Friday, December 19, 2014

2014: The Year in Collecting

Last year, I published a similarly titled essay. I commented there that it was difficult to find new Hoyle material and that a dozen items a year was a good target. In 2013, I found eight books only. In 2014, the number was ten. Before discussing the highlights, let me comment on work in progress.

As I wrote last month, I started the online Hoyle bibliography in early September. I have drafted 99 book descriptions, with the hundredth likely to be uploaded today or tomorrow. This is not to say that the work is is 100% complete. There are aspects of style that I need to standardize among the descriptions. I need to proofread the quasi-facsimile transcriptions. Most importantly, there is a lot of text to be written discussing each book and how it fits into the canon. But I do have credible technical descriptions of many Hoyles. I expect the number to double by the time I am finished.

With all the work on book descriptions, I have been neglecting this blog. Some planned but unwritten essays include the first recorded hand at whist, discussed by Julian Laderman is his recent book Bumblepuppy Days: The Evolution from Whist to Bridge. I also want to write about a fantastic whist fan I saw at the Greenwich Fan Museum, a gem of a London destination. You may recall my earlier fan-related essays "The Fans of Hoyle" and "Unusual Bibliographical Evidence." And that is just the top of my long list...

So what is new in 2014? I'll discuss the best of the newcomers in the order they were published.

1745 Quadrille
The earliest was the Osborne's 1745 reissue of Quadrille, first published by Francis Cogan in 1744. See its description and an earlier essay. What is odd about the copy is that it is not autographed by Hoyle, as he was under contract to do. One will find this book unautographed as part of an Osborne collection, but this copy shows no signs of having once been part of a larger volume. A minor mystery.


The next two books were published just a week apart, judging from newspaper advertisements. The rare reissue of Hoyle's Doctrine of Chances (see the essay "The Yorkshire Hoyles and the Doctrine of Chances") was advertised on December 24, 1760. I won't discuss it further here, but the book gets top honors among the 2014 acquisitions.

1761 Essay on Chess
A story goes with the next item. A week ago Tuesday, I wrote the description for Hoyle's Essay on Chess and uploaded it to my web site. Not only did I not own a copy, but I hadn't seen one for sale in the last thirty years. Chess is much more actively collected than other games and many of the great collections have found their way into institutions such as the John White collection in Cleveland or the collection at the Koninklijke Bibliotheek in the Hague. The book is quite scarce on the market.

In a charming coincidence, the day after, a copy of the chess essay appeared on eBay with a "buy-it-now" option. Of course I bought it! What is intriguing about this copy is that it is autographed not only by Edmond Hoyle and Thomas Osborne, but apparently by Richard Baldwin as well. You can see the ascenders in his signature, sadly trimmed in the course of binding. For a clear example of his signature, see the essay "The Doctrine of Chances." This book was first advertised on December 30, 1760, just six days after the reissue of Chances. Some copies of Chess have a final leaf with an advertisement for Chances; in mine, the leaf was removed prior to binding.

I tried to repeat the describe-it-then-buy-it experience the next day, but of course without success.

1811 Pigott's New Hoyle
As I wrote in the essay "The Pigott Hoyles", it is hard to figure out the publishing history of The New Hoyle. Undated books and inconsistent statements of edition create confusion. This 1811 "new edition, improved" manages to misspell Pigott's name on the title page. It seems to be a rarity, with copies recorded only at Oxford, the Cleveland Public Library, and the University of North Carolina.


The best "non-Hoyle" of the year is another example of a work published by Bob Short (a pseudonym of Robert Withy), or here, Bob Short Junior. I describe a number of these "Short Rules" here.  This work, on draughts or checkers, was not written by Hoyle who never wrote about the game. Yet it carries the phrase Hoyle Abridged on the title page. I discuss another example of this phenomenon in the essay "A Research Trip to Cleveland." I like the fact that the book is in entirely original condition including the paper label on the cover.

1828 Draughts (title)
1828 Draughts (cover)











 
I've skipped a handful of other acquisitions: an early American edition of Hoyle, a French translation dated 1770 that has enough mystery about it to warrant its own essay, a 1796 Charles Jones Hoyle (discussed briefly here), and some duplicates that I snagged at auction for half the low estimate.

