How long has Physical Culture been going on for?

Join the Discussion Group! We invite you to share your comments, insights and questions on the History of Physical Culture.

Moderator: peter yates

User avatar
Harry Hayfield
Posts: 688
Joined: Sun Nov 09, 2014 7:17 am
Location: Llanrhystud, Ceredigion, Wales
Contact:

How long has Physical Culture been going on for?

Post by Harry Hayfield » Fri May 22, 2020 9:35 am

Considering that we are called the "History of Physical Culture", the question might seem academic, but having taken out a year's subscription to the British Newspaper Archive (which has a copy of every newspaper published in the United Kingdom since 1700, I thought I would search for the earliest reference to the three elements to get an idea.

Bodybuilding
The first reference found is a report of a talk given in Chard, Somerset, on Monday, December 12th 1853 by a Mr. Bormond which was entitled "Vegetarism, or the science of bodybuilding" however this is not bodybuilding as we understand the term today, so therefore the next reference is from Edinburgh in December 1900 when it was reported that at Waverley Place, a series of carnivals to celebrate Christmas and the New Year would be held hosted by a Mr. H. E. Moss where "The Hadji Abdullah Troupe of Arabs had a fine reception, their wonderful body-building tumbling causing wide spread enthusiasm". However, I think the first true reference came in the Coventry Herald in 1904 (June 3rd) when a certain Mr. Sandow was quoted from an article he had written in the London Opinion.

Weightlifting
The first reference here is a cross between an advert and a report regarding a publication produced by M. Huguenin and reports "The other day we saw striplings of light weight handle dumbbells from ten pounds to sixty pounds, in the most astonishing manner". It also references a description of the gym by Dr. Orpen of Birkenhead, Merseyside which lists the 16 sections of the gym and what the equipment was. This was reported in the Liverpool Mercury of May 1st 1846

Gymnastics
As you might expect this is by far the earliest reference with a report from the Sun from February 14th 1801, where it reports "Gymnastics for Youths" has been printed by Mr. J. Johnson of St. Paul's Churchyard, London, where for either a payment of nine shillings or free in exchange for a copy of his catalogue of school books, you could have a copy which was "a necessary manual, translated from the German, for all who have the care of youths"

As I have a subscription I have downloaded these articles in PDF format and would be happy to e-mail them to David to see if he can include them in the next Muscleanous magazine.
"Great heavens, what is there to adulate in me? Am I particularly intelligent, or remarkably studious, or excruciatingly witty, or unusually accomplished, or exceptionally virtuous?"
(The Duke of Dunstable, Patience by Gilbert and Sullivan)

User avatar
David Gentle
Posts: 612
Joined: Sun Oct 05, 2014 2:39 pm
Location: England
Contact:

Re: How long has Physical Culture been going on for?

Post by David Gentle » Fri May 22, 2020 4:34 pm

Hi Harry, yes please email me the info. I have a listing of just about every journal on health/fitness/bodybuilding, which eventually leads us up to bodybuilding as we know it, using some of your info along with what i already know will string together some sort of order. Usually early mags were devoted to basic hygiene and health issues which the average working man of the time had no idea one reason for early deaths back in the days of ignorance. For strongmen, the 1845 journal The National Police Gazette takes some beating.David Gentle
David Gentle
Chief Moderator
Author & Historian,
Physical Culture
https://davidgentle.com

peter yates
Posts: 2523
Joined: Sun Oct 05, 2014 10:38 pm
Location: NEW YORK, USA

Re: How long has Physical Culture been going on for?

Post by peter yates » Fri May 22, 2020 5:14 pm

Nice work Harry.This is a chronicle of what was reported in the British newspapers,though the terms may have been used at a much earlier date on the continent in both texts and newspaper articles.A good piece to add to the puzzle though.Thanks.
Regards,Peter.
Peter Yates

User avatar
Harry Hayfield
Posts: 688
Joined: Sun Nov 09, 2014 7:17 am
Location: Llanrhystud, Ceredigion, Wales
Contact:

Re: How long has Physical Culture been going on for?

Post by Harry Hayfield » Fri May 22, 2020 5:36 pm

David Gentle wrote:
Fri May 22, 2020 4:34 pm
Hi Harry, yes please email me the info. I have a listing of just about every journal on health/fitness/bodybuilding, which eventually leads us up to bodybuilding as we know it, using some of your info along with what i already know will string together some sort of order. Usually early mags were devoted to basic hygiene and health issues which the average working man of the time had no idea one reason for early deaths back in the days of ignorance. For strongmen, the 1845 journal The National Police Gazette takes some beating.David Gentle
Well, what do you know I say, that newspaper is also part of the collection!
"Great heavens, what is there to adulate in me? Am I particularly intelligent, or remarkably studious, or excruciatingly witty, or unusually accomplished, or exceptionally virtuous?"
(The Duke of Dunstable, Patience by Gilbert and Sullivan)

raynobile
Posts: 121
Joined: Fri Nov 16, 2018 10:43 am
Location: bulgaria

Re: How long has Physical Culture been going on for?

