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!

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