The Art of Skating
By George Anderson (“Cyclos”)
Besides loving skates, I also love books. Skating books from the 19th century are a passion.
While trying to get “inspiration” for both the newsletter and the presentation I am making in Old Sturbridge Village in February, I started looking through my library of skating books. I picked up The Art of Skating by “Cyclos”.
George Anderson (“Cyclos”), was the Vice-President of the Crystal Palace Skating Club, and was also President of the Glasgow Skating Club in Scotland. The book was designed to provide directions and diagrams for skating figures, but the first two chapters, for me, are the most interesting.
My very favorite passage in the book tells about a Canadian settler who went out on a moonlit night to enjoy his fond pastime of skating:
The moon shone with unusual splendor, rendering more faint the brilliancy of the myriads of stars, which, in so clear an atmosphere, shone like diamond points, deep set in the interminable blue.
The ever-varying aurora-borealis, so magnificent in that climate, would ever and anon come shooting up from the horizon in crescents, and columns, and domes of many-colored light, till the whole zenith would become splendidly irradiated, and the ear could connect with the flashes “a sound as of silken banners shaken in the wind;” these shapes changing as suddenly to narrow streamers, and thin flakes of shooting and floating light, ever brightening, ever darkening.
The ice was smooth and clear, and reflected in its motionless the radiance of the heavens…
This chapter also discusses outside “covered rinks” in Canada. It gives insight to the way people felt about skaters in London vs. Scotland vs. Canada.
The second chapter describes the various skates available at the time. One of the things I found interesting is that “Cyclos”, when writing about boot skates said that it was no new invention and that he found it advertised fully a century before (this edition of his book was written in 1880) which would be 1780?
The new invented half-boot skait, sold by the inventor, Mr. James, No. 14, Newgate Street and by Thomas Olio Rickman, No. 7 Upper Mary-le-bone-street. Price one guinea and a–half.
The book is available as a re-print online, a few original copies are out there, but the cheapest route is Google books, where you may download it for free.