Monday, November 21, 2011

Hoyle's Games Improved, Charles Jones (1800)

updated May 5, 2013, having located a copy of the separately published Treatise on Game Cocks

I have written about the Charles Jones editions of Hoyle a number of times. The booksellers who had owned the recently-expired Hoyle copyright brought out the first Charles Jones edition in 1775, followed  by a much more important edition in 1779. The work stayed in print until 1826, adding sections on various games with each new edition—it was the dominant edition of Hoyle for fifty years. This essay focuses on the edition of 1800, not because it is itself a particularly interesting work, but because it is the first for which the publishers' business records survive. The records tell an interesting story about the economics of bookselling in London at the turn of the 19th century. 
First, a short digression: There was a the third edition in 1786 and a fourth in 1790. The latter is the most collectible of all the Jones Hoyles as it is the first to mention the game of "goff or golf," "the favourite summer amusement in Scotland." (p288) The book is one of the earliest listed in Donovan & Murdoch, the standard bibliography of golfing literature. There are serious book collectors in the golfing world and the 1790 Jones edition of Hoyle commands a substantial premium over any of the others.

Copisarow copy
(click to enlarge)

At left is the title page for the 1796 fifth edition, bearing the imprint "printed for R. Baldwin,  B. Law, C. Dilly, T. Payne, W. Lowndes, James Scatcherd, E. Newbery, S. Bladon, G. and T. Wilkie, W. Miller and W. Stewart," a group of eleven booksellers.


Copisarow copy
(click to enlarge)

The title page for the sixth edition of 1800, pictured at right, shows the addition of some new games: Vingt et un, Reversis, Put, All Fours, Speculation, and an essay on Game Cocks. It also has a somewhat different imprint—Law, Dilly, Bladon and Miller have disappeared from the 1796 edition. Bedwell Law died in 1798; Samuel Bladon in 1799. Charles Dilly retired leaving Joseph Mawman as his successor. (See the British Book Trade Index)

Likely, Miller sold his interest to another bookseller, perhaps at one of the trade sales I have discussed earlier. The new names in 1800 were the firm of Longman and Rees, J. Lee, T. Hurst and J. Mawman.

It is the addition of the Longman firm that makes the book worthy of discussion. Business records for the Longman firm survive and were published on microfilm by Chadwyck-Healey, with a printed index (see here for one library's description of the archive). The archive tells a great deal about the 1800 publication. To appreciate the information in the archive, it is helpful to see the collation formula for the book: 12o: A2 B-O12 P10. This means that the book was printed as a duodecimo, that is with twelves leaves to each sheet of paper. Gatherings B through O make thirteen sheets (as is typical, there is no gathering J) and the short gatherings A and P were likely printed on a single sheet, the fourteenth.

The entry in the archive is dated May 15, 1800 and begins:
Hoyle's Game by Jones 12o No 3000
Treatise on Game Cocks 12o No 500
Thus, Longman et al printed 3000 copies of the Hoyle and 500 of the treatise on cock-fighting. A single copy of the treatise on game cocks survives at the British Library, printed for Baldwin, Payne, et al, in 1800. When one of the publishers, Wilkie, left the trade, his stock was sold at a trade sale on February 24, 1814. At that sale his 75 copies of the Treatise on Game Cocks went unsold, representing, as we shall see, more than half of the books he was allocated in 1800. The treatise must have been a poor seller.

The entry goes on to list expenses in printing the book, expenses which would be shared among the booksellers in proportion to their share of the copyright. The biggest expense was for paper, just over 70£. The Hoyle would have required 42,000 sheets (3000 copies at 14 sheets each). The section on game cocks in Hoyle was 24 pages or 12 leaves, so perhaps the separately published work was 500 copies of one duodecimo sheet. The printer charged 2£ 4s. per sheet for typesetting, a total of 30£ 16s. for the 14 sheets, plus an additional 2£ 17s. for tables, fractions, etc., as they required extra composition. The fact that the printer charged for fourteen sheets confirms that there was no additional typesetting for Game Cocks—that treatise must have been a separate issue of the section from Hoyle.

There were further charges for the engraved plate of billiards,  pictured here from the 1779 edition and for woodcuts of a backgammon and a draughts board. There were charges for meetings at "Coffee House," presumably for food and drink when the publishers met. Lastly, although I have not located any advertisements for the book, advertising charges exceeded 20£. If there are costs associated with binding the books, I cannot discern them from the archive—perhaps each bookseller had his own copies bound. Total charges were 137£ 10s.

The Hoyle sold for 4s., so the entire print run retailed for 600£. The treatise on Game Cocks may have sold for a shilling or two, adding another 25 or 50£ to the income had it been successful. The Hoyle, however, was a success—the 3000 copies must have sold out quickly as a new edition appeared in 1803. Of course this P&L omits the money the booksellers would have had to pay for the copyright. I don't have information about any transactions in the copyright near 1800, but in 1778, Thomas Lowndes paid 1£ 15s. for a 1/72 interest in the Jones edition of Hoyle, making the copyright worth £126 at the time. (British Library, Addison ms 38370 f. 13) Although it must have been worth more in 1800, publishing Hoyle was certainly a profitable enterprise for the booksellers! 

Most interesting is data giving the allocation of books to each member of the consortium. From this, we can calculate the ownership of each bookseller.

booksellerHoylesGame Cocksownership
Longman & Co.250421/12

It is remarkable that shares as small as one part in 144 were traded among the booksellers. Note also that the order of the booksellers on the imprint seems to bear no relationship the size of their ownership interest or the order in which they acquired their shares.

My Hoyle research focuses on the 18th century and so I will stop with the Jones edition of 1800. For those who want to carry on into the 19th century, Longman & Co. continued to be involved in another half dozen editions of the Charles Jones Hoyle through 1826. Comparable business records survive and provide a fascinating look into the economics of the London book trade.

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