Monday, December 10, 2012

Advice to the Young Whist Player

I have mentioned Advice to the Young Whist Player by Thomas Mathews a number of times. In "More Hoyle Collectibles" I shown one of the tokens with quotations from the book, one that is particularly disparaging of Hoyle. In my essay "From the Pen and Library of Henry Hucks Gibbs" I was unable to show a picture of my copy of the rare first edition of 1804 as the book was out for conservation. The book is back in my possession and I'll take the opportunity to discuss the author and his work in a bit more detail. It is the third important book on the game of whist after Edmond Hoyle's Short Treatise (1742) (much discussed in this blog) and William Payne's Maxims for Playing the Game of Whist (1773) discussed here.

In the Gibbs essay, I discussed the first edition of Mathews as follows:
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.
 The title page and inscription by Gibbs are pictured below. 

First edition (1804)

Inscription by Henry Hucks Gibbs

Rather than naming the author, the first edition, printed in Bath by W. Meyler and Sons, purports to be written "by an amateur." I have not seen a copy of the second edition of 1806, but I believe the title page indicates that Thomas Matthews is the author; I can confirm that his name appears on the third edition of 1808. With three editions in four years, you should have the sense that the book was popular. Indeed Jessel's Bibliography of Works on Playing Cards and Gaming (1905) lists 19 Bath-printed editions through 1832 followed by an undated 20th edition. Jessel notes that after the thirteenth edition, the name is always spelled "Mathews" rather than "Matthews." Two more of the English editions are pictured below:

Sixth edition (1811)
Eleventh edition (1818)
The book was quickly published abroad. There is an 1812 Boston edition "from the second English edition" and one from New York in 1813 "from the fourth London edition" (although the book was printed in Bath rather than London). Boston bookseller Edward Cotton issued Mathews in two works in 1814. The Whist Players Manual: Containing Hoyle's Payne's, and Matthews' Directions, Maxims, and Instructions for the Game of Whist is a small 75 page book consisting of the whist books of all three authors. The same text and same setting of type appears as the first portion of Cotton's Hoyle's Games Improved. Cotton introduces Mathews work as follows:
Mr. Mathews (London) having published "Instructions to the Young Whist player" which have been very highly approved by good Players, it has been thought expedient to add them to this work, that the student may compare the with Hoyle's and Payne's maxims, and directions, and follow such as appear most reasonable and practical.
Cambridge, MA (1847)

Another American edition ("First American from the twentieth London edition") was published by the Cambridge Whist and Chess Club in 1847. Jessel notes an English  provincial edition (Cheltenham: G. A. Williams, 1822) and an edition printed in English in India (Madras: J. R. Hogg, 1825).

Paris (1838)
 The book was printed in Paris in 1838 with parallel English and French texts (see title page at left and opening below) with a second edition in 1848.Yes, Mathews Advice to the Young Whist Player was certainly a best-selling book!

Facing English and French text (1838)

Unlike that of Hoyle, we are fortunate to know something of Mathew's life. Emanuel Green delivered three papers with biographies of prominent Bath citizens before the Bath Antiquarian Field Club in December, 1902, and January and February, 1903.

Green (1903)

The papers were collected in Thomas Linley, Richard Brinsley Sheridan, and Thomas Mathews, Their Connection with Bath (Bath: Herald Office, 1903). The title page, inscribed by Green is pictured at left.

Much of Green's paper discusses and defends Mathews who was involved in feuds and duels with the Sheridan and Linley families. Rather than dredge up old unpleasantness, I'll focus on Green's comments about Mathews and whist:
Besides his social qualifications he has left a much wider repute, more valued and remembered perhaps than all other adventures or duelling squabbles. Bath during this time was the centre or head quarters for the game of whist and in this game Mathews became the leading spirit and authority, being always referred to for many years in all the first circles at Bath on disputed points in the game. His name is well recalled by all players to-day from his having published a little book entitled--Advice to the young whist player...At the Club established in York Buildings in 1790, and in other card rooms it was always placed ready for reference. (page 77)
Green reproduces a portrait of Mathews, shown at right. We don't have a portrait of Hoyle (see "Hoyle's Scoring Method and Whist Counters"), nor am I aware of any portrait of William Payne. I don't consider General Scott, who's portrait appears as a frontispiece in his 1814 Easy Rules for Whist (see "Eighteenth Century Whist Literature") as a significant contributor to the game. So it is delightful to have a likeness of at least one of the early important whist writers.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Unusual Bibliographical Evidence

