Thursday, July 28, 2011

The most important Hoyle after Hoyle

The last authorized Hoyle, the "sixteenth" edition of 1775, had many competitors as the work had entered the public domain in 1774. The authorized edition was published by a consortium headed up by Rivington, Wilkie, Crowder and Baldwin and despite losing their copyright protection, they were certainly the most aggressive in creating new editions of interest. They hired Charles Jones to edit Hoyle's Games Improved and brought out an edition in 1775 to compete both with their own book and with other "improved" editions. But I would argue that their second edition of 1779 is the most important edition of Hoyle published after his death in 1769.

Payne's Maxims for Whist

There is a hint of the publishers' strategy in the 1775 edition. The book expanded the section on whist to include the text of another work, Maxims for Playing the Game of Whist, London 1773. Maxims, by William Payne, was the second book in English on the game of whist after Hoyle. It sold well with two more editions appearing in 1778 even though it also appeared within the 1775 Hoyle's Games Improved.

HGI also added thirty pages about new games (billiards, cricket, Tennis quinze, hazard and lansquenet) to the two hundred pages of Hoyle's original writing. Of most interest is the inclusion of the newly revised rules of cricket:
Printed by Permission of Mr. Ridley in St. James's-Street. The Laws of Cricket; Revised at the Star and Garter, Pall-Mall, February 25, 1774, by a Committee of Noblemen and Gentlemen of Kent, Hampshire, Surry, Sussex, Middlesex, and London.  (page 210)
Mr. Ridley was the last-listed publisher in the consortium and was contributing his rights to the cricket laws which had been printed separately in 1775.

That strategy of incorporating separately printed gaming works into Hoyle's Games Improved continued in 1779 with the inclusion of several important works. 

The first example is an entirely new and greatly expanded section on billiards. "Marker" John Dew wrote a treatise on the game of billiards which he sold to a member of the consortium for four guineas in August, 1776 (British Library Add. 38728 f.55). The book was was not published until 1779, when the consortium issued it both separately and as part of Hoyle's Games Improved. An engraved plate with two views of the fortification billiards table appeared in both books.

The Perspective View of Fortification Billiards

The second is another work by William Payne, "teacher of mathematics." Today, Payne's An Introduction to the Game of Draughts (London 1756) is most remembered for the preface which has been conclusively attributed to Samuel Johnson. (Fleeman 56.1PD/1) A receipt has survived documenting the sale of the Draughts copyright to a member of the consortium: 
London Feb. 11 1779. In consideration of the Sum of Five Pounds and five Shillings by me this day received from Thomas Lowndes I do sell Leave to the said Thomas Lowndes & Partners a right to print for ever in a Book called Hoyles Games a Pamphlet called the Game of Drafts as written by my late Brother William Payne. Witness my Hand. Tho. Payne (British Library, Add. 38728 f.168)
Lowndes was another member of the publishing consortium.

The proprietors advertised the book on November 13, 1779 in the London Chronicle:
This day was published, a new edition, in 12mo, price 3s. only, Hoyles Games Improved: Being practical treatises on the following fashionable amusements, viz. Whist; Quadrille; Piquet; Chess; Back Gammon; *Drafts, by Mr. Payne, with the figure of a Draft Table; *Cricket, as now played by the nobility and gentry; *Tennis; *Quinze; *Mr. Payne's Maxims of Whist; *Hazard; *Lansquenet; *Billiards, by Mr. Dew, with plates...Notes are given to illustrate the games by Hoyle; and those marked * are additional improvements. Revised and corrected by Charles Jones, Esq...N. B. Mr. Dew's Treatise on Billiards may be had separate, price 1s. sewed.
The advertisement highlights the new authors and the inclusion of engravings.

The most import Hoyle after Hoyle
In 1774-5 when the Hoyle copyright expired, it was unclear whether Beaufort, Charles Jones or the Annals of Gaming would become the market leader. With the addition of popular works by John Dew and William Payne in 1779, Rivington and partners won the marketing battle, as is evident by that fact that their Hoyle's Games Improved remained in print for more than 50 years until 1826. That is why I claim the 1779 Charles Jones edition as the most important Hoyle after Hoyle.