Having mentioned "A Research Trip to Cleveland", I note in passing that it is the most visited page on the blog, the only page with more than 500 visits. Overall, the blog has had 41,000 page visits and should reach the 50,000 milestone this summer.

Best wishes, all, for the holidays and the new year. What will 2015 add to the Hoyle collection? 

Friday, November 7, 2014

A Descriptive Bibliography of Edmond Hoyle

Wow, it's been three months since my last post to this blog. One might assume I have been neglecting my Hoyle research. Nothing could be further from the truth!

In my one year anniversary post to this blog, I described my motive for starting it:
My intention is to write a descriptive bibliography of the writings of Edmond Hoyle. I also intend to write more journal articles.
How did I come to start the blog? Unfortunately, the book is years away and journal articles take a surprisingly long time to do well. However, having spent a career in the corporate world, I'm trained to be happiest when I am producing, so I started this blog to give myself a more immediate sense of accomplishment.
The bibliography was "years away" in 2012 and still feels years away. How can I begin to make progress on it? I decided to work on the hardest parts of the bibliography, the technical descriptions of the books, and post them incrementally to my web site. So far, I have managed to get credible drafts of more than 60 book descriptions online. And that effort has engaged me fully since the first of September.

The technical aspects of the project are not without interest. My goal was to create each book description in an environment where it could be both published on the web and inserted into a word processing document. That way, I can publish incrementally on the web while having all the work available for later print publication. I decided to create the descriptions in XML, tightly constrained by an XML schema. The translation for the web is using XSLT, while I have Python scripts feeding Microsoft Word. I also use Python to generate indices both for the web site and the print version. Importantly, each time I create a handful of new descriptions, I run programs to regenerate all the indices and book lists for both versions. Lastly, I have Python scripts to check the internal consistency of the more error-prone aspects of the descriptions.

Hoyle Bibliography Home Page
The home page for the bibliography is here. The books are divided into three major categories: separate works, collections of separately published works in publisher's bindings, and collected editions. These categories will be familiar to readers of this blog.

In addition, there are a number of useful search tools. A chronology lists all books by date (generally the day) of publication. There is an index of games covered, which shows two interesting things: first, when games became sufficiently popular to be included in Hoyle; and second the imitation among editors and publishers. For example, just after James Beaufort introduced Billiards to Hoyle's Games Improved, Charles Jones followed quickly. Holdings shows major institutional and private collections of Hoyle. It's a bit early to keep score, but the Bodleian has the deepest collection and I'm just ahead of the British Library in second place. Other indices show books by printer (when known) and publisher. Finally I list some of the standard reference works on gaming literature (discussed in the essay "Where can I learn more about Hoyle's writing?") and cross reference them to my bibliography. 

This is a truly significant project in the digital humanities. I know of no other such online bibliography, nor of one that used tools that could be reused by another bibliographer. There is much more to do. Proof reading the descriptions is a monumental effort. I have completed a third of the books I need to to bring me to 1800 and plan to carry on into the mid-19th century. Daunting, yes, but there is tangible progress!

Any comments or suggestions are welcome. Have at it!

Monday, July 21, 2014

A French Discovery

You may have heard a loud "whoop" from France in the past few weeks. No, it did not relate to the Coupe du Monde, nor to La Fête nationale (Bastille Day), but to a book. I received an email a month ago from my e-pal Philippe Bodard. We have never met, but have corresponded about whist books for several years. Philippe is the author of L'esprit du Whist and maintains the web site L'esprit du Bridge et du Whist.

To appreciate the discovery, let me share some background. The earliest known translation of Hoyle was thought to be a Portuguese edition dated 1753, a book I wrote about here. A German translation of 1754 was thought to be second. The first translation into French was thought to be 1761. Well, you can see where this essay is heading.

1751 French Translation
Philippe wrote to say that he had just acquired a 1751 French translation of Hoyle printed in Brussels, two years earlier than the Portuguese and ten years earlier than the first know translation into French! Thierry Depaulis (read about his work in the essay "Where can I learn more about Hoyle's writing?), Philippe and I were involved in a flurry of emails and we managed to learn much about the book. They did most of the hard work--here I am recording their results.

