A unique reminder of an extraordinary sporting prodigy

Master Charles BROWN ( “Young Nimrod”, “Champion wing and rifle shot of the world”).

Not before April 1883.

Price: $1,750.00

About the item

An original ‘front-of-house’ board (visible area: 30.5 x 22.5 inches), with seven cabinet-sized albumen print photographs (visible area: 5 x 3.5 inches). 1 vols. Frame size 34 x 26. A unique reminder of an extraordinary sporting prodigy. Oak frame over matted board, with seven openings for photographs. Photos somewhat faded, the card mat soiled.

Item #264695

An original ‘front-of-house’ board with calligraphic manuscript text in red and black ink ‘Mastr. C Brown / (“Young Nimrod”) / Champion Wing And / Rifle Shot of the World / as he appeared before / H.R.H. the /Prince of Wales / Prince Christian / and / various Members / of the / Royal Family.’, the board acting as a custom matt for seven cabinet-sized albumen print photographs of Master Brown in uniform or in shooting kit, all with gun in hand, two with an accompanying gundog.

It is not possible to be certain, but this ‘board’ looks like it was used in the lobby of a venue where ‘Young Nimrod’ was appearing, possibly doubling as the ‘card’ which was used to identify his ‘act’ as he performed on stage. In any case it is a remarkable survivor from the age of P T Barnum, Buffalo Bill and Annie Oakley, and a reminder of a time when the borders between sport, theatre and spectacle were blurred to the delight of appreciative audiences in the UK, Europe and the US.

In addition to showing great natural talent, Charles Brown also had the advantage of being the son Thomas Brown, the proprietor of the South London Shooting Ground at Nunhead. By the time he was eight, ‘Youing Nimrod’ was already shooting to a very high standard (see below for some of his most memorable scores). The Prince of Wales, a keen shot, was an occasional visitor to Nunhead and on the 3rd April 1882, at the Royal Aquarium, Westminster, Master C. Brown gave an exhibition of glass ball shooting before the Prince and his guests: this is probably the occasion referred to on the present board.

A contemporary account of ‘Young Nimrod is given by Basil Tozer: “Last but not least comes Master Charles Brown, of Nunhead, alias “Young Nimrod,” a boy not yet in his teens, but who may fairly be termed the juvenile champion wing-shot of the world… Young Nimrod began shooting at the early age of seven, and has from the time of his first essay made wonderful progress in the art. His name is well known in connection with shooting, and he is frequently a topic of conversation at pigeon shooting reunions. The guns employed are of small caliber, i.e., double and single 20, 24, and 28 bores, thereby making his performances all the more creditable. He was greatly eulogised upon his skill by H.R.H. the Prince of Wales, before whom he gave an exhibition in glass ball shooting some years ago. Annexed are some of Young Nimrod’s best scores:

First match at pigeons, shot at Nunhead on December 18th, 1882. To kill 34 blue rocks [i.e.rock-doves] out of 50 with a 28-bore gun, at 15 yards rise… A strong wind favoured the birds, rendering the task an extremely difficult one… Second match, shot at Dawlish, South Devon, on the 28th December following. To accomplish the same feat under similar conditions…

It may here be well to remind the reader that Young Nimrod was at this time but eight years of age. His next performance worthy of note took place on January 25th, 1883. This was an attempt to shoot 70 pigeions out of 100, at 18 yards rise and 80 fall, using his 28-bore Greener … This he achieved in splendid style… He again backed himself to reapeat the same at the Union Club, Hendon, on the 2nd April 1883, and actually grassed 75 of Hammond’s blue rocks out of the century, 61 of which were killed with the first barrel. These figures speak for themselves, and the boy’s unerring aim, added to his cool, calm demeanour whilst shooting, would do credit to any veteran sportsman – not to mention a child of nine… His expertness with the rifle is equally laudable. Young Nimrod’s finest performance took place at Nunhead on 25 May, 1885, when he broke 1047 glass balls in one hour, the first hundred being disposed of in six minutes fifty seconds. The guns employed were two 24-bores and a 20-bore. In February 1883 he undertook to shoot 420 double rises out of 600, at the Agricutural Hall, on three consecutive days. This he accomplished by destroying 513 out of the 600 in double shots… In the same year he scored 88 “ kills” out of 100 clay pigeons. On the 2nd March 1884 Master Brown was tasked by his father to pierce 60 wooden balls out of 100 with a .380-bore rifle, standing at ten yards rise, the balls were thrown up by hand in front of him… Total… 83 out 100” (Basil TOZER. Practical Hints on Shooting. London: 1887, pp. 358-360, & p.377) Litt: J.H. JONES "Young Nimrod." Being a brief sketch of the life of C. Brown. (London: 1884).