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!

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