Thursday, December 27, 2018

Sports in American Public Gardens & Spaces - Sport Fishing

Sport fishing on Public Gardens & Grounds Gardens

By the last quarter of the 18C, some public pleasure gardens & taverns catered solely to the sports-minded on a year round basis. Many sports gardens evolved near the sites of favorite old fishing haunts, some near shoreline taverns which had offered weary sportsmen cooling refreshments for decades.
Genteel Fishing in 18C England -1730 William Hogarth (British artist, 1697–1764) A Fishing Party

Unfortunately I have no 18C images of sport fishing on the American side of the Atlantic, so I must use British images.
Fishing in 18C England - 1750 Francis Popham (1734-1780) by an unknown artist of theBritish School

Sport fishing, or angling, as distinguished from commercial fishing, usually involved using a fishing rod & line & hook rather than large nets. An Egyptian angling scene of about 2000 BC shows figures fishing with rods & lines & nets. A Chinese account of about the 4th century BC refers to fishing with a silk line, a hook made from a needle, & a bamboo rod, using cooked rice as bait. One of man's earliest tools was the predecessor of the fishhook, a gorge.
Fishing in 18C England - 1749 Arthur Devis (English artist, 1712-1787) Portrait of an Unknown Boy Fishing, Possibly Christopher Lethieullier

The practice of attaching the line to a rod, at first probably a stick or tree branch, made it possible to fish from the bank or shore & even to reach over vegetation bordering the water.Our knowledge of the history of sport fishing in England began with the printing of Treatyse of Fysshynge With an Angle (1496).
18C English woodcut

As early as 1704, Pennsylvanian Gabriel Wilkinson recognized the commercial potential of his waterside location and petitioned the Philadelphia Mayor's Court to open a tavern on his property. He argued that since it was "nearly fishing time" there would be a "necessity" for a public tavern "because the fishermen always come ashore at my house."
Fishing in 18C England - English woodcut

The Reverend Mr. Burnaby, who visitedNew York Cityabout 1748, reported: "The amusements are balls and sleighing expeditions in the winter, and in the summer going in parties upon the water and fishing, or making excursions into the country. There are several houses, pleasantly situated up the East River, near New York, where it is common to have turtle feasts. These happen once or twice a week. Thirty or forty gentlemen and ladies, meet and dine together, drink tea in the afternoon, fish and amuse themselves till evening, and then return home in Italian chaises (the fashionable carriage in this and most parts of America), a gentleman and I lady in each chaise."
Fishing in 18C England - 1750 Arthur Devis (English artist, 1712-1787)The Young Waltonian

In 1752, John Watson was keeping the Ferry House on Staten Island. In December of that year "a Whale 45 feet in length ran ashore at Van Buskirk's Point at the entrance of the Kills from our Bay, where, being discovered by People from Staten Island, a number of them went off and Killed him."
Three youth fishing 1754

Mr. Watson states in an advertisement in the New York Gazette of December 11, 1752, that this whale may be seen at his house. This announcement may have induced many to make the trip across the bay to see the whale & add to the profits of John Watson's tavern.
Family Fishing in 18C England - John and Elizabeth Jeffreys and The Children by William Hogarth c 1730

As settlers from England were sailing to the American Atlantic region in the mid-17C, Izaak Walton & Charles Cotton were writing the classic The Compleat Angler; & Col. Robert Venables & Thomas Barker were describing new tackle & methods of fishing. Experiments with material for the line included the use of a gut string (mentioned by diarist Samuel Pepys in 1667) & of a lute string (noted by Robert Venables in 1676).
Teaching the children to fish in 18C England - 1770s Arthur Devis (English artist, 1712-1787) Richard Moretan Esq of Tackley with his nephew and niece John and Susanna Weyland

The early reel consisted of a wooden spool with a metal ring that fitted over the angler's thumb. By 1770, a rod with guides for the line along its length & a reel was in common use. The first true geared reel attached under the rod,where one turn of the handle moved the spool through several revolutions. Such reels became the prototype of the bait-casting reel as devised by two Kentucky watchmakers in the early 1800s.
Family Fishing in 18th-century England - Charles Philips (British artist,1703–1747) The Russell and Revett Families with Fishing Rods

During the 1790s, the proprietor of Spring Gardens in Baltimore, Mr. Fletcher, built a house on the grounds to accommodate fishing parties. These "gardens" were proposed to serve as a place of resort & pleasant retreat for gentlemen who were fond of angling and eager to escape the city and women, who were not invited.
18C English woodcut

Sitting on Maryland waters in the 1790s, Toon's Pleasure Gardens offered tea & liquor as well as fishing & "rural sports" to both ladies and gentlemen. While the gentleman and his lady were fishing in the Baltimore basin, they could sight-see as well. Chelsea or Toon's Pleasure Garden, built around 1790, was situated about two miles down river from Baltimore with a "delightful and captivating" view of the elegant gardens at the country seat of Captain John O'Donnell called Canton. An English traveller visiting Canton in 1799 reported that the house had "a very handsome garden, in great order" as well as a hothouse and a greenhouse.
Family Fishing in 18C England - Arthur Devis (English artist, 1712-1787) The Swaine Family of Fencroft, Cambridgeshire 1749

Toon's Garden also boasted good views of both Baltimore Town & the Chesapeake Bay and was noted for the "salubrity of its air and elegant situation." Contemporaries noted that "during the summer months a great concourse of citizens make excursions by land and water to these Gardens, where every accommodation is provided, with all kinds of refreshments." John Toon advertised in a local newspaper in the spring of 1795, that guests to his garden could watch the "captivating" progress of the building of "the Federal frigate" in nearby David Stodder's shipyard. During this period, Toon was attempting to improve the land access by horse, stage, and foot to his commercial gardens which were originally reached primarily by boat.
18C English woodcut

At Toon's, both ladies and gentlemen were encouraged to try their hand at fishing while enjoying the best of liquors, tea, coffee, & syllabub. Lady anglers did not dress down for the sport; quite to the contrary, they dressed in their finest to spend an afternoon fishing and hoping to be noticed.
Fishing on the water in 18C England - Joseph Farington (British artist, 1747–1821) The Fishing Party

One 18th-century Englishman observed of the female anglers,
Silks of all colors must their aid impart,
And ev'ry fur promote the fisher's art.
So the gay lady, with expensive care,
Borrows the pride of land, of sea, and air;
Furs, pearls, and plumes, the glittering thing displays
Dazels our eyes, and easy hearts betrays.
Edward Smith (18C British artist) An Angling Party

Fishing in 18C England - 1789 George Morland (British artist 1763-1804) A Party Angling

Fishing in 18C England - 1794 Benjamin West (American-born artist, 1738-1820) A Party of Gentlemen fishing from a Punt

1767 August. Carrington Bowles Printed for Robert Sayer, London

AUGUST - The Twelve Months print Carington Bowles (Published by) Robert Dighton 1781 London