The battle between Hoyle publisher Francis Cogan and those who pirated his work is detailed in my article "Pirates, Autographs, and a Bankruptcy." One of Cogan's many strategies to combat the pirates was to extract The Laws of Whist onto a single sheet and sell them separately. On March 5, 1743. Francis Cogan advertised the Laws in the General Evening Post:
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.
No copies of Cogan's Laws are known to survive, although they are mentioned in the Jessel bibliography (item 785) and given a separate listing in Rather and Goldwater (item 10). (See "Where Can I Learn More about Hoyle's Writing?") Thomas Osborne republished the Laws in 1746 as I have discussed them many times, most recently in "An Insomniac's Reward."

Bibliographers do not like to rely solely on newspaper advertisements to support the existence of works which otherwise do not survive. The danger is described in the general introduction to the bibliography The  English Novel 1770-1829:
[This bibliography] includes...titles which have not survived in extant copies and whose existence and further details have been ascertained by printing and publishing records or contemporary reviews, or by a combination of corroborative sources such as advertisements and circulating library catalogues. These last two sources must usually be taken together, as some advertising puffs are not by themselves proof of certain publication (some seem to have been wishful thinking or attempts at relaunches)...[Garside, et al, p6, footnotes omitted.]
Can we trust Cogan's advertisement? If frequency is any indication, the answer is yes. I have found the same language in 58 Cogan advertisements from March 5, 1743 to April 14, 1744. The advertisement also appears in all but one of the Cogan editions of Hoyle: Whist.1.1 through Whist.5, Backgammon.1, Memory.1, and Quadrille.1; only Piquet.1 lacks the advertisement. See "Bibliography of the Cogan Hoyles." It certainly seems as though the advertisements are more than wishful thinking.

A recent exquisite and unusual acquisition seems to provide corroboration for the existence of Cogan's Laws. Let us first concentrate on the object and later connect it with Hoyle and Cogan. It is a ladies fan, printed and hand painted on skin, with carved ivory guards and sticks. Be sure to click on the image to enlarge it. Note especially the intricately carved figures on the guard on the right of the fan.

A fan illustrating a game of whist.
Detail of the whist players

The fan shows two elegantly dressed couples playing whist. The gentleman on the right is playing a court card, I believe a knave (jack). Quitted tricks are visible on the green baize top to the carved wooden gaming table.

Exotic bird; wine service

To the left is a servant bringing a carafe of wine and glasses to the players. A young woman carries a stick on which an exotic bird perches.

Ivory sticks
The ivory sticks are delicately carved with four figures in the center, surrounded by lacy floral patterns and two ornamental flower pots. These detailed images (all of which can be enlarged with a mouse click) should give a sense a the beauty of the fan.

My essay "The Fans of Hoyle" looked at two fans from the 1790s with printed text taken more or less from Hoyle. There I noted that a 1735 law required the name of the publisher and date of publication to appear on the fan. As can be seen in the detail below, the whist fan was "Published by M. Gamble, May 3, 1743. According to the late Act." The British Museum website shows other examples of Gamble's work.

Imprint (detail from below rug)

One final detail, at left, lets us connect this fan to Hoyle. A gentleman with a tri-cornered hat and walking stick consults a framed sheet called The Laws of the Game of Whist hung behind the table. Gamble must have copied these from Hoyle's laws as published Cogan: Only Hoyle was writing about whist at the time and it was Cogan's idea to publish the Laws "proper to be framed," perhaps inspired by a similar example of chess laws published 125 years earlier (see "Chess, Hoyle, and a Bibliographer's Speculation"). The image in this fan corroborates the existence Cogan's Laws of Whist. 

Gamble did take some artistic liberties in showing the laws.
Hoyle's first edition of Whist contained fourteen numbered laws. In the second edition (announced in advertisements in March 1743, including that of the 5th mentioned above), the laws were expanded to 25 in number. The additions were another part of Cogan's marketing strategy against the pirates, permitting him to advertise a new work "with great additions". Here, there are but 18 laws, with no legible text to compare to Hoyle's writing.

