If you love horse racing history, take a look at these photos. Finding free stock photos that depict historic horse racing may be common, but few are artistic pieces from the 1700’s and 1800’s. When working with DerbyCraze.com for 2014 Kentucky Derby news and betting coverage, I often find beautiful antique stock photos about horse racing from the Library of Congress. Arranged below are 15 of my favorites.
“Pacing for a Grand Purse”
1890 chromolithograph by Currier and Ives. The original Library of Congress caption states this is harness racing jockeys going past the judge's stand.
“The False Start, Jerome Park, N.Y.”
1868 hand-colored lithograph by artist William C Robertson. This print is depicting the former Jerome Park horse racing track. The crowd watches on as a couple of the horses have a false start of the race. Jerome Park opened in 1866 in what would later become the Bronx. It closed in October 1894 to allow access to the Jerome Park Reservoir.
“Dexter - Manufactured from the Best Selected Havana Tobacco”
1869 color lithograph print designed for the Dexter Havana Tobacco Company. The original description states that this a jockey in a red "sulky". This style of horse carriage is typically used by harness racers today, but it was once a popular mode of transportation.
“Summer Meeting at Long Branch, N.Y. Start”
Created between 1870 and 1875 by artist Henry Schile, this lithograph print possibly depicts the Old Monmouth Park in Long Branch (not Oceanport), New Jersey. The print shows a horse race with the grandstands in the background and judge's stand in the foreground. When Monmouth Park opened in 1870, it was in Long Branch, New Jersey until it closed in 1894. Since 1946, when Monmouth Park was restarted, it has been situated in Oceanport, New Jersey.
“Man Hailing Seated Man Reading with Horse Race and Crowd in Background”
Created between 1884 to 1924 by Arthur Ignatius Keller, this drawing with wash, this detailed piece shows horse racing fashion of the Edwardian Era in America.
“Cover Artwork for Harper's Weekly”
This 1912 gouache color drawing by artist Anna Gladys Peck was for the now monthly Harper's Magazine. This cover shows men in a grandstand cheering on a race with race forms in their hands.
“Brighton Beach Race Course”
This 1887 color lithograph print was first published by the prolific New York Lithograph Company. The horses run past the crowds in the grandstand at the Brighton Beach Race Course at Coney Island in New York City. Opened in 1879, it was closed in 1908 when the anti-gambling Hart-Agnew Law was passed in New York. It was converted to residential living spaces in the 1920's.
“A Great Field in a Grand Rush”
Commissioned by the famous Currier and Ives company, this 1888 chromolithograph print depicts 19 jockeys racing horses. The location is unknown.
“Warming Up a Sure Winner”
Published on the cover of the August 1, 1894 of Puck Magazine, this chromolithograph print by Keppler and Schwarzmann has political connotations. Mainly, the battle between the ideals of Free Trade that were being debated around the world.
This etching from an unknown artist is dated April 13, 1769. Certainly, in today's modern anti-horse whipping world, the caption shockingly states that this is the first of a vigorous race that is won by whips and spurs. The horses are running toward Saint Stephen's Chapel (1547 to 1834) near Westminster Abbey in London.
“Eager for the race”
This 1893 color lithograph print was painted by Louis Maurer for Currier and Ives. It depicts seven jockeys pacing around before a race. Today, the horses are calmly led from stables to the starting gate before a race instead of being allowed to aggressively pace near the start.
“Going to the Derby”
A unique wash drawing, this was designed by artist William Small in 1893. In Louisville, Kentucky, the scene is similar during the Kentucky Derby, but cars are used instead of horse-drawn carriages.
"Hippodrome du Trotting Club Levallois"
Published in Paris by Émile Lévy and Cie in 1893, this color lithograph poster is an ad for Wild West legend SF Cody Junior. French cycling champion, Meyer of Dieppe, challenged Cody to a bike versus horse race. Veloaficionado.com states that many of these races ended in disaster.
“Hippodrome du Trotting Club Levallois” (front)
The second half of this advertisement is a famously reproduced poster. Wild West cowboy SF Cody challenges pro cyclist Meyer of Dieppe in Paris. These were often called "Flesh versus Steel" races.
This Currier and Ives lithograph print dates from 1852. The trotting horse is part of a race at the Buffalo Trotting Course in Rochester, New York. Today, this historic sport has moved to the Buffalo Raceway where harness racing is still done.