Post by raynobile » Sat May 23, 2020 11:11 am

hi harry, you state that the first refference to bodybuilding was an article writen to a newspaper in 1904 by sandow. sandow held a bodybuilding contest in london in 1901. to find britains perfectly developed man.might be worth searching the london papers from that year. contest was won by a scotsman by the name of w.l. murray.although he lived in england then.among the judges was arthur conan doyle creator of sherlock holmes.

User avatar
Harry Hayfield
Posts: 688
Joined: Sun Nov 09, 2014 7:17 am
Location: Llanrhystud, Ceredigion, Wales
Contact:

Re: How long has Physical Culture been going on for?

Post by Harry Hayfield » Sat May 23, 2020 1:34 pm

raynobile wrote:
Sat May 23, 2020 11:11 am
hi harry, you state that the first refference to bodybuilding was an article writen to a newspaper in 1904 by sandow. sandow held a bodybuilding contest in london in 1901. to find britains perfectly developed man.might be worth searching the london papers from that year. contest was won by a scotsman by the name of w.l. murray.although he lived in england then.among the judges was arthur conan doyle creator of sherlock holmes.
Yes, I have indeed found a report. Published in the "The Globe and Traveller" from September 16th 1901 and enclosed

BUT

There is a far more interesting story from the Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser published on August 3rd 1901 that states "Sandow LIBELLED" with Eugene Sandow as the person accused of libel against Orno Saxon (most likely Arthur Saxon). I have downloaded the article and would be happy to cross reference it between published court records to find out what happened.
Attachments
Sandow Contest Report.png
Sandow Contest Report.png (462.46 KiB) Viewed 66 times
"Great heavens, what is there to adulate in me? Am I particularly intelligent, or remarkably studious, or excruciatingly witty, or unusually accomplished, or exceptionally virtuous?"
(The Duke of Dunstable, Patience by Gilbert and Sullivan)

raynobile
Posts: 121
Joined: Fri Nov 16, 2018 10:43 am
Location: bulgaria

Re: How long has Physical Culture been going on for?

Post by raynobile » Sun May 24, 2020 7:12 am

great stuff harry good find. i believe sandow had numerous court cases throughout the years. as much later joe weider. a case of history repeating itself methinks. both guys made lots of false claims when advertising their products. :D .

peter yates
Posts: 2523
Joined: Sun Oct 05, 2014 10:38 pm
Location: NEW YORK, USA

Re: How long has Physical Culture been going on for?

Post by peter yates » Sun May 24, 2020 1:13 pm

raynobile wrote:
Sun May 24, 2020 7:12 am
great stuff harry good find. i believe sandow had numerous court cases throughout the years. as much later joe weider. a case of history repeating itself methinks. both guys made lots of false claims when advertising their products. :D .
Yes Ray, and they both made a lot of money.
Peter Yates

peter yates
Posts: 2523
Joined: Sun Oct 05, 2014 10:38 pm
Location: NEW YORK, USA

Re: How long has Physical Culture been going on for?

Post by peter yates » Sun May 24, 2020 1:22 pm

Not sure when the words were first in print but the actual activities of Physical Culture and Weightlifting go way back into antiquity. So many ancient cultures engaged in these activities for recreation or as a preparation for combat [Chinese,Spartans etc.]Doing some research for an article on weightlifting in ancient China at the moment.I have asked someone who has PC books going back to the 18th century and earlier what he can find of written accounts of those terms.Interesting topic you have started Harry. BTW did we ever find out when the term He-Man was first used and by whom?
Regards,Peter.
Peter Yates

User avatar
David Gentle
Posts: 612
Joined: Sun Oct 05, 2014 2:39 pm
Location: England
Contact:

Re: How long has Physical Culture been going on for?

Post by David Gentle » Mon May 25, 2020 3:01 pm

I think the wife first used the words "He Man" when she saw me on our honeymoon, or maybe not. Like Peter says bodybuilding in print goes back as far as print. I know Dave Webster gave the Texas museum an early 16th century book on the subject and as long as the guys were pulling on bow strings for one arm extensions, then you can trace training back to the beginnings of the Spartans and beyond If you like researching , and its Sandow, then if you have unlimited access, take a look at Sandows Magazine 1901-2 or vol v , v1 for his accounts of the first contests as Ray mentions above, also see Health and Strength series by Pullum, "Strongmen I have Known" circa 1950s for indepth reports.News papers, as today, often got the facts wrong, so its worth a second look at anything. Good luck, i have been there and its a tough and winding road. David Gentle
David Gentle
Chief Moderator
Author & Historian,
Physical Culture
https://davidgentle.com

Post Reply