Introduction | Earliest Book About Tennis | Tennis as a Royal Game
Art of the Paumier-Raquetier | Enlightenment, Revolution & Tennis: Diderot & David
Court Tennis in the 19th Century | Beginnings of the Lawn Tennis
From Recreation to Competition | Some 20th Century Court Tennis Rarities
Stars & Icons of Modern Lawn Tennis | Survival of Court Tennis as an International Sport
Billy Haggard: Sportsman and Bookman | Selected References

The Art of the Paumier-Raquetier

Tennis in Eighteenth‑Century France, I

De Garsault, Francois Alexandre Pierre, 1673‑1778.
l'art du paumier-raquetier et de la paumeL’Art du Paumier‑raquetier et de la Paume.

S.l.: s.n., 1767.  Custom modern red morocco gilt.

The most detailed eighteenth‑century account of tennis, and of the craftsmanship that went into making rackets and balls, is De Garsault’s account, originally written for Diderot’s Encyclopédie, ou Dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers (see next section).  Garsault’s essay and important engraved plates were separately published in 1767 (shown here), in a second French edition in 1775, and in a German translation in 1778.  Garsault, a member of the French Academy, was primarily known as a naturalist. 

modern court tennis racketA Modern Court Tennis Racket

Made by Gray’s of Cambridge.  Courtesy of Dr. Harry Shealy and Mark Devine, Aiken Tennis Club.


Tennis in Eighteenth‑Century France, II

De Garsault, Francois Alexandre Pierre, 1673‑1778,
the art of the tennis-racket-maker and of tennisThe Art of the Tennis‑Racket‑Maker and of Tennis.

Translated by Catherine W. Leftwich.
S.l.: privately printed for Christopher B. Gabriel and Members of the Royal Tennis Court, 1938.
No. 14 of 200 copies, signed by Gabriel.  Original cloth.

The vignette at the top of this plate shows a game in progress in a dedanscourt, one of two earlier tennis court layouts, and the one that provided the model for modern court tennis.    Two spectators are watching the game from the dedans penthouse.


Tennis in Eighteenth‑Century France, III

De Garsault,the art of the tennis-racket-maker and of tennis Francois Alexandre Pierre, 1673‑1778.
The Art of the Tennis‑Racket‑Maker and of Tennis.

Translated by Catherine W. Leftwich.
Baltimore, MD: Racquet Sports Information Service, 1977.  No. 7 of 750 copies.  Original cloth, in slip case.  Inscribed by George Mars: "To Bill Haggard with all best wishes."  

This reprint of the 1938 English edition was published as a fund‑raiser for the International Lawn Tennis Hall of Fame, Newport Casino, RI.  In his new introduction, George Mars points out that, in 1938, in translating Garsault’s recipe for painting for tennis court walls (mainly with oxblood and lamp‑black), Miss Leftwich silently bowdlerized "a bucket of urine" to "a bucket of wine."  Shown here is Garsault’s detailed account of the stages by which tennis balls were made. 
The Stages of Making a Tennis Ball

Shomaking of tennis ballwn (clockwise) are the core; the strips of cloth that are tied round it with twine to build resilience; a ball after the cloth has been added; a ball cover into which the built‑up ball will be sewn; and a finished ball.  The last two items, a used ball, and a worn ball cover, show why court tennis balls must be reshaped, and sometimes remade, after each match.  A supply of some six dozen balls is needed every match.  Till recently, ball covers were white, necessitating regular repainting of the court walls with black paint to give visibility.  Courtesy of Dr. Harry Shealy and Mark Devine, Aiken Tennis Club.
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