Hunting By Ear

Hunting By Ear (U.K.) / 1937

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Design: Simple, careful typography, typeset in non-display typefaces, and cleanly printed in gold on a solid blue background. The title 'The Horn' etc. is set in Gill Sans, a monoline font with classical proportions but lacking the style's traditional serifs, which was designed in 1928 by Eric Gill, a lettercutter in stone, whose very British-looking designs remain popular to this day.

History: Manufactured by Parlophone for the publishing house of Witherby. Label scan courtesy of musicologist and collector Bill Dean-Myatt of the U.K., who writes: "This record was made to help foxhunters identify the meaning of calls on the hunting horn." Publisher Harry Forbes Witherby (1873-1943), whose name appears above the spindle hole, was a noted ornithologist and naturalist who in 1907 founded the (still active) British Birds magazine and in 1938 published an authoritative multi-volume set titled The Handbook of British Birds.

Another name to appear is that of Ludwig Koch (1881-1974). Born in Germany to Jewish parents, he was given a gramophone as a young boy, and soon became intensely interested in sound recording techniques; in 1889 he made the first-ever recordings of bird song. As his fame increased, one of his supportive admirers was Hermann Göring of Nazi fame, who was also a keen naturalist. However, in 1936 Koch fled to England, soon to become associated with the Witherby publishing house, for whom he created the first-ever collated "sound-books" of British bird song. Then, despite of his heavy German accent (to be satirized by comedian Peter Sellers), he went on to become a well-known voice on nature sound recordings for the BBC (above info: Wikipedia).

Foxhunting, for centuries a hallowed rural tradition in England, became subject to increasingly intense opposition by cruelty-against-animals activists in the late 20th century, and was eventually outlawed in the early years of this century.

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