Monday, May 6, 2013

Hoyles at the Clark

It's been more than a month since my April Fool's prank which caught several of you who should know better.  Since then I've been pretty silent. I have three essays in the pipeline with more details about the Webster piracy, but they are technical and will take more time to make comprehensible. Plus, I've been traveling. Since the travel included research visits to a couple of libraries, I thought I'd report on some of the more interesting books I saw.

First, I visited the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library at UCLA. The grounds, building, and collections are all spectacular. The staff could not have been more helpful. I had a chance to look at eight 18th century editions of Hoyle, some of which are quite unusual.

Piquet. Osborne reissue.
Clark Library copy
Most interesting was A Short Treatise on the Game of Piquet, printed for T. Osborne, 1745. As I discuss in the essay on the first Osborne Hoyles, Thomas Osborne bought the Hoyle copyright from struggling bookseller Francis Cogan in 1745. The purchase must have included unsold copies of some of the books as well, because Osborne reissued the Cogan editions of Piquet and Quadrille with cancelled title pages. Osborne sold the treatises both individually, but more frequently as collections bound with other treatises.

The Quadrille reissues are fairly common--I've seen eight copies and know of several others. The reissue of Piquet is quite scarce, with only four copies known. The copies at the Bodleian, the Library Company of Philadelphia, and the American Contract Bridge League are bound with Whist, the Osborne reissue of Cogan's Quadrille, and Backgammon.The copy at the Clark is the only survivor that appears to have been issued individually.

I wish that Piquet had survived in its original binding. Cogan likely sold it in Dutch paper wrappers, an example of which can be seen online in the digital collections of the Beinecke Library at Yale. I suppose that Cogan did not go to the expense of putting on the decorative paper of his entire inventory, but only when the book was displayed in his shop for sale. Osborne, on the other hand, sold the Hoyles in drab blue wrappers, such as the one pictured here. How was the reissue sold? Was it originally in Dutch paper wrappers? Would Osborne have removed them? We'll probably never know.

Whist. Webb piracy
Levy copy
The current binding of Piquet at the Clark is a delightful surprise--one that is quite familiar to me. I have an equally rare and identically bound copy of a piracy of Whist, printed for W. Webb, 1742 (although both the name Webb and the date 1742 are ficticious). And I do mean identical--the cloth, the leather, the red label, the lettering, and even the brass ornament are the same in both. Compare the details of the spines below. The color difference are in part an artifact of photography and in part due to the better preservation of Piquet


Piquet. Osborne reissue. Clark Library copy

Whist. Webb piracy. Levy copy
Both books contain a stamp indicating that they were bound by Bayntun (Riviere) of Bath England.

Whist. Webb piracy. Binder's stamp.
The names Riviere and Bayntun will be familiar to anyone familiar with rare books. Robert Riviere (1808-82) was a fine London bookbinder. George Bayntun (1873-1940) was a bookseller and binder in Bath. The Baytun family continues to operate a bookshop in central Bath as well as the Bayntun-Riviere bindery.

How did two identical bindings come to be and how did they end up in different collections? I purchased Whist at auction in 2004. It bears the bookplate of William Tarun Fehsenfeld, a Baltimore antiques dealer who died in 1995. The Clark acquired Piquet in 1970 from the Nottingham bookseller Ian H. R. Cowley. It is probable, then, that Baytun bound both books some time before 1970, perhaps for the Nottingham dealer, or perhaps for a collector. I can't help but wonder if other books--other Hoyles?--might have been bound at the same time. I'll get in touch with Baytun and see if they might have records to fill in more details.

Seeing Piquet was the highlight of my visit to the Clark. There were some other notable items:
  • An Osborne collection of Hoyle, as discussed here. The Clark copy consists of Whist.6, BG.2, Quad.2, and Piquet.2 with each of the individual treatises autographed by Hoyle. It may have once contained a copy of the Laws of Whist. The impressions left on remaining pages were not as convincing as those pictured here. If the Laws were present, the book would fit perfectly in the third group of Osborne collections. 
  • One of two surviving copies of Reeve.1750, a reissue of Hoyle's treatises discussed here. The other is at the Bodleian.
  • A French translation of Whist dated 1765 that I had never seen before. It does not have a place of publication or a publisher, so more work is required to learn more about it. 
It was a delightful visit to The Clark. The next day I went on to the UCLA campus and visited Special Collections. They had many issues of The Covent Garden Magazine, which I will discuss in a future essay.

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