This lovely fan, dated just two months after the advertisement for Cogan's Laws, corroborates their publication, despite the fact that no copies are known. I will certainly include the Laws in my bibliography of Hoyle. Now if only we could find a copy!

  • Peter Garside, James Raven, and Rainer Schöwerlin, "General Introduction" to The English Novel 1770-1829: A Bibliographical Survey of Prose Fiction Published in the British Isles. Volume 1: 1770-1799. Oxford University Press, 2000.

Monday, November 5, 2012

The New Pocket Hoyle, New York, 1803

I just came across an interesting newspaper advertisement from the Chronicle Express in New York, dated January 2, 1804:
District of New-York,
Be it remembered that on the fifteenth day of June in the twenty-seventh year of the Independence of the United States of America, David Longworth of the said district, hath deposited in this office the title of a book the right whereof he claims as proprietor, in the words following, viz.

THE POCKET HOYLE Containing the Games of

Whist,            |  Cribbage,
Quadrille,          |  Matrimony,
Piquet,        |  Cassino,
Quinze,          |  Reversis,
Vingt-un, |  Put,      
Lansquenet,       |  Connexions,
Pharo,             |  All Fours,
Rouge et noir,    |  Speculation. 

To which is added
The Games of Brag and Chess.

With the practice and rules as established and practiced by the correctest players.

In conformity to the act of the Congress of the United States, entitled "An act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of maps, charts and books, to the authors and proprietors of such copies during the time therein mentioned."

Edward Dunscomb,
Clerk of the District of New-York.
Dec 27.
What book does the advertisement refer to? How could Hoyle, who died in 1769, have a newly copyrighted work in New York in 1803?

Pocket Hoyle 1803
The book is not difficult to identify. I discuss the early American editions of Hoyle in "More Hoyle Collectibles," where I note that Longworth published the second American edition of Hoyle. The first was a 1796 reprint of the Hoyle edited by James Beaufort, issued in Philadelphia, New York, and Boston. The Longworth edition, pictured at right, is quite rare, with the only recorded institutional copy at the Library Company of Philadelphia. Astonishingly, the American Antiquarian Society lacks a copy.

It is a charming book. It truly is pocket sized, 4 1/4" by 2 5/8", and with 13 lines of type per inch, it is difficult to read without a magnifying glass. The binding is decorated red leather, though my copy is a bit shabby and lacks the front board entirely. For such a rare survival, I can't complain too much about condition!

Pocket Hoyle, spine and rear board

Where did the text come from? That, too, is easy to identify. The book is a word-for-word reprinting of The New Pocket Hoyle...Accurately Displaying the Rules and Practice, as Admitted and Established by the First Players in the Kingdom. London: Printed by T. Bensley for Wynne and Scholey, and Wallis. 1802, a book I discuss in "Late Hoyles, Early Slipcases." The book has a lovely engraved title page in addition to that in letterpress. 

Engraved title page
Letterpress title page

There are some minor changes in the title page between the British and American editions: "New Pocket Hoyle" is replaced by "Pocket Hoyle", "First Players in the Kingdom" by "correctest players", and so on. The careful reader will note that the game of vingt-un (twenty-one) is listed only in the American edition. That is clearly an oversight by the printer Bensley, for the game does appear in both books after quinze and before lansquenet.

What is interesting is that copyright for The New Pocket Hoyle was one of three copyrights in Hoyle traded among the London booksellers at the trade sales. See the essay "More on the Hoyle Copyright." Though much of the contents were in the public domain by 1802, the work was deemed worthy of copyright protection by the London trade. So the text was under separate copyright in the United States and in England. It would be interesting to know if there were any contractual relationship between the London and American publishers, but that seems unlikely. Undoubtedly a copy of the book made it from London to New York where David Longworth reprinted the work and registered the copyright.

It is odd that the same literary work had different owners in London and America, particularly as many London booksellers had distribution arrangements in the States. The situation is a consequence of the lack of international copyright. Ireland, of course, provides another example of multiple ownership of the same work, as English copyright law did not extend to Ireland until the 1800 Act of Union. I have frequently discussed Irish reprints of Hoyles (principally in "Early Dublin Editions of Hoyle", "Individual Treatises in Ireland"  and "The Polite Gamester") where custom rather than law protected copyright. I noted an instance where custom broke down in "A Copyright Fight in Dublin?"

