Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The "Seventeenth" Edition

Year end travel and visitors have kept me from my research and writing. Today, I return with a discussion of the "seventeenth" edition of Hoyle, certainly one of the more curious editions of Hoyle. Both the publication history, at least what I can make of it, and the physical book have oddities.

The "seventeenth" edition
(click to enlarg

The title page, pictured at left, is undated. It offers "two new cases at whist" and "the new laws of the game of whist" which first appeared in the "twelfth" edition of 1760 and were the last new material by Hoyle with the exception of a treatise on Chess published in 1761. It is called a "seventeenth" edition, leading Jessel to write:
This is apparently a pirated edition. There was, I believe, a genuine seventeenth edition issued by Rivington and his Company, but I have failed to procure or see a copy.

Jessel was perhaps misled by an entry in the Horr bibliography, suggesting the existence of a seventeenth edition. Jessel struck the second sentence as he made manuscript corrections in copies of his book now at the Bodleian (shelfmarks Jessel d.136, d.137, and d.138). No genuine "seventeenth" edition has appeared since, either as a physical book or in a newspaper advertisement.

That it is a "seventeenth" edition suggests only that it came after the "sixteenth" edition published in June 1775. At the time, Hoyle was published by the assignees of Thomas Osborne including Rivington, yet the imprint here is "Printed for P. Charles in Batten-Row." I have found no mention of P. Charles in the British Book Trade Index, and located only two other books with the name in the imprint, only one of which gives Batten-Row as a location. Jessel is correct—the book is a piracy and P. Charles is a fictitious name.Certainly, there was no legal reason for the printer to hide his identity, as Hoyle was in the public domain in 1775 with many new editions appearing that year. In any case, this is the latest stated edition of Hoyle.
F2 verso
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The book collates 12o: a6 B-D12 E12 (-E10,11,12 E9+χ2 F12 (±F2) G-I12 K6 L1 meaning that it is a duodecimo (twelve leaves to the printed page) with some curious cancels. Three leaves have been removed from the end of gathering E and replaced with a new fold. A single leaf was replaced in gathering F. Picture at right is one of the replacement leaves ("cancellans") with the stub from the old leaf clearly visible and inky fingerprints all over the page. Did the printer, rather than the binder, cancel the leaf?

I can't say why leaf F2 was cancelled, but know more about the misadventure at the end of gathering E. Copies at the British Library (shelfmarks 1507/659 and 7921.a.12) and the Bodleian (shelfmark Jessel f.569) have both the original and replacement leaves for E. The six removed leaves occur at the end of the section on whist and include two blank pages. Unfortunately, the printer imposed the pages incorrectly—the blanks did not appear where intended and the pages were out of order. The printer reset the type for the four pages of type and inserted them without blanks. The typography, the misimposition, and the inky cancels all suggest a hurriedly and carelessly printed book.

We are left with an odd book and some mysteries: Who is P. Charles? Can we identify him from the fingerprints? Why did he pirate a book in the public domain? Was he successful in competing against the other editions of 1775?