There is a great deal of interest:

(1) Nowhere does the book mention Hoyle, although the title page notes that it is translated from English.

(2) The translation was commissioned by the generosity "d’un seigneur des plus distingués de ce pays," a  most distinguished lord of Belgium, someone who will be difficult to identify.

(3) The translator is P. B. M. Malebranche. Thierry has done a great deal of biographical research and identified the translator as Pierre Baltasar Maximilien Malebranche. He was born in 1695, traveled to England in the 1720s attending Oxford and Cambridge and settled in Brussels around 1730. He published a number of books and died in in Liège in 1789 at the age of 94.

24 laws of whist
(4) The translation was made from the fourth London edition of Whist. There are a number of clues, but the easiest to note is the 24 laws of whist, as I describe in the essay "Changes in the Text of Whist." Interestingly, Malebranche did not use the more recent sixth edition of 1745, nor the "eighth" edition of 1748.

Error corrected in 4th edition
(Levy copy)
(5) There is an error in the fourth edition. On page 51 the printed text in section reads “Suppose A and B Partners, and that A has a quint-major in clubs…”  The 3rd and 5th editions both correctly say “quart-major.” The error is corrected in pencil in most copies of the 4th edition I have seen, likely by the bookseller. Malebranche gets this right, suggesting that he translated from a corrected copy.

(6) Thierry has looked at all of the early French translations of Hoyle's Whist and concluded that there are five completely independent translations of the book (plus another two that are closely related to one of them). I find that curious.

Rules of Whist
(7) The most fascinating item to me is the translator's preface, which gives rules for playing whist. In two essays on the nature of gaming literature (here and here), I distinguish rules from strategy. Rules are what allows you to play legally; strategy to play well. I noted that Hoyle never wrote about the rules of whist. Indeed the earliest one can find the rules of whist in English is the 1775 edition of Hoyle's Games Improved edited by James Beaufort. Malebranche's rules of whist are twenty four years earlier and appear to be the earliest rules ever published!

Philippe has found a rare and interesting gem. I find it astonishing that it has not previously been noted in any library catalogue or in any research on gaming literature. Much thanks to Philippe for the photographs and to Philippe and Thierry for their research. From their many emails, I sense a note of pride that Hoyle's translation into French is now known to predate the Portuguese and German translations!





Sunday, June 22, 2014

An Epitome of Hoyle, a Discovery, and two Coincidences

A quick note: It's the third anniversary of Edmond, Hoyle, Gent!

There is one 18th century Hoyle I have not yet covered in these essays. The title begins An Epitome of Hoyle with Beaufort and Jones's Hoyle Improved." The author is "a Member of the Jockey Club" and it was printed in London for C. Etherington, at the Circulating Library, No. 137, Fleet-Street. The book is undated, but ESTC shows Etherington publishing books at that address from 1781-2, giving an approximate date.

It is an 88 page summary of Hoyle, as improved by editors James Beaufort (discussed in the essay "Hoyle in the Public Domain") and Charles Jones (much discussed). The selling point of the book is noted in the introductory note "to the reader":
But the chief complaint that has ever been been made against Hoyle, is, that he is too prolix and perplexed; and that his book is of such a size, that it cannot be inserted in a common pocket book. It was to obviate this principal objection to Hoyle's Games, that the present production was compiled...
1791 Epitome


Epitome covers all the games covered by Hoyle and his early editors: hazard, backgammon, tennis, billiards, cricket, chess, draughts, whist, quadrille, piquet, lansquenet, and quinze, and adds one new game, E-O. The book was reprinted in Dublin in 1791 and is available from Google Books.



And now the recent discovery. I was vaguely aware of a 1785 work called Every Man a Good Card Player, but had never seen a copy. The book is not listed in any of the usual gaming bibliographies, but I was struck by the fact that the author is listed as "a Member of the Jockey Club." It was printed at the Logographic Press, for J. Wallis. The book was issued in a slip case as you can see on the Cornell University web site. Do click through and scroll to the second item--it's a lovely book!