I mentioned that Longworth edition of Hoyle is the second to appear in America; the first, the reprint of the Beaufort Hoyle, was apparently not copyrighted. So, this small, rare, and charming books is the first Hoyle to be protected by copyright law in the United States.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Eighteenth Century Backgammon Literature

As I've discussed many times, in the 1740s, Hoyle wrote short treatises on the games of whist, backgammon, piquet (with a section on chess), and quadrille. To establish context for his work, I surveyed the contemporary literature for some of the games in the essays "Eighteenth Century Whist Literature" and "Piquet and Quadrille Literature." This essay completes the survey by looking at backgammon.

Backgammon is mentioned in The Compleat Gamester (1674), a work I discuss in "The Predecessors of Hoyle," but it is really in the 18th century that we get the first works devoted to the game. Interestingly, the first two are poems.

Pax in Crumena is a series of bawdy poems written in 1713 by Thomas Rands, one of which is "A Game of Back-Gammon, Play'd by My Lord and my Lady." In it, the vocabulary of backgammon is used to create sexual metaphor, as is evident in the second verse:
Cinque Trea, the first Night,
Did yield her Delight,
And she made a Point with the same:
Size-Ace the next Throw, or she's ruined quite,
And in danger of loosing the Game:
See how bad her Case is,
For up came Two Aces,
And she is not pleased atall.
Adieu my Delight;
I'm Gammon'd Out-right;
What no more to Night
For my Merkin, my Jerkin, and my Water Firkin?
My Lord, your Two Aces are small. 
Only the very curious should seek definitions of the unfamiliar terms in the last lines (NSFW).

A more substantial effort is Back-Gammon or the Battle of the Friars by Daniel Bellamy, 1734, reprinted in his collection Miscellanies in Prose and Verse, 1741. The book is known for its charming frontispiece, pictured below. 

Bellamy, Back-Gammon, 1734.
What is more remarkable is that the poem describes the moves in a game of backgammon, certainly constructed for the poem. Nonetheless, it is the first game ever recorded, played between the "dougthy friar" Fabris and his brother friar Vituleo. The description begins:
For the first Onset Fabris did prepare,
And Quator Size began the mighty War.
(This was a Service he perform'd by Rote,
And got the * Point that suited with his Coat)
          [in a footnote * = The Parson's Point]
Vituleo then, two Sixes by his Side,
Came rushing forward with a manly Stride.

Fabris as yet conceal'd his inward Pain,
Duce Ace oppos'd, but Oh! oppos'd in vain:
Homeward three Pace mov'd, he singly stood,
And stopt directly in Vituleo's Road.
This is my Pris'ner, Sir, Vituleo cries,
And if he meets me once again, he dies.
Rick Janowski has recreated the entire game, which, in modern notation, is:
     Fabris            Vituleo
1)   6-4   8/2 6/2     6-6   24/18(2) 13/7(2)
2)   2-1   13/10       2-1   18/15*
3)   6-6   ----        3-3   18/15 8/5(3)
4)   3-1   bar/21      2-1   6/4* 5/4
5)   4-4   ----        3-3   13/10(2) 6/3(2)
6)   5-4   ----        5-2
The play is quite weak by modern standards. Fabris should play 24/22 6/5 for his second move and bar/22 6/5 is somewhat better for his fourth. Vituleo's second move is a blunder (7/5 6/5 is much stronger), as is his third move, which should be 8/5(2) 6/3(2). The position, with Vituleo to play 5-2 is:

Vituleo (white) to play 5-2.
Vituleo will certainly play 13/8 10/8 completing a prime (six points in a row), leaving Fabris with three trapped checkers. Apparently Fabris resigns:
Vituleo presses on with Cinque and Duce,
And made the future Blows of little Use.
This for a Rampart he design'd to keep,
Or'e which the nimblests Warrior could not leap.

In safety now the Olive Squadrons move;
In vain the Ethiopian Pris'ners strove,
In Number Three; they could no farther go,
coop'd up within the Trenches of the Foe.
The Friar almost did his Faith remounce,
And lost a tripple Victory at once. 
All in all, a remarkable bit of backgammon history!

Hoyle's Short Treatises on the Game of Backgammon appears in 1743 and is reprinted throughout the 18th century. I have discussed the publication history throughout the blog and will not repeat it here, other than to show the title page at right. It is the first instructional book on the game of backgammon and the advice, though superficial, has stood the test of time remarkably well.

