Monday, April 13, 2020

The First Piracy. Part 5. Bibliographical Concerns

updated June 29, 2020
This is the fifth and final essay on the first piracy of Hoyle's Whist. I have identified lots of variants in the surviving 44 copies. Here I ask the bibliographical questions--how many editions, issues, and states do these copies represent? The bible for answering these questions is Bowers.1 Indeed the mantra in my bibliography class was WWBD--What Would Bowers Do? His prose is dense, often argumentative, sometimes infuriating. Non-bibliographers who want a flavor of Bowers will be rewarded with frequent excerpts of his writing below.

To recap, part one provided an overview of the piracy and its physical structure. The second looked at gatherings B-H and K, noting that there were two settings of type for each of them, but one setting of I, L, M, A, and χ. The printer James Mechell printed two thirds of the book and decided to increase the print run. Most gatherings were reset; others were printed in larger quantity.

Essay three focused on gathering A, noting that even though there was a single setting of type, there were variations in the half title, the title, and the Advertisement. Essay four put things together. I was able to sequence the variants in gathering A, identify four phases of printing, identified by which variant of the title page is included, and summarize them in the chart below:

variations in gathering A

Variant 1 of the title page is the most common, appearing with variants 1 of the half title and Advertisement. For phase 2, the half title was reset, unlocking the forme and causing some type movement on title page, variant 2. That spacing was in part corrected in variant 3, when some type also slipped at the lower right margin of the Advertisement. Finally, the words "second edition" were added to produce variant 4 of the title page.

From examination or reports of 44 copies (recall that one copy lacked gathering A and cannot be included in the charts), I have identified which settings of the later gatherings combine with which phase of gathering A.

Setting of later gatherings grouped by title page variant

Before I delve deeply into Bowers' Principles, I should note that I'm not sure he would approve of the chart above. In a footnote, Bowers writes:
Attempts to link a press-altered title-page with certain press-altered formes of the text in another sheet usually betray bibliographical ignorance. (51)
I am linking a press-altered title page with other sheets that are reset, rather than altered in the press. As the data show, the correlation between the printing phases of gathering A and the resetting of the rest of the book are overwhelming. I trust that I am not betraying ignorance.

One of the jobs of a bibliographer is to classify copies of books by edition, issue, and state. Bowers defines these terms in a dense 88-page Chapter 2 of Principles. He notes that:
...books exist in separate editions and issues; parts of books may exist in variant states, although in certain special circumstances a copy of an edition or of an issue may itself be said to exist in a certain state. Bibliographies customarily give separate major headings only to editions, with issues listed under subheadings. Variant states are ordinarily treated under the heading or subheading to which they apply... (37)
Bowers defines the key terms:
An EDITION is the whole number of copies of a book printed at any time or times from substantially the same setting of type. (39)
An ISSUE is the whole number of copies of a form of an edition put on sale at any time or times as a consciously planned printed unit...(40).
...STATE is synonymous with VARIANT, and can be applied to any part of a book exhibiting variation in type-setting...(41)
How do these concepts apply to the first piracy of Hoyle's Whist? How many editions? Are there any separate issues? Which of the variants constitute a separate state? It's certainly not obvious.

Bowers does allow that no definition of "edition, issue, and state will indicate the invariable line to take with a small number of abnormally complex books..." (38) Perhaps this is one of those? Indeed trying to apply the definitions to the piracy has made me a little crazy. At various times over the past decade or so, I've come to different conclusions. Let me lay out my current thinking in this essay. I welcome comment from other bibliographers.

I am going to approach the problem in a series of steps. First, I will eliminate the outliers. Looking at the chart above, it is clear that almost all the copies with a variant 1 title page have first settings of the later gatherings. Almost all the copies with variants 2-4 have second settings. The outliers were introduced not when the book was printed, but when it was bound. After printing, the sheets must be dried, cut into half sheets, folded, and brought together for sewing. It is easy to see how the odd second setting might find it way into a book composed primarily of first settings. Eliminating the outliers simplifies the problem:

Eliminate outliers

Bowers does not address outliers introduced during binding specifically. He does examine examples where different editions sheets are bound indiscriminately (110-1), but not where the edition sheets, as here, are bound nearly uniformly. Bowers warns again letting differences in binding dictate new states (43-4). I am very comfortable ignoring the outliers noting them in the bibliography as copy-specific differences rather than as separate states.

