Monday, December 19, 2011

Bob Short's Short Rules for Short Memories

If the Pigott Hoyles are difficult to sort out, the ones by "Bob Short" are even worse. They were chapbooks (see here and here), cheaply printed and reprinted in great quantity, with very few copies, particularly early ones,  surviving.

From newspaper advertisements in the early 1780s, we learn that "Bob Short" originally published a card with "twelve short standing rules for short memories at the game of whist." (see for example, The Morning Herald and Daily Advertiser of January 31, 1781). I have located no such cards.

He followed this effort with unremarkable abridgements of Hoyle's treatises on whist and quadrille. More charming than the books are their newspaper advertisements. The earliest I have found for the whist chapbook is from Parker's General Advertiser and Morning Intelligencer of February 5, 1783, pictured below, at left. Note the nonsensical claim that the book is "the ninety-ninth edition." Similar advertisements appear through the late 1780s, but if such a book actually was published, no copies survive.

1783 advertisement
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1791 advertisement
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By late 1791, "Short" advertises (above right) the same book priced at 6d., rather than 3d. as in the earlier advertisements, along with a large print issue priced at 1s. He touts the book as "Bob Short's Christmas Box for grown masters and misses" and notes, as we are accustomed to seeing in Hoyle advertisements, "none are genuine which are not signed with the author's name, profession, and place of abode." (The World, December 15, 1791)

The earliest surviving copy, not autographed, is perhaps that advertised in 1791: 
Hoyle Abridged: Or Short Rules for Short Memories at the Game of Whist. With the Laws of the Game, &c. Adapted either for the Head or Pocket. By Bob Short. Printed for the Benefit of Families to Prevent Scolding: And Sold by the Author, at Baker's Coffee-house, Exchange Alley...1791. [Price 6d.]
"Short Rules for Short Memories" by "Bob Short" is too precious a formualation, and in fact Bob Short is a pseudonym for the London stockbroker Robert Withy. Withy advertised his brokerage services in the 1791 edition, directing the public to Baker's Coffee House. His identity is confirmed in a speech delivered to the Eccentrics' Society of which he was a member, published as An Invocation to Edward Quin by John Gale Jones. (Bodliean Libary, shelf mark G.Pamph. 1386(1))

Withy followed up the whist chapbook with a work on quadrille, which was first published in 1793:
Hoyle Abridged, Part II. Or, Short Rules for Playing the Game of Quadrille; With the Laws of the Game, &c. By Bob Short, Author of Short Rules for Whist. London: Printed for, and sold by the Author, at Baker's Coffee-house, Exchange Alley...1793. [Price Sixpence.] 
The work begins with a note to the public:
The great demand for my "Short Rules for Whist," seven thousand having been sold in twelve months, has flattered me so much, that I cannot resist the solicitation of many friends to publish Short Rules at the Game of Quadrille, which I trust will also be found useful and conventient both to the proficient and learner. Bob Short.
The first advertisement for Quadrille, from The Morning Chronicle of January 1, 1793 claims only 5000 copies of Whist had been sold. It is hard to know which number, if either, to believe.

Eighteenth century copies of Withy's works are scarce. According to ESTC, Whist survives in but two copies of the 1791 edition, and one each of 1792, 1793, 1794, and 1795. The University of Nevada Las Vegas has a copy of a 1793 German translation. Two copies of the 1793 edition of Quadrille are extant. 

early 19th century by Freeman
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My earliest copy, pictured at left, is undated. It bears the imprint "Printed by J. Freeman" who's printing activity I cannot date. Nor can I identify the printed text on the marbeled paper wrapper. The paper, pictured below, bears a watermark "Turner's" and a date 1806, suggesting an approximate date for the book.

Watermark from paper used by Freeman
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Backgammon, Bob Short, Jun. (1818?)
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Things explode as we get farther into the 19th century. Additional titles appeared on Chess, Draughts, and Backgammon, often bearing the name "Bob Short, Jun." as author. The books were published individually or bound together as Hoyle Abridged. They were printed so many times by so many printers, it would be impossible to develop a complete list. The most common seems to be a Derby printing by Thomas Richardson (1818?) (see Backgammon, pictured at right). I have others printed in London by Wright (1822) (below), Freeman, Shackell and Arrowsmith (1822) and in Norwich by John Stacy (1833). I've seen catalogue entries for many more: a "twenty second" edition printed for J. Harris (1809), T. & J. Allman (1819, 1820, 1824), Reynolds (1819), A. Dyson (1820), Fairburn (1820), Stacy (1820), Longstreet (1822), Wright (1822, 1823), T. Richardson (1826, 1827, 1828, 1830), Bartlett (New York, 1828), T. North (1829), Lofts (1830), and Beal (1847).