  • J. D. Fleeman. A Bibliography of the Works of Samuel Johnson. Treating his published works from the beginnings to 1984. (Oxford: Clarendon Press. 2000).

Monday, July 25, 2011

Hoyle in the Public Domain, Yet Pirates Persist

Perhaps the most amusing of all the Hoyles is the one dated 1778 edited by "Thomas Jones" and published by "W. Wood" of Fleet Street in London. It is a piracy of the 1775 edition edition edited by Charles Jones that I discussed in an earlier essay.

The bulk of both books is a straight reprint of Hoyle which, as we have seen, was off copyright as of 1774. But the new material added by Charles Jones certainly was protected by copyright, and the piracy is astonishing in its brazenness. First, compare the title pages, with Charles Jones on the left and Thomas Jones on the right.

The title is the same and the typography of the list of games is strikingly similar."Thomas Jones" must be a name intended to cause confusion with Charles Jones. Likewise, the publisher's name is invented. No London bookseller or printer named "W. Wood" appears in the British Book Trade Index in the late 18th century. It is a fictitious name reminiscent of those used by the earlier Hoyle pirates in 1743, W. Webster and W. Webb.

It is the verso of the title page that amuses. Compare the authorized "sixteenth" edition of Hoyle's Games (1775) with the 1778 piracy below.

Both passages "To the Reader" carry forward language from Francis Cogan in his 1743 battle against Hoyle pirates (see Levy p141). That passage and the Hoyle autograph appeared in all authorized editions from 1743 to 1775, the signature being reproduced with a woodblock after Hoyle's death in 1769. The note "To the Reader" was omitted in the 1775 Charles Jones Hoyle. The fictitious Wood notes the death of Hoyle and adds his "signature" in letterpress below the note. One wonders why the note was signed "W. Wood" rather than "Thomas Jones." Surely endorsement by a fake author is more assuring than that of a fake publisher!

Most of all, it is the plagiarism of the new material by Charles Jones that galls.I've picked a couple of passages about the games of billiards and hazard to show the blatancy of the plagiarism. The original Charles Jones text is on the left and "Thomas Jones" on the right.

A billiard table is usually about twelve feet long and six feet wide, covered with fine green cloth, and surrounded with cushions to prevent the balls rolling off, and make them rebound. (p202) The length of a billiard table is usually about twelve feet, and the breadth six feet, covered with fine green cloth, surrounded with cushions to prevent the balls rolling off, and make the rebound. (p189)
It is necessary to be perfectly master of these odds, so as to have them as quick as thought...(p225) A person ought to be perfectly master of these odds,, so as to have them as quick as thought...(p211)

I have no idea who printed the Thomas Jones/Wood piracies. The 1778 edition was followed by a second in 1779 (published by "T. Wood" and "signed" by him in type on the verso of the title page), and a third in 1782 (with the verso of the title page is blank). Nor do I know why only three editions appeared--I haven't located evidence of any litigation. Their brief appearance reintroduces piracy to the Hoyle landscape. 

The books edited by Charles Jones, on the other hand, continued to be reprinted for fifty years and were the clear successor to the line of Hoyles established during the author's lifetime.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Hoyle in the Public Domain (1775)

In my last essay, I discussed how English copyright law turned on its head with the 1774 decision in Donaldson v Beckett. Perpetual copyright was gone and Hoyle, one of the best sellers of the 18th century, was suddenly in the public domain. 1775 was to be an interesting year!

On June 2, there was an advertisement for Hoyle's Games Improved, edited by James Beaufort, pictured at left. It was a near verbatim reprint of the "fifteenth" edition of Hoyle with additional chapters, presumably written by Beaufort, on billiards and tennis. It was a very cheaply printed book that was to see a second London edition in 1788. It later became the first American book on card games in 1796, issued in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and .