My second step is to look at the differences between variants 2 and 3 of the title page A2r, which occur with differences in the Advertisement on A3r.



Perhaps the leftward movement of the T was deliberate. In the advertisement, the semicolon after "Undertaking" popped out of the forme and the hyphen and "l" from the next two lines migrated upward. As I mentioned in part 3, I have no idea where the comma after the catchword "'vai" came from. Bowers deals precisely with this situation:
Individual types were sometimes jerked from the forme by the ink-balls. Sometimes they went unnoticed...(47)
Such a change, Bowers notes, does not affect edition or issue, but state, so we can collapse variants 2 and 3 as we think about edition and issue:

Collapse variants 2 and 3

What about variant 1 versus variants 2-4? This is when Mechell decided to expand the print run, resetting gatherings that had already been printed and distributed. Bowers address this situation in his discussion of edition, but there is a circularity is his language that bothers me:
In quite a different category are books where the type was not left standing by design from the start, or from a point early in the printing, but had been normally undistributed when a decision was made to reset and print a new edition. (109)
It is the word "edition" that bothers me. The decision is to reset and print more copies. Whether they constitute a new edition is precisely the question. Bowers continues:
This decision may have been reached towards the end of the first printing and some formes kept standing by design, but the difference is immaterial. The characteristic of these books is that the standing type is from the last sheets to be printed (including preliminaries when these were last printed) [I, L, M, A, and χ in our case] and is not scattered throughout the book in a manner clearly showing that the lack of distribution was abnormal. (109)
He gives a number of 16c and 17c examples including one2 where the "title page was used in the identical setting in the second edition" along with some standing type. As I look at surrogates of that example, I see that what Bowers and other sources call the second edition, does have a title page identical with the first. This is exactly the Whist piracy--enough of the later sheets have been reset after variant 1so that it is not substantially the same setting of type. It is a second edition, even though one would not discern that from the title page.

Now what of Phase IV when the words "second edition" were added to the title page? Books from Phase IV are substantially the same setting of type as Phases II-III, so they cannot be a third edition. Could they be a separate issue?

Generally, Bowers wants a change in title page to create an issue. I'm going to ignore his distinction between separate issue and reissue, but will give you a flavor of his language:
We must, therefore, arbitrarily assume that any alteration made in the form of a book which was not important enough to justify a new title-leaf to call attention to it or to take advantage of the opportunity to bring the book up to date is a printer's attempt belated to construct an 'ideal copy' of his original issue and is not a reissue in which sheets are given new life or chronicle change in publishing conditions by alteration of form. (67)
But is the change in title page for phase 4, adding the words "second edition" to the same setting, enough to trigger another issue? Bowers would say no, although he doesn't have an example that matches exactly. He considers stop-press alterations of an imprint or date on the title page as creating a separate state, not issue:
Alteration of an imprint, usually for a change in a printer's, bookseller's, or publisher's name, or in the date, when performed by stopping the press comes in the same category as any stop-press alteration...If we are to regard the distinction between state and issue as necessarily made on bibliographical grounds whenever possible--that is, on the printing of the book rather than on less tangible considerations--alteration of a date or of a name in the imprint by stopping the press during the impression definitely comes under state* since it was demonstrably performed during continuous printing. (50)
*In a long footnote, Bowers notes the difference between bibliography and cataloguing, saying in part "...for cataloguing purposes variation of any kind on the title-page, if observed, constitutes a different issue. The use of the term issue in two quite different senses by cataloguers and bibliographers is undoubtedly of the greatest inconvenience for scholars and confusing to the student, but it is scarcely an argument that bibliography should limit itself to elementary cataloguing standards in order to procure uniformity." (50-1)
I am confident that Bowers would treat the stop-press insertion of "second edition" as a bibliographer, not a cataloguer; as a state, rather than an issue; .

Certainly the exposition of the story is more important than the bibliographical classification. Nonetheless, I do need to organize this section of the bibliography by the usual constructs of edition, issue, and state. I conclude that copies with the first setting of gatherings B-H and K are one edition (described here). Copies containing the second setting are a second edition, with three states corresponding to phase 2, 3, and 4 of gathering A (described here).

It seems odd that only some of the copies of the second edition say "second edition" on the title page, but that is the difference between bibliography and cataloguing. 

Do you agree?

Did you enjoy your taste of Bowers?


1Bowers, Fredson. Principles of Bibliographical Description. St. Paul's Bibliographies, 1987
2Randolph, Thomas, Aristippus (1630). 

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