The Angling Collection of George Miskin – 3rd May 2012

Bloomsbury Auctions is delighted to offer the extraordinary Angling Collection of George Miskin at Bloomsbury House, 24 Maddox Street, London W1 on Thursday 3rd May.

Miskin is not only a passionate angler but also a true collector. Over a period of about 50 years he has lovingly put together a unique, multi disciplined collection of anything to do with fishing that caught his eye from antiquarian books, prints, silver and objects of vertu to jewellery, paintings, ceramics and even Japanese ivories.

He started fishing as a small boy of 13 and his passion expanded from the sport itself, to the sport of hunting for objects depicting it or simply connected with it. ‘It is the hunt, that is the thrill and not the kill, that provides enjoyment for the non competitive recreational angler.’

The Miskin Collection has some choice early accounts of angling which will excite anglers and collectors.

James Chetham’s first edition of the renowned The Angler’s Vade Mecum of 1681 on the art and science of fly-fishing is written from experience with clarity and acerbic wit. First published anonymously in 1681 it is estimated to fetch £1,000-1,500 and it covers every aspect of the sport, from the author’s observations on the most commonly encountered fish, descriptions of the dub-flies needed each month, to an appreciative chapter on roasting, broiling or stewing one's catch suggesting excellent French bread to eat fish with.

Amongst the early general sporting books in the collection is one by Robert Howlett which includes an interesting section on angling: what to fish, when, where, how and with what. Written in 1684 The School of Recreation, or, the gentleman’s tutor to those most ingenious exercises of hunting, racing, hawking, riding, cock-fighting, fowling, fishing, shooting, bowling, tennis, ringing, billiards is estimated to fetch £1,500-2,000.

Another landmark early work is by Thomas Barker, who practised the art of angling for over sixty years and ‘spent many pounds in the gaining of it’; he wrote The Art of Angling: wherein are discovered many rare secrets very necessary to be known by all that delight in that recreation. Written by Thomas Barker, an ancient practitioner in the said art, Bloomsbury Auctions is offering this superb 1653 second edition bound in 18th century red morocco and gilt (estimated £6,000-8,000). At the time of writing his treatise, Barker was living in Westminster and made a living accompanying gentlemen on fishing expeditions, or giving instruction at home in the use of baits and tackle; Barker's remarks on fly-fishing are even quoted in Walton's iconic Compleat Angler (1653).

One of the earliest ‘how to’ books on fly fishing and artificial fly making, is Thomas Best’s A Concise Treatise on the Art of Angling 1787. Regarded as a thoroughly practical treatise on the art of angling, it has an exceptional and unusual binding by J Larkins (estimate £400-600).

Another eminently practical work is Jones's Guide to Norway and Salmon Fisher's Pocket Companion published in London in 1848 (estimated £3,000-4,000). The Jones of the title was a tackle dealer in Jermyn Street in London, who hired Frederic Tolfrey, a famous sporting author of the time, to provide the text; apparently neither had ever set foot in Norway but gleaned information from Jones’s well travelled customers. The Guide was very popular in its day and is still regarded by many as the ultimate collector's book due to its extreme rarity, delightful text and beautiful illustrations.

Miskin collected two works by Joseph Crawhall, a businessman, angler and patron of the arts from the Newcastle area. A Collection of Right Merrie Garlands for North Country Anglers, 1864 is one of 50 large-paper copies profusely illustrated with charming drawings of fish, angling and river bank scenes some of which are humorous. This is estimated £1,000-1,500 while the 1873 Chaplets from Croquet-side is one of 100 copies and is expected to fetch £300-400. A seminal work which has become a classic on north country fishing of the minnow, the creeper and the stonefly is Yorkshire Trout Flies, 1885 by TE Pritt who was not only a keen angler but also editor of the Yorkshire Post. This first edition is one of only 200 copies and is estimated at £400-600. Another classic on chalk stream fishing was written in 1924, the golden age of angling on the Test. John Waller Hills’ A Summer On The Test, is a first edition signed by the author and is number 88 of 325 copies; it is regarded by many as the best book on chalk stream fishing ever written (estimate £500-700).

