collecting
Collecting Items of the Bear Archery Company
Collecting Easton Archery Items
Collecting Bear Kodiaks

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