Blackers Art of Angling and Complete System of Fly Making and Dying of Colours

28th August 2013

Collectors lured by rare Victorian angling guide

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 later this month.

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, Cirencester on Friday, 25th October and is attracting considerable excitement among collectors.

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.”

First editions of the book have sold for tens of thousands of pounds, while an 1843 extended version – which included 71 flies and specimens – set a world record last year with a hammer price of £187,250.