On June 9, one week later, the "sixteenth" edition of Mr.Hoyle's Games was advertised. It was the last to bear the name of Thomas Osborne in the imprint. Osborne died in 1767 and this was printed by assignment from him for thirteen copyright-holding booksellers led by Rivington, Wilkie, Crowder, and Baldwin. Hoyle had died in 1769 and, like the "fifteenth" edition (1771), his signature appears as a woodblock print. The advertisement disparages what was likely the Beaufort edition:
This is the only genuine edition of Hoyle's Games, with his last corrections and improvements; and the proprietors cannot help giving this caution, that any copy of this book, not signed "Edmond Hoyle," at the back of the title page, is not to be depended upon as Mr. Hoyle's whatever may be pretended to impose upon the public.
A month later, a nearly identical consortium of booksellers headed by Rivington, Wilkie, Crowder, and Baldwin changed their marketing strategy and came out with their own Hoyle's Games Improved, edited by Charles Jones. It reprinted Hoyle, adding Billiards, Cricket, Tennis, Quinze, Hazard and Lansquenet. No longer did they seek to disparage the Beaufort edition, but added more and more games, a strategy that becomes more apparent with the 1779 edition edited by Jones, a book well worth its own essay. Further Charles Jones editions appeared in 1786, 1790, 1796, 1800, 1803, 1808, 1814, 1820, and 1826.

I need to do more work on the final version of Hoyle from 1775. The Annals of Gaming appeared that year, but I have found no newspaper advertisements, so I cannot say when it appeared in relation to the others. It consisted of extracts from Hoyle, with chapters on the games of Hazard, Tennis, Lansquenet, Billiards, Loo, Lottery, All-Fours and Comet, and Pope Joan. The author is given as "A Connoisseur"and portions of the work apparently were printed in Covent Garden Magazine, a periodical which began publication in July 1772. As I said, more work is required.

In any case, 1775 was quite a year for Hoyle!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

When did Hoyle come off copyright?

updated November 18, 2011

Bibliography and the book history are two disciplines that reinforce each other. Previous essays have discussed this at a trivial level--I have discussed how cancels in the physical book have been the result of a new publisher. Here I begin to consider a much broader question--the history of copyright in England and it's impact on the Hoyle bibliography.

As noted in earlier essays, the Statute of Anne (1709) was the first modern copyright statute. The statute gave authors protection of their literary property for a period of fourteen years with an additional fourteen years should the author still be alive.
Aside: Like Hoyle, most authors sold the rights to their work to a publisher, so it was the publisher who benefited when the author live another fourteen years. It seems an odd bit of policy that rewards the publisher for buying works of long-lived authors!
Hoyle major works were Whist (1742), Backgammon (1743), An Artificial Memory for Whist (1744), Piquet (1744), and Quadrille (1744). Hoyle lived until 1769 so the copyright period would have been 28 years. One would expect the treatises to come off copyright between 1770 and 1772.

In an earlier essay, I noted that Osborne began to sell the works as a collection in 1745 (strangely, only the individual treatises are listed in ESTC. See the discussion here.). Beginning in 1748, the treatises were only available as a collected volume called Mr. Hoyle's Treatises. Osborne published many more collected editions until his death in 1767, just before the "fourteenth" edition of Hoyle's Games was published (discussed here). Hoyle died in 1769 and the "fifteenth" edition, dated 1771 from newspaper advertisements, had a woodblock print of his signature, pictured below. 1771 brings us to the time when the copyrights should be expiring, but...

The collections bring up another question. Was it the collection that was protected by copyright or the individual works? Despite the appearance of collections, I would still expect that it was the individual works that were under copyright, with Whist losing protection in 1770 and the others by 1772.

In fact, the custom among London booksellers tells another story, both about the Hoyle copyright specifically and the length of copyright protection generally. When shares of the Hoyle copyright were bought and sold at the booksellers trade sales (discussed in previous essays), it was the collection and not the individual treatises that were treated as the subject of the copyright.

More importantly, the booksellers contended that the Statute of Anne did not change common law with respect to copyright and that common law copyright was perpetual. The booksellers sought to enforce their view in court, and it was not until the 1774 case of Donaldson v. Beckett that the House of Lords held that the Statue of Anne did take away the common law notion of perpetual copyright. Obviously I am greatly abbreviating 65 years of the history of copyright--for more information see the excellent site Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900)

So by 1774, with Donaldson v. Beckett, copyright was fixed at 28 years. Whether it was the individual or collected works that were protected, the best-selling Hoyle was, for the first time, clearly off copyright.

