Monday, October 10, 2011

Mr. Hoyle's Treatises (1748)

The Osborne offering of Hoyle's writing changed dramatically on Monday, March 7, 1748. For context, here is the list of Osborne Hoyles available in 1745-7:
As is clear from Osborne's advertising that the customer had the option of buying individual treatises for a shilling each or as a bound collection for five shillings. (See the notes below, for fuller references to earlier editions). Osborne indicated a new approach with an advertisement in the Whitehall Evening Post or London Intelligencer on Saturday, March 5, 1748:

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Half title (1748)
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Individual treatises were no longer available—Osborne advertised only Mr. Hoyle's Games Compleat for the reduced price of 3s. In fact, the half title (pictured at left) for the volume read Mr. Hoyle's Treatises, rather the advertised title. Osborne continued to offer the Laws of Whist for 6d., rather than the 1s. he had asked previously. Hoyle's autograph was clearly still attractive to customers. Even though there had been no piracies since 1743, Osborne still warns against copies not autographed by Hoyle.

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The advertisement promised "thirteen new cases never before published at whist." Hoyle had new material on whist for the first time since An Artificial Memory in late 1744 (which Osborne had included in the treatise on whist, rather than as a separate title).

There are a number of oddities in the physical book, although it appears to have been printed more or less as a whole. The collation formula suggests continuous printing: 12o: [A]2 B-D12 E6 F-L12. The pagination is a bit odd. There are four unnumbered pages (A1 recto: half title, A1 verso: Osborne advertisement for another book, A2 recto: section title for Whist, A2 verso" "To the Reader" autographed by Hoyle), followed by Whist on pages 1-84 (gatherings B through E). Quadrille begins in gathering F with three unnumbered pages followed by pages numbered from 100. The gap in numbering between Whist and Quadrille is strange—from that point, the book is numbered normally.

The section titles, too, are curious. Whist is given as the "eighth" edition, Quadrille the "second", Piquet and Backgammon both the "third". One would expect Quadrille to be a "third" edition as well—Osborne had already published a second edition and this was a new setting of type. I had noted earlier that Osborne really should have called his 1745 Backgammon a second edition, and here Osborne called Backgammon a "third" as though the 1745 edition really were a second. In reality, however, this is the first edition of Mr. Hoyle's Treatises, and the designations for the sections are bibliographically meaningless as they were not published separately.

The imprint "Printed for Thomas Osborne" appears on all but one of the section titles. The previous Osborne editions were all printed for T. Osborne; J. Hildyard at York; M. Bryson at Newcastle; and J. Leake at Bath. It appears that Osborne terminated the distribution arrangement with Bryson and Leake; Hildyard's name continues to appear on the advertisement, though not in the imprint. 

It is Quadrille that has the odd section title. It still shows the old imprint with Osborne and the three distributors. It is the only one of the section titles to have a price, one shilling, suggesting a plan to sell it alone. There is at least one copy where Quadrille has page numbers 4-24 after the three unnumbered pages, followed by page 121-124! Sometimes the first gathering is signed as A and sometimes as F and often with a mixture of the two! Despite these variations, it is clear that the there is only one setting of type for the text of Quadrille.

I am uncertain why Quadrille is so strange while the rest of the book is so regular and can only speculate about what happened. Perhaps Quadrille was initially planned as an individual treatise. Perhaps it was typeset from a copy of the second edition, and the compositor began with gathering A and page 1, changing them to F and 100, when it became clear how the book was to be issued. Perhaps the gap in page numbers between Whist and Quadrille was because the printer was waiting for the new cases on whist and didn't know how many pages would be required. Perhaps the type was saved and reprinted at another time—typically the pages would be saved, but the lines with page numbers and signature marks would not be, and thus might vary between impressions. I don't know that we'll ever be able to explain the makeup of this book with certainty.

This is the first London edition of Hoyle to be issued with a collected title page. As we shall see in a future essay, this edition remains in print until late 1756, although it was reissued a number of times with various titles pages.


I have written extensively the early publishing history of Hoyle in a number of essays:

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