Whist, Wright (1822)
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There is no reason to believe that this list represents even a significant portion of those actually published. The survival rate of chapbooks is extremely low. The proliferation of 19c variants convinces me to stop my research at 1800. Even the 18th century printing history is rendered mysterious by the card with "twelve short rules" and the eight year gap between the first advertisement and the first surviving copy.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Pigott Hoyles

Charles Pigott, Esq. wrote a number of popular satires (The Jockey Club, The Female Jockey Club, and The Whig Club) which offered scurrilous accounts of elite London society. (DNB) Two manuscripts survived his June 1794 death and were published shortly thereafter. One was another satire, The Political Dictionary while the other was a new edition of Hoyle. Like the earlier "Thomas Jones" editions of Hoyle, Pigott's seem to be a pretty blatant piracy of those edited by Charles Jones. Yet the "third" edition introduces new text including a gem that distinguishes it from all other 18th century Hoyles.

A chronology of the Pigott Hoyles is speculative for a variety of reasons. Early editions are not dated. "Third", "fourth", "fifth", and "ninth" editions survive, but those designations are not accurate. No other stated editions survive, though earlier and later books are found without a statement of edition. Newspaper advertisements do not match readily to the surviving books.

Indeed, it is the earliest surviving Pigott Hoyle that is the most uncertain. There is a single copy at the Bodleian Library. It is titled New Hoyle, or the General Repository of Games; Containing Rules and Instructions for playing [sixteen games]...From the Manuscript of the late Charles Pigott, Esq. London: Printed for James Ridgway, York Street, St. James's Square. Perhaps this is the book advertised in The Times of February 10, 1796 as "This day is published, price 2s. 6d sewed, and 3s. bound."

It is the next surviving book, again, with only a single exemplar at the Bodleian, that makes the first uncertain. It is a stated "third" edition and though it is undated, two dozen newspaper advertisements for the "third" edition appear from April 23, 1796 until late 1798. The title itself has changed slightly to Pigott's New Hoyle...containing Rules and Instructions for playing [twenty games]. The Third Edition, Corrected and Enlarged.

Yet bibliographically, this is not a new edition at all! The text is the same setting of type as the earlier New Hoyle with a cancel title page and addenda consisting of 38 new pages. It is instead a reissue of the earlier book. If we read its designation as "third" to mean anything, perhaps the earlier New Hoyle is a "second" edition and there is a still earlier version of which no copies have survived.

The addenda contains descriptions of four new games: cassino, all-four, connections and put. Interestingly, cassino and connections were newly added to the 1796 Charles Jones edition of Hoyle, published March 1796. Put and all-fours did not appear until the 1800 Charles Jones Hoyle. There is clearly some jockeying between the two publishers to add new games of interest.

Legal treatise on gaming
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The addenda also includes a twenty-three page section called "An Epitome of the Statue Laws on Gaming." This is the gem. It is a legal treatise on gaming law in England containing both statutes and case law on the legality of gambling and the enforcement of gambling debts. It is the first suggestion in any edition of Hoyle that the mania for gaming has some legal repercussions.

I have no idea where the text comes from. It seems unlikely that it was in the Pigott manuscript, or it would have been included in the earlier versions of the work. There were a number of 18th century treatises on gaming law, such as The Gamester's Law, 1708 or The Laws of Gaming, 1764, but the text does not appear to be taken from these works. A fuller discussion of the English gaming statutes and legal treatises will have to wait for future essays.

"fifth" edition
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To complete the chronology for the 18th century, an undated  "fourth" edition appeared, in late 1798 or, more likely, in 1799. This was a new setting of type with the addenda now fully incorporated into the book. I have located no advertisements for the "fourth" edition, but advertisements for the "fifth" began to appear in November 1799, continuing into late 1800. Like the "third" edition, the "fifth", pictured at right, was a reissue of the prior edition with a cancel title page.

I have not searched as diligently in the 19th century. There is a "ninth" edition advertised in November 1802, with no hints of "sixth" through "eighth" editions. There is an unnumbered "new" edition dated 1805 which may correspond to the November 22, 1804 advertisement in The Morning Chronicle. Other "new" editions are dated 1810 and 1811. I have not seen enough of the physical books to determine whether any of these are reissues of earlier items. It appears that these "new" editions were all published after bookseller James Ridgway moved  his premises from York Street, St. James's Square to 170 Piccadilly opposite Bond Street.

Interestingly, portions of the book were translated into French as R├Ęgles du jeu de whist, ou, Le nouveau Hoyle, de Charles Pigot.

We are left with the list below and the sense that there are many more editions that have not survived:
  • New Hoyle, 1796?
    • reissued as Pigott's New Hoyle "third" edition with addenda, 1796.
  • Pigott's New Hoyle "fourth" edition, 1798.
    • reissued as Pigott's New Hoyle "fifth" edition, 1800. 
  • Pigott's New Hoyle "ninth" edition, 1802
  • Pigott's New Hoyle "new" edition 1805
  • Pigott's New Hoyle "new" edition 1810
  • Pigott's New Hoyle "new" edition 1811
For me, it is the short legal treatise, first introduced in the 1796 "third" edition, that makes this a Hoyle worth seeking out.

