The playing rules of lawn tennis as adopted by the United States National Lawn Tennis Association. Tennis.

The Origins of Modern Tennis and the USLTA

The playing rules of lawn tennis as adopted by the United States National Lawn Tennis Association.

New York: Peck & Snyder, 1886.

22; [42] pp. Illustrated with diagrams and wood engravings. 1 vols. 16mo. The Origins of Modern Tennis and the USLTA. Original beige printed wrappers. Small inkspot on upper cover, small chips from spine, otherwise an excellent copy of a rare, fragile, and important work Phelps & Sabine, p. 203; Racquet and Tennis Club, Dictionary Catalogue (1970) 2:414; OCLC (3 copies: Yale, St. Johns, and NY Public). Item #249568

A fascinating glimpse into the early days of a a sport just getting organized in the United States, The United States National Lawn Tennis Association was founded in 1881 at the Fifth Avenue Hotel in New York City, by a group of young players who wished to standardize the rules of the game and promote the sport (later, in 1920, “National” was dropped and the organization became simply the USLTA). The Rules they adopted eventually became a standard reference for aficionados of the fledgling sport.
All early editions of the Rules of the game are quite rare, including this 1886 printing, and they can be divided into two groups of titles: those using "Official Rules” and those using "Playing Rules”.
According to Phelps & Sabine, editions of the THE OFFICIAL LAWN TENNIS RULES, AS ADOPTED etc., appeared in 1881 (Philadelphia, Lippincott) and 1882 (Boston, Wright & Dixon); but no copies of either of these editions is to be found in OCLC, which lists, however editions of 1885 and 1889 under that title.
Also following Phelps & Sabine, THE PLAYING RULES AS ADOPTED, etc., was first published in New York in 1884 by Peck & Snyder. OCLC finds only one copy of that edition (Brown University); Phelps & Sabine also refer to editions of 1886 (this) and 1889 -- however, no copy of the 1886 edition is described. OCLC locates 3 copies: at St. Johns, Yale, and NY Public. The Racquet and Tennis CLub Library also holds a copy.

The first section contains “The Laws of Lawn Tennis” and “The Constitution and By-Laws” of the fledgling Association, with a section on “Cases and Decisions” by James Wright; the second section contains the “Rules of Umpires”, a discussion of various rackets and balls (Peck & Snyder, manufacturers), and illustrated ads for footwear, lawn markers, nets, tennis paraphernalia, etc. Finally, there is a list of over 40 Clubs belonging to the Association, including the “Cheynenne Lawn Tennis Club” in Wyoming, with 50 members.

Copies of any of these USLTA incunabula are quite rare, and when found, quite fragile.

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