I was able to purchase a digital copy of the book at modest cost from another holding library, the Huntington, and was delighted to discover that book is a line-for-line reprint of the card games only from An Epitome of Hoyle! The ESTC record has been updated to reflect this information and to connect the work with Hoyle.

Pigott's New Hoyle
Two things strike me about these books. First, is there a connection between them and Pigott's Hoyles, discussed here? The reason I ask is that Pigott was a member of the Jockey Club, wrote books satirizing the Club called The Jockey Club and The Female Jockey Club, and his edition of Hoyle contains laws approved by a number of London clubs including The Jockey Club. Could Pigott have been responsible for Epitome too?

Consider this snippet from the introduction to Pigott's Hoyle:
Though Mr. Hoyle's treatises are invariably recurred to for information, it will be readily admitted they are too prolix, and oftener perplex than inform.
The language ("prolix" and "perplex") and meaning echo the preface to Epitome. The texts of Epitome and Pigott's Hoyle are otherwise similar only when they quote from Hoyle. Certainly the Jockey Club provides a connection. Is there more?

The second point of interest is the slip case and the publisher Wallis. In one of my first essays here, "Late Hoyles, Early Slipcases," I note that an 1802 edition of The New Pocket Hoyle is one of the earliest books to be published in a slip case. Here we have an example 17 years earlier! And the connection? I didn't give the full imprint of the New Pocket Hoyle in the earlier essay. It is "printed by T. Bensley, Bolt Court, Fleet Street, for Wynne and Scholey, 45; and J. Wallis, 46, Paternoster Row. 1802."

So Wallis was involved in two pocket-sized Hoyles, 17 years apart, among the earliest books ever to be issued in slip cases. Wallis was a map-maker and frequently issued folded maps (see examples here and here) and board games in slip cases. Here we see him using a similar presentation for pocket books.

Now we can add Every Man a Good Card Player to the Hoyle canon and note that it is an excerpt from Epitome. I'm not sure we can connect the work with Charles Pigott--the rest of the text does not match terribly well despite some teases in the introduction.

Nor am I sure what to make of Wallis on the imprint of Card Player. How did he get the rights from Etherington? Is there any connection between Card Player and his later publication of The New Pocket Hoyle? Is he responsible for introducing slip cases to gaming manuals?

Monday, June 16, 2014

The Yorkshire Hoyles and the Doctrine of Chances

There are suggestions that Edmond Hoyle was one of the Yorkshire Hoyles. Here is a typical claim:
In "Yorkshire Genealogist" for October, 1887, P. 190, you give some notes on the Hoyle family, in which mention is made of an Elkanah Hoyle, of Upper Swift Place, Upper Hoyle Head, &c., near Halifax. I am very anxious to discover the parentage of this gentleman, and hope that some of your readers will kindly assist me.
I have no authority for the statement, but have reason to believe that he was the son of John Hoyle de Lowershawe, in Soyland, 1617-1769, and Susannah Garside de Barkisland; and that he was a brother of the Edomnd Hoyle who wrote the "Treatise on Whist." (Percy Savile Hoyle, "Hoyle", The Yorkshire Genealogist, 1890, p40).


The author provides an illustration of the Hoyle family coat of arms, reproduced at right. Heraldry sources indicate the Hoyle family motto was ""facta non verba" (Latin for "deeds, not words").




I have never believed the claim. The citation I find more persuasive is:
Yorkshire has been called the county of [Edmond Hoyle's] birth, but the present representative of the Yorkshire Hoyles, who acquired (temp. Edward III.) estates near Halifax, Mr. Fretwell Hoyle, has taken great pains of his genealogy, and has come to the conclusion that the Edmond Hoyle of whist celebrity was not in any way connected with his family. (Julian Marshall, "Books on Gaming" in Notes and Queries, 7th Ser. VII. June 22, 1889, p481)
Marshall goes on to note:
It is strange that no portrait of Hoyle should be known to exist. A picture, said to be his portrait, by Hogarth, was exhibited at the Crystal Palace some years ago (1870); but Mr. F. Hoyle, mentioned before, recognized this as a likeness of an ancestor of his own, one Edmond Hoyle, it is true, but not the Edmon Hoyle of whist. (p482) 
On the other hand, a recent acquisition suggests a connection between the Yorkshire Hoyles and the father of whist. The acquisition is an exceptionally rare copy of Hoyle's An Essay Towards Making the Doctrine of Chances Easy to Those who Understand Vulgar Arithmetic Only, a book I wrote about here. Jolliffe published the first edition in 1754 and Osborne reissued it with a cancel title in 1760. The most common version is a second edition of 1764. I noted that only one copy of the reissue survived at the Bodleian Library. I just acquired a second at auction.

