Monday, December 12, 2016

Another 2016 Acquisition

Only days ago, I published an essay on my 2016 acquisitions. One more just arrived from Austria. I didn't include it in the previous essay because it had been stuck in US Customs for weeks due to some combination of Christmas volume and Homeland Security. But now that it is here, I find much to discuss about the lovely book.

title page

The short title is Gründliche Anweisung zum Whist-Spiele, published in Vienna and Prague in 1821. It is an anthology of English whist literature translated into German as is evident from a phrase in the long title: "based on examples after the best information of the old as well as the new school from Hoyle to Matthews".

The binding is boards covered with marbled paper and a red leather label on the spine reading "Adams, Whist Spiele." I've never been a huge fan of German books of this era. The fraktur is a challenge for me. The paper generally does not feel good to the touch and the binding is often brittle (though not in this case). This book may be the one to help me overcome my biases--I find it rather charming!


I cannot read the German, but the book has chapters excerpting the important English writers on whist. There is Herrn Hoyle.


After Hoyle, Herrn William Payne wrote Maxims for the Game of Whist. I discuss Payne's writing in the essay "The Most Important Hoyle After Hoyle".


Most of Adams' book is a translation of Thomas Matthews Advice to the Young Whist Player, an important and frequently-reprinted work I discuss here.


And somewhat surprisingly, there are excerpts from Charles Pigott's New Hoyle. New material did appear in later editions of Pigott, all published by James Ridgway after Pigott's death, but they were not about whist, but about other games. See "The Pigott Hoyles" for a list of editions of his books.

All in all, a lot for a small 196 page work! Now, a conundrum. Do I shelve it with my whist books or with my Hoyle's?

There is one other thing I find interesting. The signature marks have a different pattern from anything I've ever seen. The book is a duodecimo, regularly gathered in eights and fours. The first leaf of each gathering is signed numerically 1-16, but the second leaf of each eight-leaf gathering is signed 1*, 3* ... 15*. Only the first leaf is signed in the four-leaf gatherings. I've posted a query to book lists EXLIBRIS-L and SHARP-L to learn if this is typical of the time and location. As I said it's new to me.

There is one other 2016 purchase that is on it's way from Italy, but based on my experience with this book, I can't imagine it clearing customs until the New Year. Read about it perhaps a year from now.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

2016: The Year in Collecting

Earlier this year, the Book Club of California hosted the annual tour of the Fellowship of American Bibliophilic Societies. I was a panelist for a session entitled "Delights and Dilemmas of Booksellers, Librarians, and Private Collectors."  The dilemma I discussed is one familiar to the long-time collector--I don't find much to buy in my area of interest. The upside is that when I do find something, it's quite delightful. There is a video archive of the discussion on the BCC web site.

With that thought, 2016 was, like 2013, 2014, and 2015, a pretty quiet year in collecting. I've already written about the most interesting books, the Scottish miniature in a slip case and the early English book with the rules of piquet. I have four items to discuss here and will treat them in the order published.

The New Pocket Hoyle (1807)
The oldest is a third edition of The New Pocket Hoyle printed by T. Davison for Robert Scholey and others, 1807. Like the first edition, discussed in my essay "Late Hoyles, Early Slipcases", the book was sold in multiple formats, this one in a slip case covered with an engraving dated 1805. It's hard to be 100% sure, but I believe the engraving is identical to the one dated 1802 used in the first edition--the engraver appears to have changed only the date. You can judge for yourself by comparing the picture at right with that in the earlier essay. The New Pocket Hoyle is a relatively common book and was priced accordingly, but it is delightful to find it in a well-preserved case.

Early American Hoyles are much less common. I found the shabby copy of Hoyle's Games pictured below on eBay. It is printed and sold by John Bioren in Philadelphia in 1817. There is a crude tape repair to the spine, but the printed paper covered board has somehow survived. There are only three known copies of this book and I'm only a bit embarrassed to say that I have two of them. Yes, this was a duplicate; perhaps one of my copies will make it to the American Antiquarian Society at some point. They try to collect every early American imprint and tend to be active on eBay. I don't know how they missed this one.

Hoyle's Games, Philadelphia (1817)

Hoyle's Card Games, Glasgow (1826)
Astonishingly, I found another delight on eBay. This is a Glasgow imprint of Hoyle's Card Games (1826). The text is the same as the Bath edition of 1824, and I was aware of an 1827 Glasgow edition with copies at Oxford and Louisiana State (in the poker and Hoyle collection of Judge Olivier P. Carriere). The 1826 Glasgow edition was not known anywhere. Alas the book is imperfect, lacking two leaves at the end, but it seems to be the only survival, so I can't much complain.

Bob Short on Whist (1832)
Finally, a travel story. My family visited Italy and Spain in the Spring. Had I been alone I would have attended the international book fair in Bologna and visited a number of fine book shops in Italy and Madrid. I had different priorities with my family but was pleased to happen upon a shop in Sienna. There I found two gaming books, one of which was a delight. It consisted of four pamphlets in Italian bound together: two on chess, one on the card game of calabrasella, and the last...Hoyle's rules for whist compiled by "Bob Short".

As regular readers may recall, Bob Short is a pseudonym for Robert Withy, about whom I've written frequently. His short rules for whist date to the late 18th century and were reprinted frequently in the first half of the 19th. This Italian edition of 1832 purports to be a third edition. I've tracked down a Florence edition of 1820 which seems to be the earliest, but no sign of a second edition.