With this bit of history behind us, let us return to bibliography. Would you be surprised to see that 1775 was an interesting year for Hoyles? Stay tuned.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Every Cancel Tells a Story, Don't It (part 3)

In 1743 and 1744, Francis Cogan published five books by Hoyle: "second" through "fifth" editions of Whist, An Artificial Memory for Whist (see my earlier post),  Backgammon, Piquet, and Quadrille. In 1745, Thomas Osborne bought the Hoyle copyright from Francis Cogan. For the story, see my article "Pirates, Autographs, and a Bankruptcy." It turns out that Osborne must also have bought some unsold copies from Cogan as well. Every cancel tells a story...

The publication history of Piquet is rather odd. It was first published by Cogan in 1744. There is a 1745 edition "printed for Thomas Osborne" with no statement of edition, followed by a "second" edition printed for Osborne in 1746. Quadrille follows the identical pattern. Osborne followed Cogan's "fifth" edition of Whist with "sixth" and "seventh" editions. Osborne incremented the edition number for Whist, but not Piquet or Quadrille. Why?

A bibliographer would say that Osborne's edition statements were all correct. His "sixth" edition of Whist was a later setting of type from Cogan's "fifth". On the other hand, the 1745 versions of Piquet and Quadrille were from the same setting of type as the Cogan's-- reissues with cancelled title pages (one of which is pictured at left). We can infer, then, that Osborne bought unsold copies of Piquet and Quadrille from Cogan. Osborne's "second" editions were reset and therefore new editions.

There was an additional oddity in Osborne's reissue of Quadrille. Look at the image below of page 44 and the facing page. There is the catchword "To" at the bottom of the left hand page, so one would expect "To" to be the first word on the next page.

(click to enlarge)
Circled in red is the stub of a cut out page. Reference to Cogan's edition of Quadrille provides an answer. Page 44 concludes the text, but after it was an unnumbered page with a  note "To the Reader," explaining the catchword. On the verso of that page was an advertisement for Cogan's "fourth" edition of Whist. At the time, Osborne was selling a "sixth" edition of Whist and would not want to confuse the public about what was available. Osborne instructed the binder not only to cancel the title page, but to delete the leaf after page 44. The deletion is another fact about the physical book that a bibliographer must observe, record, and, one hopes, explain.

Osborne was not always precise about his edition statements. Cogan published Backgammon in 1743 and I've never seen any hint of a reissue by Osborne. In fact Osborne published an edition in 1745 with a new setting of type. A bibliographer would call that a second edition. Osborne did not.

It is certainly possible that Cogan sold Osborne copies of Whist, Artificial Memory, and Backgammon as well and that Osborne reissued those with his own title page. If so, none have survived, but the reissues of Piquet and Quadrille let us infer that Osborne bought more than just the Hoyle copyright from Cogan.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Every Cancel Tells a Story, Don't It? (part 2)

I have two copies of the "fourteenth" edition of Mr. Hoyle's Games, one with a cancelled title page. What story does this cancellation tell?

(click to enlarge)
(click to enlarge)
The original title page is above to the left and the replacement to the right. The text is the same (though the replacement has an extra rule below the statement of edition), but they are clearly different settings of type. Both title pages bear the imprint is "Printed for Thomas Osborne, in Gray's-Inn; Henry Woodfall, and Richard Baldwin, both in Pater-noster-row." The book is undated, but it was first advertised in the St. James's Chronicle or the British Evening Post of December 12, 1767. 

Differences on the verso of the title page are more apparent and provide a first clue:

(click to enlarge)
(click to enlarge)
The advertisement on the left says that  no copies are genuine, unless signed by Edmond Hoyle and publisher Thomas Osborne, though in fact the book is not autographed. The advertisement on the right calls for the signature of  the author only, and in fact Hoyle's autograph is present. 

There is a further clue in the newspaper advertisement. It contains a statement of responsibility different from the title page, beginning "Printed by assignment from T. Osborne..."  (emphasis added) for Woodfall, Baldwin, Crowder and Wilkie, more booksellers than are listed on the imprint. Can we explain the differences?

In an earlier post, I discussed the Thomas Osborne trade sale of July 1767. At that time Osborne left the trade, selling all of his books and copyrights, including his share of the rights to Hoyle. A month after the sale, Osborne died, suggesting that gave up publishing because of illness. This, then, was the first edition of Hoyle published after Osborne's death. Wilkie, one of the new booksellers listed in the newspaper advertisement, purchased a share of the Hoyle copyright at the sale.

