Tuesday, November 5, 2013

More from the database: another bad seller

In may last essay, I described the database I had built with many sources of information about the Hoyle copyright. In the past couple of weeks, I have been loading more newspaper advertisements into the database. Rerunning the reports I shared earlier, I have a new example of a Hoyle that remained in print for a long time. Well, sort of a Hoyle...

The book is Dew's Treatise on Billiards, published in 1779. There is not a word of Hoyle's in it, but it must be considered in a discussion of the publishing history of Hoyle. As I discuss in "The most important Hoyle after Hoyle", the 1779 Charles Jones book Hoyle's Game Improved, incorporated a number of other gaming works--William Payne's works on whist and draughts (checkers) and Dew's on billiards.

In "A Research Trip to Cleveland" there is a section on challenges for the Hoyle bibliographer. There I note books written by Hoyle that appear without attribution and books attributed to Hoyle that he or his publishers had nothing to do with. Dew's book represents a third case: it was printed at the same time as Hoyle's Games Improved from the same setting of type used for its appearance there. Perhaps you can imagine the printer saving the pages of type after printing HGI, changing the page numbers and adding a new title page for Dew. Because it is the same setting of type, the separate treatise is bibliographically part of the same edition of HGI, but is a separate issue. It is part of the same business venture and must be treated in a Hoyle bibliography.

As to their reception, HGI sold reasonably well, with the next edition appearing in 1786, seven years later. Dew's treatise was nowhere near as popular. It was never reprinted excepted as part of the Jones Hoyle and advertisements can be found as late as 1794, staying in print for 15 years.

Update December 21, 2014:

Make that 17 years! I just noticed a footnote in the 1796 edition of the Hoyle's Games Improved (p232) "[The Dew] treatise may be had separate, price 1s."

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