One other backgammon book appears in the 18th century: Back-Gammon. Rules and Directions for Playing the Game of Back-Gammon, London: printed for H. D. Symonds, and Lee and Hurst, 1798. Symonds was a London bookseller who published hundreds of works from the 1780s into the 19th century. A handful of those books related to games:
  • New Royal Game of Connections, 1794, apparently an original work by an unknown author.
  • Payne, Introduction to the Game of Draughts, a work first published in 1756 and incorporated into the 1779 edition of Hoyle's Games Improved (see "The Most Important Hoyle after Hoyle)".
  • Three editions of Chess Made Easy in the late 1790s, a pastiche of earlier writing on chess, much of which is taken from Hoyle. For example, in Chess Made Easy, we read "In order to begin the game, the pawns must be moved before the pieces, and afterwards the pieces must be brought out to support them." (pp28-9) Hoyle had written in 1744 "You ought to move your pawns before you stir your pieces, and afterwards to bring out your Pieces to support them." (Piquet p55). Hoyle was in the public domain at this point, so there is no suggestion of piracy.
Back-Gammon 1817 reprint

It won't be surprising then, that Symond's backgammon publication was also lifted from Hoyle. There are a couple of pages of on the origins and rules of backgammon, but the rest of the book is a slight rewording of Hoyle. The book was reprinted verbatim in 1817 for J. Harris, as pictured at left.

Reprints of Hoyle such as Chess Made Easy and Back-Gammon present quite a challenge for the Hoyle bibliographer. The works are nowhere identified as his writing, but are clearly derived from it. None of the earlier Hoyle bibliographers {see "Where Can I Learn More about Hoyle's Writing?") have included these works in the Hoyle canon, where clearly they belong. Why didn't Hoyle's name appear on the title page?

Monday, October 1, 2012

An Insomniac's Reward

One night last week, I was having difficulty sleeping. At about 3:30am I began reading a novel on my smartphone in bed. A half hour later, as I was flicking through the virtual pages, the phone notified me of a new email. A British bookseller had just listed a book in an online database that matched one of my registered wants:
A Short Treatise on the Game of Whist, containing the Laws of the Game.[With] A Short Treatise on the Game of Quadrille. [With] A Short Treatise on the Game of Piquet, [With] A Short Treatise on the Game of Backgammon., HOYLE (Edmond) London for T. Osborne -46, 1745,  , SPORT, GAMES,, 5 parts in one vol., second to sixth editions, 12mo, contemporary sheep, sides and joints somewhat worn, with a large folding table "Laws of the Game of Whist", torn but intact, contemporary inscription on front fly-leaf, a good copy.
I'm embarrassed to say how many copies of this book I own, but what leaped out at me here was the large folding table, the exceedingly rare Laws of the Game of Whist! There was to be no more sleep that night. I jumped up, ran to the computer, and ordered the book immediately through the database site. Occasionally you get an email back from the listing dealer that the book is no longer available, so I nervously awaited confirmation that the order was processed. At 9:15 that morning, I received an email that the order was processed and the book was on its way to me from Great Britain. Anxiety ended and, indeed, the book is now in hand. 

I have written about the Laws a number of times. In "Pirates, Autographs, and a Bankruptcy" I noted the Francis Cogan first published the laws in 1743 as a way to increase revenue after pirates forced him to lower the price of Hoyle's Whist from a guinea to two shillings. (page 142). In "Chess, Hoyle, and a Bibliographer's Speculation" I wondered if Cogan were inspired to publish the laws by similar laws for chess that had been published 125 years earlier. No copies of the Cogan Laws survive.

When Thomas Osborne took over the copyright from Cogan, he reprinted all of Hoyle's treatises, including the Laws. Osborne sold the treatises and laws both individually, and as a single-volume collection. I showed some examples where the Laws, once bound with Hoyle's treatises, had been removed, presumably to be hung near the whist table. Read "The (missing) Laws of Whist Designed for Framing" and you'll get a sense of what I was expecting when the book arrived. That essay also discusses the rarity of Osborne's Laws, with copies known, until now, only at the Bodleian, UNLV, and perhaps at the United States Playing Card Company.

With that background behind us, let us turn to the book itself.