1760 Chances

What is curious about the my copy is the inscription on the title page. Not the autograph signatures of author Edmond Hoyle and publisher Thomas Osborne which are always present in Hoyles from this time, but the ownership inscription at the top, "W. Hoyle." There were many William Hoyles in Yorkshire and I cannot say who's signature appears here.




Even more curious is the bookplate on the inside cover with a heraldic image, the Yorkshire Hoyle family motto "facta non verba" and the surname Hoyle below. The bookplate reproduces the Hoyle family coat of arms.



I'm no genealogist but poking around a number of web sites and family trees from the 17th and 18th century, I'm finding no connection between our Edmond and the Yorkshire Hoyles. But the records are by no means complete.

So, connection or coincidence? I can't say. I like to think that Percy Savile Hoyle found this book in a family library and concluded that Edmond must be a relative.

One curiosity about the text. The title page is a cancel, changing a 1754 book sold by John Jolliffe to an undated book (but one first advertised in 1760) sold by Osborne, Crowder, and Baldwin. The curiosity is on the verso of the title page, where we find an erratum correcting an error elsewhere in the text.

erratum
error
There are three ways to correct such an error. First, the erroneous sheet could have been cancelled. Second, the correction could have been made in pen. Finally, since Osborne was having a new title page printed in any case, adding the erratum to the verso is the least expensive solution. I find it odd that the erratum was printed more than six years after the error it corrects!

Now, if anyone can tell me any more about the genealogy of the Hoyle family...

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

A Tale of Two Advertisements

It's been a four month hiatus. I continue to make excellent progress on longer projects, but don't want to neglect this blog entirely. I have been trolling through 18th century newspaper advertisements and wanted to present two brief findings that I found exciting.

An unrecorded Scottish Hoyle?

The Scottish Hoyle
In the essay "The Scottish Hoyles (part I)," I discuss the undated edition of Hoyle's Games printed by Mundell and Son in Edinburgh, pictured at left. It is the only recorded edition of Hoyle to be published in Edinburgh during Hoyle's lifetime. Textually, it has all the updates from the twelfth edition (1760), but not from the thirteenth (1763), which would seem to bracket the publication date.


I conclude the essay by saying:
As to the dating, I...would like to find contemporary advertisements in Edinburgh newspapers. As of yet, I have not, but I am persistent...
Well, sometimes persistence pays off. Or not. Please help me decide. I did find a contemporary advertisement for an Edinburgh publication of Hoyle, but the advertisement raises more questions than it answers:

Caledonian Mercury of June 20, 1767
(click to enlarge)

Three things are strange. First is the date, 1767, rather later than I expected for the Mundell printing. Second, the title of the book is Hoyle on Whist, not the expected Hoyle's Games. Finally, the price is given as 6d. while the title page for the Mundell printing is 3s. What is going on?

I tried to identify the other advertised books to get a sense of how accurate the descriptions were:
  • There is a 7 volume 1767 London edition of Voyages, Discoveries, and Travels. ESTC T113577.
  • Barrow's 10 volume History of England seems to be dated 1763 rather than 1764. ESTC T174499.
  • Various editions of The Dictionary of Arts and Sciences appear to be in three volumes rather than four. 
  • There was a ten volume Shakespeare published in Edinburgh in 1767. ESTC  T138600.
  • Buchanan's two volume History of Scotland was published in Edinburgh in 1766. ESTC T96149.
  • I would have to do a lot more digging to identify the book of Scots poems. 
  • Ajax's speech is ESTC T164824.
  • Solyman and Almena is ESTC T134591.
  • There is a London, not Edinburgh publication of Watts' Catechisms in 1764. ESTC N36519.
  • The work by Professor Meston is ESTC T91401.
All in all, the details in the advertisement appear to be rather accurate. The short titles are not always what is recorded in ESTC, but the dates are generally correct. I'd have to do a lot more work to verify prices.

