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Tennis, Lawn Tennis, Rackets, Fives (1890), standard trade edition, decorated brown cloth cover
The founder of the Library, the Duke of Beaufort, acted as its overseeing editor, assisted by Alfred E. T. Watson, and chose authors who were authorities in their fields. Explaining his purpose, the Duke said:
...there is no modern encyclopaedia to which the inexperienced man, who seeks guidance in the practice of various British sports and pastimes, can turn for information".
The Badminton Library was originally published in twenty-eight volumes between 1885 and 1896. To these was later added Rowing & Punting (1898), superseding Boating (1888). New volumes for Athletics (1898) and Football (1899) supplemented the original Athletics and Football (1887). In 1902, the final entirely new volume, Motors and Motor-Driving, covered a new sport, and lastly there was a new edition of Cricket in 1920.
On the combining of athletics and football in a single volume, Mike Huggins says in The Victorians and Sport (2004) that it suggests "...that football's leading place was not yet assured amongst the more literate reading public."
The original volume on Cricket (1888) has sixteen chapters on topics such as 'Batting', 'Bowling', 'Fielding', and 'Umpires'. It defines the Marylebone Cricket Club as "The Parliament of Cricket" and describes the sport as "Our National Game".Allan Gibson Steel wrote the chapter on bowling.
Cycling (1887), by Viscount Bury, notes that riding the tricycle and bicycle, whether by women or by men, "is by far the most recent of all sports in the Badminton Library of Sports and Pastimes. There is none which has developed more rapidly in the last few years." It considers that "England may be looked upon as the Home of Cycling" and quotes Thomas Huxley's words to the Royal Society: "Since the time of Achilles, no improvement had added anything to the speed or strength attainable by the unassisted powers of man", commenting that a bicyclist had recently raced 146 miles in only ten hours.
Laura and Guy Waterman's Yankee Rock & Ice (2002) calls the Badminton Library "a quaint turn-of-the-century British series", while a review of the publication Collectors Guide to the Badminton Library of Sports and Pastimes says of the books:
If the series were to be issued today it might more appropriately be called Sports and Pastimes for the British Aristocrat to more accurately reflect its content.
Two useful series for purposes of comparison are the slightly later American Sportsman's Library and the Lonsdale Library of Sports, Games and Pastimes.
The Badminton Library was published in three different formats:
The standard trade edition: octavo, bound in brown illustrated cloth.
The deluxe edition: octavo, bound in half blue Morocco, gilt titles to the spines and bright orange boards with a gilt coat of arms to the upper board, top page edges gilt.
The large paper deluxe edition: large octavo or quarto, a limited edition of only two hundred and fifty copies, also bound in half blue Morocco and much the same in appearance as the deluxe edition.
The name 'Badminton Library' was derived from that of Duke of Beaufort's principal country house, Badminton in Gloucestershire. There is no volume in the series on the sport of Badminton, named after the same house.
Volume 1: Hunting (1885, by the Duke of Beaufort & Mowbray Morris, with contributions by the 18th Earl of Suffolk, 11th of Berkshire, the Rev. E. W. L. Davies, Digby Collins, Alfred Watson, Sir Marteine Lloyd, George Longman and J.T. Gibbons)
^Waterman, Laura, Waterman, Guy, & Lewis, S. Peter, Yankee Rock & Ice: A History of Climbing in the Northeastern United States (Stackpole Books, 2002, ISBN0-8117-3103-0) page 16 online at books.google.co.uk (accessed 3 April 2008)