Osborne (and Hoyle) had signed the "tenth" through "thirteenth" editions of the work, and as printed, the title page of the "fourteenth" called for his signature. Was Obsorne's death enough of a reason to justify the expense of cancelling the title page? Perhaps, but it seems odd that only the verso was changed. Why not change the imprint on the title page itself to reflect accurately the booksellers who were selling the book?

I only can speculate that the booksellers were wrestling with the mechanics of getting Hoyle to sign the books. Hoyle and Osborne had a relationship of more than twenty years dating back to Osborne's purchase of the Hoyle copyright in 1745. Hoyle was under contract to sign the books for Osborne (see my "Pirates, Autographs, and a Bankruptcy" p144) and Hoyle signed the unbound books. Perhaps the new publishers had no relationship with Hoyle and didn't know how best to obtain his signature. Perhaps they found it easier, or more comfortable, to send Hoyle a stack of the substitute title pages, rather than the entire book. Perhaps the new publishers had the book bound before obtaining the signature. Yes, all speculation, and we'll never know for certain.

It is clear that the cancel somehow relates to the death of Osborne, and it seems strange that the imprint was not corrected. 

Note: Most copies have the cancelled title page, though there are some, like one of mine, with the original title. Interestingly, there are two copies of this book that have both title pages, one at the British Library (shelf mark 7921.dd.2) and one at the Bodleian (shelf mark Jessel f.565). A bibliographer would consider the "ideal copy" to be the one with the autographed title page only--that was clearly the version that was intended to be published. Have I mentioned the bibliographer's mantra--examine as many copies as possible?


David Levy, "Pirates, Autographs, and a Bankruptcy: A Short Treatise on the Game of Whist by Edmond Hoyle, Gentleman," Script & Print, 34 no. 3 (2010): 133-61.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Every Cancel Tells a Story, Don't It? (part 1)

Cancels are a frequent in eighteenth century books and they are a lot of fun for bibliographers. So, with apologies to Rod Stewart, we will look at the story told by some cancels in an 18th century Hoyle.

What is a cancel? It is inevitable that errors are discovered after a book has been printed. Often errors are corrected in a list of errata added to the work. More dramatically, when the author or printer or publisher could justify the added expense, erroneous leaves could be cancelled--removed from the book and replaced with substitutes. When a leaf was to be cancelled it was generally slashed at the printer's shop with a knife. The printer would print a replacement leaf and send it to the binder along with the unbound book. The binder would trim away the defaced sheet leaving a small stub at the gutter and paste the replacement sheet to the stub (Gaskell pp134-6). The cancel is thus a physical fact about the book, one the bibliographer is expected to identify and describe.

More interesting than the fact of the cancel is reason for the cancel. Did the author change his mind? Were there serious errors in setting the type? Was there concern about libelous, offensive, or seditious material? Often, the question cannot be answered--all that survive are copies of the corrected book and the reasons for correction remain a mystery. Other times, the binder forgot make the substitution in a particular copy and by comparing it with a more common corrected copy, we can figure out the change and the reason for it. This is another application of the bibliographer's mantra--examine as many copies as possible.

With that background, we can consider the cancellations in Hoyle's The Polite Gamester (Dublin: James Hoey, 1776), where the reasons for change are commercial and more prosaic. The Polite Gamester was the title used for Irish reprints of Hoyle, and is a clear reference to the gaming book that Hoyle drove out of the market, The Compleat Gamester, published from 1674 to1754. The Irish reprints were technically not piracies as the copyright law, the Statue of Anne, did not apply to Ireland.

The Polite Gamester of 1776 contains many cancels. The book has an overall title page (pictured at left), and each individual treatise has a separate title page. Each of the title pages is a cancel--the stub is particularly apparent in one of the section titles below.

Cancel with stub plainly visible
(click to enlarge)

Interestingly, in my copy, one of the section titles that was intended to be cancelled was not. The disfiguration should have alerted to binder to the cancel, but the binder missed this one. This is a rare survival and one that I cherish as a collector.

What is the reason for the cancellation of all the title pages?