Societies and clubs are also well represented in the Miskin Collection. Frederic Halford, for example, was a very successful Birmingham businessman and founder of the prestigious gentleman’s The British Flyfishers Club. However it is for the development and promotion of the dry fly technique on English chalk streams that he is best remembered. Known as the ‘high priest of the dry fly’ or ‘the father of modern dry fly fishing’ Halford’s pseudonym was Detached Badger. In 1886 he published Floating Flies and How to Dress Them which is one of only 150 copies of his first book and it is expected to fetch £800-1,200.

Pseudonyms were very common in the late 19th and early 20th century especially amongst the angling fraternity. In 1887 ‘William O'Ye West’ (the pseudonym for W. Forsyth), published A Lay of Lochleven, which he dedicated to members of the St Mungo Angling Club, one of the premier clubs of its kind in Scotland; the work even included portraits of several members (£150-200). Amongst the other Scottish works is a first edition of Songs and Selections from the Album of the Edinburgh Angling Club founded 1847, 1900. The club is still in existence and this collection of verse with attractive engravings, is estimated £100-150. Another Scottish first edition from this period which embraces fishing experiences with beautiful engravings of the rugged landscape of Scotland, is Angling and Art in Scotland, 1908 by the author and watercolourist Ernest E Briggs. It is inscribed To H.D.B.Anderson, his favourite ghillie and is estimated £200-300.

Ireland is particularly well represented in the George Miskin Collection. The Angling Excursions of Gregory Greendrake, Esq., 1832 (the pseudonym for J Coad) is dedicated to ‘all honest brothers of the angle.’ This is the fourth and first complete edition and covers the counties of Wicklow, Meath, Westmeath, Longford and Cavan, with additions by Geoffrey Greydrake (estimate £300-400). The rare first edition The Erne, its Legends and its Fly Fishing, 1851 by The Reverend Henry Newland is packed with fascinating anecdotes, snippets of history, folk lore and fairy tales and of course the fishing experiences of the author and his friends. He wrote of the entomology and the ichthyography of his beloved Erne which he called ‘the best fisherman’s river in Ireland.’ In charming, wistful language the Reverend writes of his days spent at numerous fishing landmarks including Lough Melvin, Lough Derg and the Falls of Ballyshannon and intersperses his angling musings with recipes such as roasting salmon, the weather, precautions against quarrelling and even the effects of a scalding sun. This scarce work on the famous Erne is estimated £400-600.

It is the eclectic nature of the Angling Collection of George Miskin which makes it unique. Although a large proportion consists of antiquarian books, he snapped up whatever caught his eye which had a fishing connection. Particularly unexpected is the intricately carved Japanese ivory okimono of a fisherman. Dating from the Meiji era (1868-1912), the period when Japan first opened its doors to the West, this finely carved group is estimated £600-800. Amongst the jewellery is an American reverse crystal intaglio bracelet, probably by Sloan & Co, Newark (estimate £1,000-1,500). Gentlemen might be more interested in the late Victorian silver and enamel vesta case depicting a large salmon by John Millward Banks, Chester 1900 which is expected to fetch in the region of £600-800; or the handsome silver stirrup cup, modelled as a salmon head and made by Asprey & Co in 1965 also estimated £600-800. Yet another medium covered in this unusual collection is ceramics, such as the Worcester transfer-printed mug with ‘Whitton Anglers’ and ‘La Diseuse D’Aventure’ patterns of circa 1770 which is estimated at £600-800. Particularly striking amongst the paintings is the large signed oil on canvas Sport from Loch & Moor by Henry Maurice Page RA (estimate £3,000-5,000).

The Angling Collection of George Miskin will be offered for sale at Bloomsbury Auctions, 24 Maddox Street, London W1S 1PP on Thursday 3rd May.

However, highlights from the Miskin Collection will be on view in the Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions Pavilion at Newbury Racecourse on Friday 20th and Saturday 21st April. Dreweatts and Bloomsbury Auctions are proud to be sponsoring The Dreweatts 1759 Handicap Stakes at Newbury Racecourse on Friday 20th April as part of the Dubai Duty Free Sprint Trials Weekend.

To view a fully illustrated online catalogue please click here.

For a printed copy please contact Poppy Walker, tel: 020 7495 9494 or email:

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For further specialist information please contact: Rupert Powell, tel: 020 7495 9494 or email:

For press information please contact: Vanessa Clewes Salmon, tel: 020 8458 3288

Bloomsbury Auctions - 19 April 2012