Thursday, October 20, 2011

What's in a Name?

What do you call a book? Generally, this is straightforward—take a look at the title page. However, many of the editions and issues of Hoyle were published without an overall title page, causing problems both for rare book catalogers and for bibliographers. The problems will be highlighted in this essay. The springboard for the discussion is a series of essays I have written--on the Hoyle collections, on the first published edition of Hoyle's works in 1748, and on its four reissues from 1748 to 1755.

First the collections. I have demonstrated that Osborne issued collections of Hoyle from 1745-7 and argued that Cogan likely did as well from 1743-4. These collections are not cataloged as such in libraries or ESTC because there is no overall title page, merely titles for the individual treatises on whist, quadrille, piquet, and backgammon. So, if one looks up Whist.6 in ESTC, the holdings will include all copies of the individual treatise as well as copies where it appears as a collection, that is, in a publisher's binding with other treatises. ESTC will also include copies where it appears with other treatises in a customer binding.

Sometimes the library shelf mark will reveal the nature of the book. For example, the Bodleian Library has a copy of Whist.6 with shelf mark Jessel f.544(1). The parenthetical "one" indicates that Whist.6 is the first title in a volume containing multiple books. Jessel f.544(2) is Obsorne's reissue of Cogan's Quadrille, and so on. Other times, the library will provide copy-specific notes. The Beinecke Library at Yale has a copy of Whist.6 and they note that the book is bound with Quadrille, Piquet and Backgammon. While the shelf marks and notes tell that the books are bound together, there is no clue as to whether the books were issued as such by the publisher or bound by the customer. On the other hand, ESTC shows a University of Texas copy, shelf mark, GV1277.H89 1746, and only by checking their online catalogue do we learn that it is also bound with Backgammon of 1745. Whether Quadrille and Piquet are included, I don't yet know.

The early Dublin collections are less problematic because they were issue with a collected title page, The Polite Gamester, and are so cataloged in ESTC and elsewhere. 

A different sort of problem appears with the first collected edition of Hoyle and its four reissues. For convenience, I'll repeat the five books:

[Aside: I am deliberately distinguishing between the terms "collection" and "collected edition." I am using "collection" for a reissue of books in a publisher's binding which were also issued separately. An "edition" requires a new setting of type as was the case with Osborne.1748 where the treatises were not issued individually.]

These books are quite awkward to name and hence to catalogue. Osborne.1748 is problematic because there is no overall title page. There are fortunately strong hints that the book is a single collected edition and not a collection of separate works. First is an overall half title, Mr. Hoyle's Treatises, although the half title may not survive in any particular copy. Second, the pagination and signatures are relatively continuous, suggesting it was printed as a unit. In fact ESTC catalogs it using the half title.

Absent those clues, it would be easy to imagine the book cataloged as four separate books, particularly since the imprint and date appear only on the section titles and not on the half title. Indeed  ESTC also lists an "eighth" edition of whist as ESTC T79889, cataloging the book as though it were a collection. I've seen one of the two copies listed there and it includes all the treatises and the half title--perhaps the cataloger was not used to identifying the book from the half title. I'll have to check on the other copy, but I suspect that this is a ghost entry in ESTC and the holdings should be merged into Osborne.1748, a book catalogued as Mr. Hoyle's Treatises based on the half title.

Reeve.1748 and Reeve.1750 are clearer, because they have the overall title page The Accurate Gamester's Companion. Both books are cataloged under that title, even though a number of copies also have the Osborne half title.

The problem returns with Osborne.1750. I have a copy with the same half-title used in Osborne.1748. Unfortunately most copies lack the half title and the ESTC catalogers did not call the book Mr. Hoyle's Treatises, as they did for Osborne.1748. The book is identified by the section title for whist and the title is given as the "tenth" edition of A Short Treatise on the Game of Whist, printed for T. Osborne, 1750. Fortunately ESTC notes that it includes the other treatises. I do think this should be called Mr. Hoyle's Treatises.

Similar is Both.1755 where none of the copies I have seen has an overall half title or title page. As with Osborne.1750, ESTC catalogs the book based on the section title for whist, noting the presence of the other treatises. Here I see no good option. It was jointly sold by Osborne and Reeve, and calling it either Mr. Hoyle's Treatises or The Accurate Gamester's Companion is misleading. Equally misleading, however, is the current practice of calling the book a "tenth" edition of Whist, ignoring the fact that it always appears with Quadrille, Piquet, and Backgammon.Why didn't Osborne add a real title page?

On a separate note, I want to mention three other London Hoyle's listed in ESTC during the time period 1748-55:
  • ESTC T87538 is catalogued as a "tenth" edition of Whist published without the other treatises. I've seen one of the two listed copies and discussed it earlier. It is really a copy of Whist.7 (1747) with the title page replaced by the section title of Whist used for Osborne.1750. Presumably Osborne had some unsold copies of Whist.7 which he spruced up with a 1750 title page to make them salable—making this a reissue of Whist.7
  • ESTC N46285: Looking at the ESTC entry, I cannot distinguish it from Reeve.1750, but I haven't seen either of the two listed copies. 
  • ESTC T224799: This is a piracy of the Whist section from Osborne.1748. Only a single copy survives at the British Library. There is no record of any litigation. It is an octavo, rather than a duodecimo, as were the authorized Hoyles, and the book is not autographed by Hoyle or Osborne.

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