    Monday, December 5, 2011

    From the pen and library of Henry Hucks Gibbs

    I am not the first to collect and studying gaming literature. It is always a special thrill for me to get a copy of a book that belonged to one of the earlier great collections. This essay will focus on one such collector, Henry Hucks Gibbs, Lord Aldenham (1819-1907). Gibbs had a stunning library, of which gaming literature was only a small part. Catalogues of the library were published in 1888 and 1914. ; Sotheby's sold books from the library at auction in 1937 and books turn up in the trade every now and then. A few of them have made their way to me.

    Before looking at some gaming books from the Aldenham Library, let us discuss Gibbs as a gaming author. He wrote The Game of Ombre in 1874, with later editions in 1878 and 1902, all privately published.

    1874 The Game of Ombre
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    Ombre is a 17th century Spanish card game for three players, which evolved into the four-player game of Quadrille, the subject of a 1744 treatise by Hoyle. About Gibbs's book, bibliographer Jessel wrote:
    A full and lucid description of this excellent game. It is a misfortune that the work has never been published, for there is even to-day a constant demand for information on the details of Ombre. (p110)

    uncolored proof
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    As it was privately published every copy I've seen but one has been inscribed by Gibbs to the recipient—and the one without inscription is the most interesting copy of all. It is Gibbs's own copy of the first edition from the Aldenham Library, with many features that distinguish it from other copies of the first edition.  It contains two versions of each of the plates, a colored copy with text and borders such as the one pictured above, and an uncolored proof, such as is pictured at right. Gibbs's copy also contains a proof of an introduction to the second edition and of a supplementary chapter that did not appear until the second edition—an account of Belinda's game of ombre as described in Alexander Pope's Rape of the Lock.

    Gibbs inscription
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    Gibbs letter
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    Two inscriptions from other copies are pictured to the left. In the top photograph, Gibbs presents a first edition to Margaret Eliza Adams, while below is a letter from Gibbs to Lady Alwyne pasted into a second edition. The letter discusses obtaining Spanish cards for playing Ombre as well as scoring counters.


    Bindings from the
    Aldenham Library
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    Back to Gibbs as a collector—the Aldenham library must have been magnificent. Gibbs generally had the books rebound in gentlemen's Victorian bindings, some of which are pictured at right. From left to right, the books are:
    I purchased the two with Morell bindings years apart and from different sources. I was struck to see that they are decorated with the same floral tool in the spine panels.

    The books themselves are worthy of discussion. I described Seymour as a predecessor to Hoyle and noted that his section on Ombre (along with that on Piquet) was the earliest set of rules for a card game sufficiently detailed to teach the game. Gibbs undoubtedly consulted this copy of Seymour as he wrote his own book on Ombre. It is also the copy collated by Julian Marshall in his bibliography of the Gamesters (p382). This is certainly one of my most treasured books because of its associations with Gibbs and Marshall.

    I have another book with similar provenance, though I cannot picture it here as it is off at the binder's for conservation. The book is Thomas Mathews, Advise to the Young Whist Player, 1804, the third important book on whist after Hoyle and Payne. Only two copies of the first edition survive. Mine bears an inscription in Gibbs's hand "Aldenham. 1901. Given me by Julian Marshall." Indeed the provenance is even better, both earlier and later. Julian Marshall bought a copy of Mathews's first, almost certainly mine, at the 1900 Sotheby's auction of books from the estate of Cavendish, whom I have anointed the successor to Hoyle. I purchased the book from the collection of Dr. Albert Ferguson, who wrote a couple of bridge books and put together an important collection of gaming books about which I shall write later. When I look at the Mathews, I see a line from Cavendish to Marshall to Gibbs to Ferguson and then to me.

    Payne's Maxims is the first significant book on whist published after Hoyle's treatise and was incorporated into the Charles Jones edition of Hoyle's Games Improved beginning in 1779. Thomson is a minor Scottish poet, and one can get a taste for his poem from a short excerpt:
    Whist, then, delightful whist, my theme shall be,
    And first I'll try to trace its pedigree,
    And shew what sage and comprehesive mind
    Gave to the world a pleasure so refin'd:
    The copies of Payne and Thomson are also ex-library Albert Ferguson.

    Bookplate of Gibbs
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    Books from the Aldenham Library are easy to spot as they bear an armorial bookplate with the words "Aldenham House. Herts." I hope I've succeeded in sharing the excitement good provenance adds to collecting. What is most astonishing is that none of the sellers of these books noted the provenance in their catalogues. When the books arrived, the bookplate provided a delightful surprise!

    • Frederic Jessel. A Bibliography of Works in English on Playing Cards and Gaming. London: Longmans, Green, and Co. 1905. Available for download (6MB).  
    • Julian Marshall, "Cotton and Seymour's 'Gamesters.'"  Parts 1 and 2, Notes and Queries, 6th ser., 9 (April 26, 1884):321-3, (May 17, 1884): 381-3. Available for download (70MB).