The end of Whist

The picture at right show the folded sheet bound after the treatise on whist and before the treatise on quadrille.

The beginning of Quadrille

The British bookseller noted that the sheet was "torn but intact" and the tears are plainly visible in the picture at left. I'm not too worried about them, however. They are closed tears and the verso of the sheet is blank, so mending tissue won't obscure any text. They should be quite easy to repair.

Here are the Laws unfolded to their full size:

The Laws of the Game of Whist
(Designed for Framing)
Note that the Laws are the size of six pages of text. The book was printed as a duodecimo (12 leaves to the printed sheet) in sixes (most sheets were gathered into two sections of six leaves each). The Laws are thus a half-sheet.

I have been asked if I have any plans to remove the laws and frame them in my library. As attractive as that would be, I can't imagine ruining the book as issued by Osborne. Indeed the only reason that the laws survive is that they are still part of the book, undisturbed for 266 years. The Cogan version of the laws were not bound into a book and I'm sure that's why no copies are known. Certainly, I won't consider removing them.

The "stub"
It is easy to see how the Laws were bound into the book. The Laws as printed had a large left margin which was wrapped around the first gathering of Quadrille. The stub is visible in the picture at left between the first and second gatherings, between pages 12 and 13. 

In "The Osborne Collections of Hoyle (1745-7),"  an essay that still pleases me, I sort out the permutations of the early Osborne Hoyle's. This new copy fits with the third group as it consists of Whist.6, Quadrille.2, Piquet.2 and BG.2. The treatises appear in their normal order and, like other copies from the third group, each treatise is signed by Hoyle. In all copies I have seen from the group, the Laws are either present, or clearly removed, so this copies is made up exactly as I predicted. It's comforting to have my hypothesis in that essay confirmed by another copy of the book.

In discussing the laws of whist, bibliographer Jessel writes that "Similar sheets of the Laws of Piquet and Backgammon were advertised also." (page 136, item 785). I don't think that is correct. I have seen hundreds of contemporary advertisements for Hoyle, and none mention sheets for Piquet and Backgammon. As the new treatises were introduced, the advertisements typically included the paragraph:
N. B. 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 them before them to refer to, if any dispute should arise. Price 2s. 6d. [Old England or The Constitutional Journal, December 17, 1743]
Jessel was perhaps confused because the text does not mention the game who's laws are extracted, but it does appear immediately after the description of the treatise on whist and cannot reasonably be thought to refer to another game. As I discuss in "A Short Treatise on the Game of Brag (1751)," a sheet of laws was advertised for that game, though none are known to survive.

misbound table of contents
Even though I've seen many copies of this book, there are some new things to be learned from this copy. Recall the bibliographer's mantra, which says to examine as many copies as possible. Here, the two-leaf, four-page table of contents for Whist is bound out of order, appearing between pages 76 and 77, rather than at the front of the books, as is typical. What happened?

Here the collation formula for an ideal copy of Whist is helpful: 12o: π1 [A]2 B-G6 H4. Note that most gatherings are six leaves, but gathering A, the table of contents is only two, and H is only four leaves. Looking at pagination, page 76 is H2v and page 77 is H3r. Evidently, the table of contents was printed as part gathering H and the binder was expected to move it to the front of the book. In my copy, the binder failed to do so, and Whist is bound as printed, rather than as it was intended to be issued. The same thing apparently happened with a copy now at the Beinecke Library at Yale, one that I have not seen. 

Similarly, in Piquet, the table of contents appears in a two-leaf gathering at the front of the book. It collates 12o: [A]2 B-F6 G4 and one suspects that [A]2, the table of contents, was originally part of the G gathering. Indeed, my new copy was heavily inked and one can see the offset of G3r on A2v. Note in particular the signature mark G3, circled in red. The G gathering was printed and folded as a six-leaf gathering, ink transferred, and the binder moved the two leaves to the front of the book.

ink offset of G3 on A2r
(click to enlarge)
This is an acquisition exciting both for the rarity of the Laws and quirks in the physical book that reveal details of its manufacture. Never have I been so grateful for a terrible night's sleep. Had I slept through the night, it is easy to imagine that the book would have found its way to a collector in Europe who would have been been notified mid-day, rather than to this sleepless collector eight time zones to the west!