Most rare book purchases are online these days. It's a delight to walk into a shop at random and find something that fits so well into my collection. I definitely miss the days when that happened much more frequently!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Fifth Anniversary: The half-year in collecting

Today marks the fifth anniversary of this blog. Most of my energy is devoted to the descriptive bibliography of Hoyle, substantial portions of which are now online. But I don't want to neglect the blog entirely.

1806 Dundee miniature Hoyle

So let me share a recent purchase, a condition upgrade to a book I wrote about in the essay "The Scottish Hoyles (part 2)". It is Hoyle's Game of Whist printed in Dundee Scotland by W. Chambers for booksellers in London, Edinburgh, and Perth. It is the only miniature Hoyle with a text block that is 3 1/8" tall. While my copy was in satisfactory condition, it had been rebound.

The new copy is in near mint condition with the original binding of goldenrod papers and a red leather spine. Interestingly, the binding is different from that of the copy at the National Library of Scotland (pictured in the previous essay), also original. Perhaps each of the three booksellers issued the book in different bindings. Note the crescent of discoloration to the top of the book. Can you identify the cause? 

The discoloration is from the thumb-hole of a slipcase. Yes, this charming miniature was issued in a slipcase! See the pictures below of couples dancing at a ball and a foursome playing at whist. Rather charming, don't you think?

I've written about Hoyles in slipcases a couple of times. First in "Late Hoyles, Early Slipcases" I discuss two examples, one from 1802 and another from 1803. And in "An Epitome of Hoyle, a Discovery, and two Coincidences" I discuss a very early slipcase from the early 1780s.

It is an interesting question why publishers decided to go to the expense of making the slipcases. A comment from the 1803 work suggests that the goal may be to appeal to women:
The proprietors of Hoyle's Games Improved, ambitious of retaining that patronage which those who endeavour to serve or amuse the public generally acquire, have had the whole work carefully revised and enlarged with, as they hope, material corrections throughout; and supposing that the same might with propriety be divided into nearly two equal portions, one calculated for the card table, and most suitable for ladies, the other appropriate to the male sex, as containing games that require stronger exertion or more intense application; the proprietors consequently now first publish, in a convenient size and elegant manner, that part which they trust will prove most acceptable to their fair country-women, intending soon to print the rest in a similar form, so as to give a complete edition of a book containing the most fashiable games, both of skill and chance.
My copy of the Dundee Hoyle made six known copies and it was the only one in the slipcase. However, shortly after I purchased it, another copy came to auction as part of a shelf lot of 19th century bindings. So now there are seven, two of which are in slipcases. Perhaps the seventh copy will appear in the trade before much longer!

Sunday, January 3, 2016

2015: The Year in Collecting

As I did in 2013 and 2014, let me share new acquisition highlights for the past year. The count is five 18th century editions of Hoyle, two from the 19th, and a bevy of other gaming works.

I have already written about two of the non-Hoyles in the essays "The Left Hand of Bougy: A Trictrac Manuscript" and "Le Grand Trictrac". A third book is the 1754 and final edition of The Compleat Gamester, one that I noted plagiarizes substantial portions of Hoyle. I do like the frontispiece by Parr which first appeared in the seventh edition of 1750.

1754 Compleat Gamester
1752 Polite Gamester

But let's move onto the Hoyles where there are four juicy finds (the fifth was a condition upgrade). I wrote about the Peter Wilson editions of The Polite Gamester in "A Copyright Fight in Dublin". The new acquisition is the second issue, now sitting next to my copy of the rarer first issue. These two are described in my online bibliography here and here.

What distinguishes the first issue from the second? It is the addition of pages 39-46 which were printed after the rest of the book. Note the "finis" at the bottom page of 38 and the continuation on page 39 with "additional cases at whist, never published till 1748."

1752 Polite Gamester pages 38-39

1796 Pigott Hoyle

"The Pigott Hoyles" edited by Charles Pigott were published posthumously and the early editions are quite scarce. The first edition survives in a single copy at the Bodleian. That book was reissued with an addenda and until 2015 I knew only of a copy at the Bodleian. How I came to acquire a second copy is one of those charming collector's stories.

I spent three weeks in Ireland this summer, two with Bibliotours and one doing research at Trinity College, the National Library of Ireland, and Dublin City Libraries (see my essay "Schools for Whist" to learn about their unique Hoyle-related item). During the trip I visited a handful of rare book shops, but found nothing to bring home. A few days after I returned home I got an email from a friend who saw the Pigott Hoyle listed in the catalogue of a Dublin book dealer. Well, the dealer was actually a bit outside of Dublin and did not keep an open shop, so perhaps I can be forgiven for not finding the book on my own. In any case, I do think of the book as a souvenir from my travels.

1797? Pigott Hoyle

I found the next Pigott Hoyle on eBay this year. It is styled a "fourth" edition, but seems to be a second edition which seems to have been published in 1797. Still rare, there are copies at the British Library, Standford, the John White collection at the Cleveland Public Library, and the one pictured at right.

Lastly, a French translation of Hoyle. It is published by Knapen and dated 1770 and appears at the end of a 1763 Académie Universelle des Jeux purportedly printed in Amsterdam without a publisher. That is suspicious--18th century books in French with an Amsterdam imprint were often printed in Paris. The false imprint was intended to evade licensing laws.

There are an uncountable number of mysteries about this French translation. It seems never to have been issued separately from the Académie. A friend also has a copy with a 1763 Académie and it seems to turn up with a 1770 version as well, though this time with a Knapen imprint. But even stranger is that my copy with a 1763 Académie is at least in part different type from that of my friend. Really, one needs to compare all these books side-by-side to figure out what is going on.

Best wishes for 2016!