Sunday, June 22, 2014

An Epitome of Hoyle, a Discovery, and two Coincidences

A quick note: It's the third anniversary of Edmond, Hoyle, Gent!

There is one 18th century Hoyle I have not yet covered in these essays. The title begins An Epitome of Hoyle with Beaufort and Jones's Hoyle Improved." The author is "a Member of the Jockey Club" and it was printed in London for C. Etherington, at the Circulating Library, No. 137, Fleet-Street. The book is undated, but ESTC shows Etherington publishing books at that address from 1781-2, giving an approximate date.

It is an 88 page summary of Hoyle, as improved by editors James Beaufort (discussed in the essay "Hoyle in the Public Domain") and Charles Jones (much discussed). The selling point of the book is noted in the introductory note "to the reader":
But the chief complaint that has ever been been made against Hoyle, is, that he is too prolix and perplexed; and that his book is of such a size, that it cannot be inserted in a common pocket book. It was to obviate this principal objection to Hoyle's Games, that the present production was compiled...
1791 Epitome

Epitome covers all the games covered by Hoyle and his early editors: hazard, backgammon, tennis, billiards, cricket, chess, draughts, whist, quadrille, piquet, lansquenet, and quinze, and adds one new game, E-O. The book was reprinted in Dublin in 1791 and is available from Google Books.

And now the recent discovery. I was vaguely aware of a 1785 work called Every Man a Good Card Player, but had never seen a copy. The book is not listed in any of the usual gaming bibliographies, but I was struck by the fact that the author is listed as "a Member of the Jockey Club." It was printed at the Logographic Press, for J. Wallis. The book was issued in a slip case as you can see on the Cornell University web site. Do click through and scroll to the second item--it's a lovely book!

I was able to purchase a digital copy of the book at modest cost from another holding library, the Huntington, and was delighted to discover that book is a line-for-line reprint of the card games only from An Epitome of Hoyle! The ESTC record has been updated to reflect this information and to connect the work with Hoyle.

Pigott's New Hoyle
Two things strike me about these books. First, is there a connection between them and Pigott's Hoyles, discussed here? The reason I ask is that Pigott was a member of the Jockey Club, wrote books satirizing the Club called The Jockey Club and The Female Jockey Club, and his edition of Hoyle contains laws approved by a number of London clubs including The Jockey Club. Could Pigott have been responsible for Epitome too?

Consider this snippet from the introduction to Pigott's Hoyle:
Though Mr. Hoyle's treatises are invariably recurred to for information, it will be readily admitted they are too prolix, and oftener perplex than inform.
The language ("prolix" and "perplex") and meaning echo the preface to Epitome. The texts of Epitome and Pigott's Hoyle are otherwise similar only when they quote from Hoyle. Certainly the Jockey Club provides a connection. Is there more?

The second point of interest is the slip case and the publisher Wallis. In one of my first essays here, "Late Hoyles, Early Slipcases," I note that an 1802 edition of The New Pocket Hoyle is one of the earliest books to be published in a slip case. Here we have an example 17 years earlier! And the connection? I didn't give the full imprint of the New Pocket Hoyle in the earlier essay. It is "printed by T. Bensley, Bolt Court, Fleet Street, for Wynne and Scholey, 45; and J. Wallis, 46, Paternoster Row. 1802."

So Wallis was involved in two pocket-sized Hoyles, 17 years apart, among the earliest books ever to be issued in slip cases. Wallis was a map-maker and frequently issued folded maps (see examples here and here) and board games in slip cases. Here we see him using a similar presentation for pocket books.

Now we can add Every Man a Good Card Player to the Hoyle canon and note that it is an excerpt from Epitome. I'm not sure we can connect the work with Charles Pigott--the rest of the text does not match terribly well despite some teases in the introduction.

Nor am I sure what to make of Wallis on the imprint of Card Player. How did he get the rights from Etherington? Is there any connection between Card Player and his later publication of The New Pocket Hoyle? Is he responsible for introducing slip cases to gaming manuals?

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