An Introductory Course of Modern Gymnastic Exercises. ROLAND, George. [ ] [Hardcover]


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FIRST EDITION. 5 plates. Contemp. full brown calf, triple ruled gilt borders, additional elaborate blind borders, gilt spine; rubbed & sl. marked, but a pleasing copy of a scarce book. Inscription on leading blank: ‘Grange Gymnastic Class, 3rd Division, 2nd prize, Stobart, 26th Sept. 1835’. BL, Oxford, Leeds and Liverpool only on Copac. George Roland was the son of the French-born fencing master and writer Joseph Roland. Continuing his father’s work he moved to Edinburgh to become the fencing master and superintendent of gymnastics in the Royal Academy. He was appointed professor of arms at the Scottish Naval and Military Academy and in 1823 issued A Treatise on the Theory and Practice of the Art of Fencing, ‘the first manual of fence to be illustrated by lithographic engravings’ (ODNB). Roland outlines a brief history of gymnastic exercises in his introduction, and records his definition of gymnastics as ‘those preparatory exercises performed with the aid of poles, bars and triangles. They give the student the most perfect command over his whole body. They are thus the best preparatives for the elegant and manly accomplishments of fencing with the small or broadsword, and other active exercises’. Although not signed by Roland, it would appear likely that this was presented by Roland to a class or student taught by him. A copy in the Bodleian is also inscribed to the ‘Grange Gymnastic Class’ and dated 1844.

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