London: Baily Brothers, 1845. Item #02782
"The Only Colour Plate Book Prior to 1850 Devoted to Cricket"
[WANOSTROCHT, Nicholas "Felix"]. [WATTS, George Frederick, illustrator]. Felix on the Bat; Being a Scientific Inquiry into the Use of the Cricket Bat; Together with the History and Use of the Catapulta. Also, the Laws of Cricket, as Revised by the Marylebone Club 1845. London: Baily Brothers, 1845.
First edition. Small quarto (9 7/16 x 7 1/4 in; 239 x 184 mm). , 40, [1, Addenda], [1, blank], [6, catalog] pp. Frontispiece and six hand-colored lithographed plates, three black and white plates (two lithographed), eight black and white text illustrations. Initials.
Publisher's original green cloth with blindstampd borders and gilt vignette and title within blindstamped wreath. All edges gilt. With the armorial bookplate of Walter B. Bartelott. Spine mildly sunned, a few marks, still a wonderful copy.
Only nine copies on institutional holdings worldwide. "The only colour plate book prior to 1850 devoted to cricket" (Abbey). Reprinted 1850, 1855, and 1962.
Of particular note is the frontispiece, a visual pun on the title featuring Felix flying over a landscape while standing on the back of a bat with its wings spread.
Nicholas "Felix" Wanostrocht (1804-1876 at Wimborne Minster, Dorset) was a noted English amateur cricketer. He was one of the few players who - at his request - was routinely known by his nickname, which was in effect a pseudonym. When his father died in 1824 he had inherited the running of his school, aged only nineteen, and he was afraid that the parents of pupils might think that cricket was too frivolous a pastime for a schoolmaster. He was a specialist left-handed batsman, though he did occasionally bowl underarm slow left-arm orthodox. Felix was rated very highly by his contemporaries. He also invented the Catapulta (a bowling machine) as well as India-rubber batting gloves. He was also a classical scholar, musician, linguist, inventor, writer and artist.
George Frederick Watts (1817-1904) was a historical and portrait painter. He entered the Royal Academy school in 1835 and first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1837. His career was slow to start, his work was not popular with critics or the public, and he did not gain recognition until the 1880s.
Abbey, Life 396. Cf. National Book League "Cricket" 108.