A Swedish Offprint On Rowing

On 20 July, I wrote about Ducker McLean’s pamphlet Oarsmanship, which thanks to good detective work by HTBS reader Malcolm Cook could be nailed down to The Encyclopaedia of Sport which was published in 1898. The following day, 21 July, HTBS’s Tim Koch posted an interesting piece about rowing pamphlets.

Technically, I believe that McLean’s Oarsmanship is not a pamphlet per se, but instead a so called offprint, which is ‘a separately printed article that originally appeared in a larger publication’. Nowadays, printed offprints are rare in the publishing business, instead you can probably read them on the web!

In my little collection of rowing books I have an offprint in Swedish about the sport of rowing. A famous encyclopedia in Sweden is Nordisk Familjebok, which first edition was published in 1876-1899, which was followed by a couple of more editions. During 1937 and 1949, a beautiful 7-volume (4,000 pages) sports encyclopedia was published by Nordisk Familjebok. The section about rowing, which was written by head editor of the encylopedia, Åke Svahn, and published in 1943. The offprint, Roddsport, is 40-page long article with very nice illustrations in black/white (remember this is during the 1940; and I am also a little surprised that the publishing company managed to get hold of that much paper to print this during World War II!).

Not surprisingly, Åke Svahn was deeply involved with rowing in Sweden. A year later, in 1944, when the Swedish Rowing Association celebrated the Association’s first 40 years – it took the Swedish oarsmen a long time to get organised – Svahn together with Sten Thunvik published a brilliant work on rowing in Sweden, which actually goes beyond the history of rowing in Sweden. It is a pity that En Bok Om Rodd [A Book On Rowing] is written in a minor language, otherwise it would be regarded as a major work in the literature on rowing. The easiest way to try to explain its greatness is to call the book a Swedish version of Chris Dodd’s The Story of World Rowing.

More entries on rowing pamphlets will follow.

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