I purchased the first book, a duplicate, because of the binding, paper pasted over boards. The book, The New Hoyle printed for the George Walker (1817) is common, but the cover, though a bit tattered, shows how the book would have been offered for sale. I am a huge fan of books in their original binding.
|wrapper for The New Hoyle|
|engraved frontispiece and title|
I also like the engraved frontispiece and extra engraved title page. The frontispiece is far from fine art, but I believe it plays an important role in marketing the book. With Hoyle's writing not in copyright in 1817, a publisher needed to do something to distinguish his Hoyle from the others on the market. The engraving is more difficult and expensive to copy than the text. This edition is also distinguished by its small format and price of 3s., less than half that of the market-leading Charles Jones Hoyle published in 1814 at 7s.6d.
Second is Hoyle's Games Improved and Selected as a Companion to the Card Table, revised and corrected by Charles Jones, 1820. The title suggests that the contents are extracted from a larger work; indeed it consists of the first 192 pages, the card games only, from Hoyle's Games Improved, a later edition of the market leader mentioned above. The full book (502 pages) includes board games, billiards, and outdoor activities such as golf and horse racing.
What is most interesting is that the extract is from the same setting of type as the complete work, allowing the typesetting costs to be shared between the two publications. The publishers extended the practice by separately issuing a work on the first two card games, whist and quadrille, again the same type, but the first 106 pages only.
From the Longman Archive, we know that the publishers printed 4000 copies of Hoyle's Games Improved and 1000 copies each of Companion and Whist and Quadrille. The books were quite profitable: total costs were £325 and the retail price of the books totaled £1475. Hoyle's Games Improved was reprinted in 1826, so we can be sure it sold out. The others were not reprinted, but were not advertised in newspapers after the initial flurry in 1820, and likely sold out as well.
|front wrapper bound in|
Interestingly, Companion was sold in two different bindings, in boards for 3s. 6d. or in a paper case with gilt edges for 4s. 6d. My copy has been rebound in three-quarter leather, but the original cover with a price of 3s. 6d. is bound in; it was one of the copies sold in boards. A copy at the Bodleian shows that the paper cover was originally pasted onto boards, so the binder of my copy had to do extra work to preserve the paper wrapper.
The last two books I want to talk about were included in a 19c French gaming box. First, the box:
|French Gaming Box...|
|..with scoring markers and books|
Inside are four chenille-trimmed baskets with scoring tokens for card games such as Whist or Boston. Two books, both English, fit neatly in the near-right compartment. They must have been added later. Both of the books are unique copies.
|two books in wrappers from the gaming box|
On the left is Companion to the Whist Table, dated 1835. It is not a Hoyle, but an extract of articles that appeared in Bell's Life in London, a weekly sporting periodical. Bibliographer Frederic Jessel had seen Bell's Life, and noted that the April 1842 issue recommended two books, The Companion to the Whist Table and The Modern Whist-Table. He had never seen either work and no copies are recorded. Jessel wrongly speculated that Companion may be the same as the Charles Jones Companion to the Card Table, discussed above.
Next is a Hoyle, a small (10.2 x 6.5 cm) book in yellow wrappers. The book has an engraved frontispiece dated 1824, but I suspect that the engraving was recycled from an earlier edition from the same publishers. There is an advertisement on the rear cover for a book on swimming that dates to 1827.
|Miniature edition of Hoyle, 1827c.|
This edition of Hoyle competes at a third price point, 6d., much less than either the Jones or Walker editions discussed above. The publishers appeal to different classes of readers. Again, note the engraving to distinguish this work from other comparable cheap editions then for sale.
It is a treat to have these two books, both "singletons," in original wrappers in remarkable condition. Did I mention how much I like original bindings? How did these two rarities come to be in a French gaming box?