On the Outside Edge

cover-revised-smallMy edition of On the Outside Edge: Being Diversions in the History of Skating is now available on Amazon at such a low price ($8.31) that Amazon will lose money on each copy sold.

The author, George Herbert Fowler, is quite an interesting person. He worked as a scientist at first, but later switched to archive management and made great contributions to both fields. He was also an avid adult skater who contributed to skating by writing a great book on its history. On the Outside Edge chronicles the history of skating until 1897. For years, it had only been available in a handful of rare books rooms in the United States and the United Kingdom.

Fowler describes his own experiments with bone skates (he didn’t know about pushing with a pole, so he tried to push with his feet, with some success) and mistakes in translations of Old Norse literature that led people to believe characters were skating when they weren’t (sometimes they were skiing). The latter part of the book describes the development of skating (primarily figure skating) in various countries. At the end, there is a table of skating moves, dates, and references to where they were first published. All this is done in a quirky style that is a joy to read. I think it’s been under-appreciated for at least a century.

In this edition, I’ve added a lot of commentary to bring Fowler’s work up to date. I also found many of the pictures he mentions and reproduced them in this book. This is the first new edition of the book since 1897.