Davis, C. Noel: A HISTORY OF THE SHANGHAI PAPER HUNT CLUB 1863-1930. With Complete Records of Hunts, Hunt Handicaps, Steeplechases and Point-to-Points. Shanghai, 1930. 5, 173 pp. Index. Folding b/w photographic frontispiece, 6 folding maps, numerous photographic illustrations, of which 2 in colour. B/w text drawings, some full page. 28x23 cm. Cloth.
The author was Master of the Shanghai Paper Hunt from 1925 to 1928, with nine wins to his name in the Roll of Honour. The Club had its origins in the disturbed years of the Taiping Rebellion. The first Master was John Markham, British Consul at Shanghai, and the Club rapidly attracted an international membership of keen sportsmen.
After the Taiping rebels had been driven out of the neighbourhood of Shanghai in 1863, the officers stationed there turned to paper-hunting for their entertainment. The sport was a substitute for fox-hunting, and popular amongst regiments in the Crimea and India. Davis explains this unusual sport: 'They rode out on Saturday afternoons, sending away one of their number as fox, who laid the paper, and after a certain start had been give him, the others rode after the fox, and chased him until they caught him... The foxes wore red cowls on their heads and shoulders so that they might be distinguished at a distance.' Although the game appealed enormously to Markham's friends, some of whom had perfected their technique in India, the editor of the North China Herald was at a loss to understand Paper Hunting and wrote a leading article at the height of the 1866 season : 'Among the various proofs of madness which Chinese have daily opportunity of noting against the Anglo-Saxon race, few must appear to them more conclusive than Paper Hunting... For two men to gallop frantically over field and creek... for the mere purpose of scattering bits of paper which others take a delight in following up... is rank madness.'
The game was played on Mongolian ponies, noted for their 'undauntable pluck, staying power', and intelligence. The Mongolian pony is also well able to take care of itself, and it is said that 'the reason why the famous pony of a well-known heavyweight member of the Club has never fallen is that he dare not, for fear of being rolled upon by his rider.'
This is Davis' only publication, written with great charm and a suitable sense of fun. A handsomely produced volume, printed on thick paper, it was no doubt issued for a very limited circulation amongst the Hunt members. The text is delightfully illustrated with amusing and pleasing pen-and-ink scenes from the chase by Edmund Toeg. A most enjoyable and quintessential expatriate Shanghai period piece.
Not in Podeschi's bibliography related to horses and hunting.
Now very rare.
Subjects: Rare Books Shanghai
Available, as of: 13/03/2021
Was item 138 in printed List 200.
Record produced by Hanshan Tang Books, www.hanshan.com.