To answer that question, we turn to the previous version of The Polite Gamester (Dublin, T. Ewing 1772). If you compare the 1772 and 1776 versions, it is clear that they are the same setting of type throughout. Compare for example the slashed section title above with the complete section title from the 1772 book at left.

The effect of the cancels is to change a 1772 Thomas Ewing book into a 1776 James Hoey book. Why? Thomas Ewing died in late 1775 or early 1776 and James Hoey must have acquired the unsold copies of the 1772 Polite Gamester.  He changed the title pages not out of vanity, but because the title page tells the customer where to purchase the book, no longer from Thomas Ewing on Capel Street, but from James Hoey at the Mercury in Parliament Street.

A bibliographer would call these two books the same edition, as they are mostly from the same setting of type. The later book is a different issue, as it was sold at a different time with a different title page. (Gaskell p315). We will see many similar reissues in the Hoyle cannon.


  • Philip Gaskell, A New Introduction to Bibliography. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1972 (reprinted 1979).

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The (missing) Laws of Whist Designed for Framing

I am an amateur bookbinder, having studied with the patient and talented Eleanore Ramsey. When I don't care much about a book, I'm happy to repair it myself. When I do, I send it to Phil Dusel. Phil does not now have a web presence, but dealers are certain to mention his name when they sell a book he has worked on. See ViaLibri for examples of his superb work. I've never met Phil--we interact by telephone and UPS. 

I called Phil and told him to expect a UPS delivery of an edition of Hoyle's Games for rebacking. The book consisted of autographed copies of the Thomas Osborne editions of Hoyle's treatises on Whist (1746), Quadrille (1745), Piquet (1746), and Backgammon (1745) all bound together, as is typical of the copies I have seen. The text block had broken in several pieces and the spine was not salvageable, but the boards and text block were in reasonable condition and worth preserving. After he received the book, he called with a surprising question. "Is it possible there was a plate removed from the book between the treatises on Whist and Quadrille?"

(click to enlarge)

At left is what Phil saw, photographed in raking light, so that some of the impressions of the absent "plate," circled in red, are visible. Rotating the book 90 degrees would make visible similar impressions in the paper running parallel to the spine.

I was a bit disappointed that I had never noticed the impression, but quickly knew what had caused it. To understand the story, we must go back to Hoyle's first publisher, Francis Cogan.

Cogan bought the rights to Whist from Hoyle, but before he could issue a second edition he was the victim of piracy. He had planned to sell the book for one guinea (21 shillings), but was forced to meet the pirate's price of 2 shillings. For the full story, see my article "Pirates, Autographs, and a Bankruptcy." Cogan was desperate to recover from his bad investment and found some interesting ways to make more money from the copyright. One was to reprint the Laws of Whist, a small section of the Whist treatise, and sell it separately. Cogan advertised in the General Evening Post of March 5, 1743:
At the particular desire of several persons of quality, the laws of the game are printed on a fine Imperial paper, proper to be framed or made screens of, that the players may have 'em before them to refer to, if any dispute should arise. Price 2s. 6d.
Interestingly, Cogan was selling the Laws for more than the 2s. he charge for the full book. Unfortunately, no copies of Cogan's Laws survive.

Cogan later published additional treatises on Backgammon, Piquet, and Quadrille and sold the copyright for all of them to Osborne in 1745. For a time, Osborne continued to sell the works individually, reprinting them as necessary. His October 26 advertisement in the London Evening Post offered the four treatises and the Laws for sale "at 1s. each, or 5s. the whole bound; and those that take the whole together, have the binding gratis in a neat pocket volume..."

So what Phil was seeing was the impression left by the folded Laws of Whist, originally folded and bound into the volume, but apparently removed by the purchaser after sale, perhaps to hang near his whist table. What a shame!

The Osborne edition of the Laws of Whist is rare. ESTC lists a single copy at the Bodleian Library. It is still bound with the four treatises and must be unfolded carefully to its full size of 38.5 by 24.6 centimeters. I've seen a second copy in the Taxe Collection at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, although it is not catalogued. There is apparently a third copy in the collection of the United States Playing Card Company, unfortunately now closed to the public (see Hargrave p414). My niece discovered another copy in Special Collections at Vanderbilt University. I know of no others. As I don't own a copy, I'm unable to provide a photograph, though an image is available to subscribers on ECCO.

