The Huntington Library in San Marino, CA possesses a rich collection of equine manuscripts, rare books, and horse-racing documentation from the 15th to the 20th century. The collection has an enormous breadth, from classical horsemanship manuals, to studbooks, auction records, equestrian law and clippings from horse-racing periodicals. Made up of over 7,000 volumes, the collection represents the life-long passion of Edward Lasker (1912-1997), a Los Angeles attorney and businessman who bred and raced Thoroughbreds for most of his life. The collection was donated by his widow, Cynthia Lasker, in 2010.
The online finding aid for the manuscripts and rare books in the Edward Lasker Collection documents approximately 1400 rare titles. Some of these present a catalog of the major early works in horsemanship and horse care from classical authors. The earliest work in the collection is an Italian imprint of Liber Marescalciae equorum by Laurentius Rusius from 1489. Rare books from the French classical horsemanship tradition include a translation of the Hippiater of Constantine Porphyrogenitus into French by Jean Massé, the works of Pierre de la Noue, Jean Saunier, and François Robichon de La Guérinière.
The works related to horse racing primarily cover Great Britain and the United States, including stud books and registers, steeplechasing results, and two volumes dealing with horse races at “The Derby,” and “The St. Leger.” A Huntington Verso blog post details the collection’s ties to 20th century California racetracks: “California Conquest“, featuring English and American sporting magazines, racing calendars and works related to equestrian sports personalities. The global breadth of modern horse-racing include texts about Persian, German, Russian, French, Italian, Australian, South American and Asian racing.
The full bibliographic record for the Lasker Collection can be viewed through the Huntington Library Catalog using a Keyword search or a Subject search for “Edward Lasker”.
Playing cards showing scenes at Rancho Santa Anita and its owner, “Lucky” Baldwin (San Francisco: Alverson Comstock, ca. 1895). Matt Stevens, “California Conquest” Verso, The Blog of the Huntington Library, June 5, 2014 .