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Cassell’s Book of the Horse, by S. Sidney, 1879-81

October 25, 2011


The full title of Cassell’s Book of the Horse is The Book of the Horse: (Thorough-bred, Half-bred, Cart-bred), Saddle and Harness, British and Foreign, with Hints on Horsemanship; The Management of the Stable; Breeding, Breaking, and Training for the Road, the Park, and the Field. This is the oldest book in this collection of books on horses and horse racing, dated on the spine 1879-81, and written by  Samuel Sidney (S. Sidney). Throughout this 604 page book are beautiful, vibrant, “full-page coloured” illustrations of horses, which you can also find reprinted and framed various places online. Nothing is quite as good as the images in the book though, which are amazing still, especially given their age. There are also numerous beautiful wood engravings throughout.


Contents include 29 chapters on everything from estimates of annual expenses of a carriage and horses and the origin of the modern british horse to horsemanship, or the art of “equitation,” stable clothing, fodder, and work, and hunting. Other chapters discuss breeding , breaking and training, and veterinary information.

The book was published by Cassell Petter and Galpin at Belle Sauvage Works in London. John Cassell founded the British publishing company, putting out its first publication on July 1, 1848, and it remained in existence in one form or another until it was taken over by the Orion Publishing Group in 1998.


The book’s binding and cover is part brown leather and part green and brown marbleized paper, and there is no dust jacket. Someone wrote “Samuel” in pencil above the S. Sidney on the title page. I doubt it is a signature of any kind. I do not know if this is the original cover, or if it is, the book appears to have new endpapers. It looks like the inner part of the book is intact. There are some spots (probably foxing) at the beginning and end of the book. The beautiful illustrations throughout seem mostly in good condition, with vibrant colors, although the one across from the title page has some spots. Most have a tissue inserted to protect them.

If you’d like more information about this rare book, please leave a comment or contact me at Previewing this post, I see how great the illustrations look, and I might take some more photographs of the beautiful illustrations and post them later.

  1. caela gargan permalink

    I have a copy of this but with a blue cover??
    Cant seem to dig out any details on it.

    • Hi, Caela – I am out of town right now, on a little break, away from the books. I do know that the copy I have has had its cover replaced and has new endsheets. Perhaps your has the original cover. Do you have any idea? I did a little research on this book and will do some more soon. It is hard to find details, I agree. Thanks for your message. Maybe I’ll have more info soon.

    • Hi, Caela – I saw a picture of your book with the blue cover. It looks like it is from 1983. When I’m trying to find information on a book, I often look at ViaLibri, which allows you to search on your book title and brings up seller offerings, some with detailed information and photographs. Maybe it would be helpful for you to look at that website too. Today at least, there is a listing for Cassell’s Book of the Horse by Sidney with a photograph of the blue cover.

  2. Lola Sandvik permalink

    I have this book with the original cover: rust color back ground with black detail, gold title and horse. I am looking into seeing if I should have it restored, not sure how it would effect the value.

    • Hi – Thanks for your comment. The original rust-colored cover looks really nice. I’ve talked to book sellers about how restoring a book might affect its value. One I spoke to said that collectors typically want books in ‘very good’ condition or better (include ‘like new,’ ‘nearly fine,’ etc.). Depending on how much restoration you’re talking about, it seems like it might help with value, though if someone has any thoughts on this, please comment.
      As for book values, one website that is helpful is viaLibri. Some of the Book of the Horse books for sale say they have been restored. Good luck!

  3. Robert permalink

    I own an original book . Ivd owned it for a long time. Red moroccan bound. In two minds to get it restored. Plus vetenary section. Book has 672 pages.

  4. Catherine M permalink

    I too have a copy of ”this” book, but mine is undated- it has a leather spine tooled and marked on a deep red part ”BOOK of THE HORSE s.sidney” there is a blue/darkblue/maroon patterned swirly front and rear cover, and leather corners. The same decorative blodgy paper [done by oils on water?] is inside the front and rear of the book as well- sadly, there is some foxing, but no date whatsoever. the first plate in colour is ”State carriage horse”. As the book has one plate missing, I got it for £150, from a specialist sports book dealer, but they didn’t know the exact date either.Wonder why some books were bound, and others have a printed cover? I don’t know if £150 was way too much- I have a modern copy with B/W illustrations, bought cheaply from a remainder bookshop which has brown paper already! [bought new in 1989]- the original has a lovely feel, and the lithographs are beautiful. What is a good way of preventing further foxing damage, or is it inevitable once it has begun? all the best, Catherine UK

  5. Catherine M permalink

    P.S my copy has 604 numbered pages.

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