GUTSMUTHS, JOHANN CHRISTOPH FRIEDRICH. 1759-1839. Spiele zur Uebung und Erholung des Koerpers und Geistes, fuer die Jugend.... Schnepfenthal: Erziehungsanstalt, 1796.
8vo (170 x 108 mm). xvi, 484, pp. 4 engraved plates. Period speckled boards. Lacking subscribers list, last 4 text leaves plus index; frontispiece present only in facsimile, small inkstamp to title, extremities worn.
Provenance: Th. Maguis (ownership inscription); Serendipity Books.
FIRST EDITION; AN 18TH CENTURY DESCRIPTION OF BASEBALL. Gutsmuths was a pioneer of physical education and gymnastics. In this compendium of games and sports he describes 15 different types of ballgame, including Thorball, Schnurball, Fangball, and Prellball. Most importantly he devotes nearly seven pages to "englische Base-ball," the forerunner to American baseball played from at least 1750 by the schoolchildren of Britain. Gutsmuths also describes in detail "das deutsche-englische Ballspiel" (also known as ballstock) a cousin of English baseball played in Europe until the early 20th century. "Gutsmuths's documentation of the game is an important contribution to baseball history, because it is the strongest surviving evidence of an ancient family of European ball games that may have influcenced the inception of baseball in England" (David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, 2005, p 182). The first description of rounders or any other baseball-like game did not appear in English until 1828. See also The Dickson Baseball Dictionary, 2011.