But the real tragedy happened on July 28, 1767. On that date, a month before his death, Osborne left the trade and sold his books and copyrights by auction to other London booksellers. I'll save a discussion of the Hoyle copyrights for another essay, but unsold at the auction were 325 copies of "Hoyle's Laws of Whist, a sheet." With no purchasers, the sheets were undoubtedly treated as scrap paper and disappeared forever.

We are left with three copies of the Laws and the impressions left when copies were removed from surviving books, impressions that bookbinder Phil Dusel was the first to notice.

Note: Look for the missing Laws of Whist in the collections with the "sixth" or "seventh" edition of Whist. It will not appear in all of them. With the "eighth" edition and beyond, the Laws were never included.

  • Catherine Perry Hargrave, "Bibliography" in A History of Playing Cards and a Bibliography of Cards and Gaming. (New York: Houghton Mifflin Company. 1938) pp368-446. Reprinted in facsimile (New York: Dover. 1966).
  • A Catalogue of Books in Quires and Copies, being the Genuine Stock of Mr. Thomas Osborne, of Gray's-Inn, which will be Sold by Auction, At the Queen's-Arms Tavern, in St. Paul's Church-Yard, On Tuesday, July 28, 1767. A photocopy of this catalogue, with prices realized in the hand of bookseller Longman, is available at the British Library. See their "Guide to Sale Catalogues."

Friday, July 1, 2011

Late Hoyles, Early Slipcases

(updated September 20, 2011) 

When you buy a new hardcover, what do you do with the dust jacket?

When dust jackets were introduced in the early 19th century, there were intended to be thrown away either by the bookseller or by the customer. When 19th century examples survive, they can be worth substantially more than the book. For example, ViaLibri lists multiple copies of Anthony Trollope's How the "Mastiffs" Went to Iceland (London: Virtue & Co., 1878) for sale in the range of $600 to $800. Dust jacket researcher Mark Godburn  notes in his blog "Nineteenth Century Dust Jackets" that a jacketed copy sold in 2010 at Sotheby's for £6,250, quite a difference! For the dramatic story of a $175,000 dust jacket, see this post in the blog Booktryst.

The earliest dust jackets seem to be slip cases, also known as sheaths. A book with unprinted paper wrappers could be sold in a printed slip case that would show the title and author of a work. It turns out that a latish Hoyle, expanded by others sixty years after his first book, was one of the earliest examples. Pictured below is my copy of The New Pocket Hoyle (London: printed by T. Beslsey for Wynne & Scholey, 1802) showing both slipcase and text in red wrappers.

(Levy copy. Click to enlarge.)

It is interesting to note that this edition was issued in three different bindings. The publisher advertised The New Pocket Hoyle in The Hampshire Telegraph & Portsmouth Gazette of June 6, 1803, noting "This day is published, elegantly printed by Bentley, in a beautiful pocket size, price 4s. neatly done up to slip in a case; 5s. 6d. calf elegant; 8s. morocco, with silver lock." Calf would be a cheap leather binding and morocco, the finest. I've seen a number of copies in original (nearly disintegrated) calf, but I've never a copy in morocco.

A second example from another publisher is Hoyle's Games Improved and Selected as a Companion to the Card Table (London: R. Baldwin and others, 1803). This book is given as one of the earliest examples of a publisher's paper binding in Ruari McLean, Victorian Publishers' Book-bindings In Paper (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1983) and is illustrated on p19. My copy appears below.

(Levy copy. Click to enlarge.)
These two books illustrate the bibliographical quagmire of Hoyle. His work had been off copyright for more than 25 years. Publishers were free to reprint his still extraordinarily popular work, but each sought to distinguish his edition from the others. There were differences in text (editing Hoyle's original writing and describing additional games not covered by Hoyle), in size, paper or binding. These were just two of the many Hoyle editions available in the early 19th century and both went through multiple editions in a short time. Identifying and providing descriptions for all the different editions and issues is a daunting prospect. Perhaps you won't find it surprising that I propose limit my Hoyle bibliography to the 18th century, although plenty of challenges still abound.

What do I do with dust jackets? I protect them with covers from Brodart and you should too!