So, perhaps this IS an advertisement for the Mundell Hoyle. It would not be an astonishing error if the title were advertised as Whist instead of Hoyle's Games. Further, if the Mundell Hoyle were published in the early 1760s, perhaps the price was lowered from 3s. to 6d. On the other hand, there is that 1767 date in the advertisement...

I'm left to wonder, is there a 1767 Scottish printing of Hoyle's Whist that is unrecorded?

Advertising a Piracy?

One would expect that pirates would not generally advertise their works. Sure, they'd like to inform the public about their book, but why alert the copyright holder? One interesting exception is the 1743 "Webster" piracy of Hoyle's Whist. At the time of the advertisement, the first edition had sold out and the second edition had yet to appear. In fact the printer advertised the book. You can read about it in "Pirates, Autographs, and a Bankruptcy."

I just discovered a second example. In "Hoyle in the Public Domain, Yet Pirates Persist" I dismiss the editions of Hoyle's Games Improved, edited by Thomas Jones as a piracy of the work edited by Charles Jones. Both the name Thomas Jones and that of the publisher, T. Wood or W. Wood are invented names to hide the identity of the pirates.

It is not surprising, then, that I have found more than 100 advertisements for the Charles Jones edition, but none for that of Thomas Jones. Until a few days ago...

The Ipswich Journal, April 11, 1778

I like this advertisement, because it shows the book was in print as early as April 1778 and because it shows a price of 2s., less than the 1775 Charles Jones edition which sold for 3s.

Why did Philip Deck advertise a piracy? The advertisement appeared in a paper published about 90 miles northeast of London, The Ipswich Journal. Deck's shop was in the town of Bury St. Edmunds, 30 miles northwest of Ipswich. It seems likely that being so far removed from London, he did not know it was a piracy, or simply did not care. It is fascinating to see evidence of the pirate's distribution network outside of London.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013: One Final Collectible


Textile before conservation

Wow! This is my 100th post! And what a great way to end 2013, with a most extraordinary acquisition. Pictured at right is a textile I purchased at auction this year. For a much higher resolution image, please see my website.


What is it? Well, that's really hard to say. It is a cotton textile approximately 23" by 22". The auction catalogue listed it as a "bandana" but that seems improbable. My conservator called it simply a domestic textile. Given its layout, a central medallion with explanatory text facing four directions, perhaps it was intended to be used as a covering for a whist table. Some of the stains seem as though someone placed a damp cup or glass on it.

Detail of central medallion
How was it made? It is a copper engraving on cotton. The technique was developed in Ireland in the 1750s and quickly brought to England. For a comparable example from France, see here. This gives us an early bound on the date of its manufacture.

"Garter" ace of spades
Can it be dated further? The image of the ace of spades at right shows "G III Rex" and a garter design, typical of English cards from the late 18th until the very early 19th century. I suspect that textile dates from the 1790s.


Textile ready for framing
How was it conserved?
My goals were to preserve the textile while being able to display it in a frame. The conservator cleaned of all surface dirt. We decided that any effort to remove stains would risk discoloration and loss of the lovely toning. The conservator mounted a sympathetic support cloth to a stretcher and gently sewed the textile onto the support. In doing so, she was able to eliminate the creases shown in the first image. The repair in the lower right was present when I bought the item. I have not yet framed and hung it, but when framed, the glass will offer UV protection and I'll hang it away from any natural light.

What is the connection to Hoyle? I haven't yet done a detailed transcription of the text to compare it with Hoyle's writing. Nonetheless, it is clear that the Laws of Whist on the border and the odds are taken from Hoyle.

Laws of whist after Hoyle
Bridge odds after Hoyle

I have more analysis to do on this lovely and rare survival. I'll post more as I learn more.

In the mean time, I may take a short break from blogging--I am working on some longer articles for print publication, and I find it difficult to work on both.

Happy New Year!