Collectors lured by rare Victorian angling guide

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An early and extremely rare copy of one of the definitive guides to angling could make tens of thousands of pounds when it goes under the hammer at a Cotswolds antiques auction in the autumn.

The copy of William Blacker’s Art of Angling, and Complete System of Fly Making, and Dying of Colours is being sold at Moore Allen & Innocent’s Selected Picture and Book Auction in Cirencester on Friday, October 25.

This book is already generating considerable interest among collectors. And anyone interested in acquiring the book will be able to examine it when it goes on display at the firm’s Sporting Sale on Friday, August 30.

The book’s author was a prominent fishing tackle dealer in Dean Street, Soho and an accomplished angler whose revolutionary methods made the book a key work in the history of fly fishing.

In common with other early editions of the tome, the book is enclosed in a leather wallet in the style of an angler’s fly pouch.

And the 48-page book is illustrated with plates and actual flies and fly tying specimens, which are attached to the pages with silk thread and silver seals. No two copies of these early versions are the same.

But what makes this version rarer still is that it is self-published – Blacker’s publisher was George Nichols of London – and printed by Howlett & Son in Frith Street, Soho – a short distance from Blacker’s shop – in March 1842.

Auctioneer Philip Allwood said: “First editions of Blacker’s Art of Angling were printed in London and Edinburgh, but we can find reference to no other example of this work being printed by Howlett & Son.

“Add to this the fact that this volume has been self-published, and what we could have on our hands is a first impression of the first edition of this definitive guide to angling and fly making, a book so invaluable to anglers that it is still in print 171 years after it was first published.”

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