Monday, September 24, 2012

The J. W. Rimington-Wilson Library (part 2)

In "The J. W. Rimington-Wilson Library (part 1)" I looked at the February 1928 Sotheby's auction of Rimington-Wilson library. The Quaritch firm purchased most of the library and sold it through two catalogues over the next year. This essay will trace a handful of lots from the auction to the Quaritch catalogues and occasionally beyond. I will look at Quaritch's markup on representative lots they turned over quickly. I will also look at some particular books in my collection that I can trace back to Rimington-Wilson through these catalogues.

The Sotheby's sale took place over two days, sporting and gaming books on the first day and works on chess the second.  Quaritch offered the books in two catalogues, divided similarly. Their April 1928 was a general one, offering 1348 books in various categories including Americana, Bibles and Theology, Bibliography, and English History and Literature. The Rimington-Wilson books, augmented by others in the Quaritch inventory, appeared in a section on Sports and Pastimes as items 1005-1348.

It is possible to match only a portion of items in the Sotheby's sale with items in the Quaritch catalogue. Sotheby's sold 469 lots totaling approximately 2300 books, only a small number of which are identified in the sale catalogue. For example, lot 88 is :
[Cotton (C.)] The Compleat Gamester. frontispiece. stained, old sheepskin, covers loose. C. Brome, 1709. another edition, old sheepskin, 1725--Hoyle (E.) A Short Treatise on the Game of Back-Gammon, half russia, 1745; and others 12mo. (8). 
The parenthetical eight indicates the number of books in the lot, of which only three are described. Quaritch bought the lot for £2 10s. The three described books appear in the April catalogue as items 1186, 1188, and 1035, and were each offered at £1 10s.Without knowing the other five books, it is impossible to assess Quaritch's markup, but the three identified books alone were priced at 80% premium over the cost of the eight-book lot.

The Rimington-Wilson books in my collection are on all on the game of whist and were not separately listed in the Sotheby's catalogue, though I can find some of them in the Quaritch catalogue. Most likely, they were included in Sotheby's lot 138, the only to include any books on whist:
Hoyle (E.) A Short Treatise on the Game of Whist, signed by the author, half russia. 1744--Maxims for Playing the Game of Whist. half russia. T. Payne, 1773--A Short Treatise on the Game of Loo, half russia. W. Flexney. 1768: and others 12mo. (26). 
The 26 books sold for four pounds. The three identified books appear in the April catalogue as items 1145, 1163, and 1097 each offered at £1 10s. So three of the 26 books sold for 10 shillings less than Quaritch paid for the lot. Incidentally, the treatise on Loo is not by Hoyle, although the title is patterned after those he used.

Perhaps the lot included the Rimington-Wilson books that entered my collection, such as Short Whist by F. P. Watson, to which is added Long Whist by Admiral James Burney. Fifth edition. London: T. & W. Boone. 1854. Quaritch listed it as item 1180, priced at 7s. 6d. The cover and inside appear below, the latter with the signature of J. W. Rimington-Wilson and a note that it was "entered into catalogue."
Watson, embossed cover
Watson, inside cover

The lot may also have included Short Whist: Its Rise, Progress, and Laws by Major A*****. Seventh Edition. London: Longman, Brown. 1840. The book is one of the most common of the mid-19th century whist titles, but the Rimington-Wilson copy is unique. He had it rebound as an interleaved book, that is, he had blank pages bound in between pages of printed text. The blank pages are filled with his manuscript notes. Quaritch offered the book for £1 item 1135 in the 1928 catalogue.

Short Whist, title page

Short Whist, opening

The title page has a note in hand "J. W. Rimington-Wilson with his autograph notes", apparently in his hand. One can get a sense of the interleaving in the picture above at right, where R-W's manuscript notes appear in an inserted leaf on the left, with the text of the book at right. 

Looking at these and other books owned by Rimington-Wilson, I note that his books contain his autograph signature, do not have a bookplate, and were generally in original bindings. Contrast these books with those of Henry Hucks Gibbs, which I wrote about here.

One more gaming lot, before I turn to the chess collection in a future essay. Lot 133 at the Sotheby's sale was knocked down to Quaritch for 10 shillings. It consisted of three rare French gaming works, Le Royal Jeu du Hoc (1644), Jollivet, L'Excellent Jeu du Trictrac (1646), and another copy of Jollivet bound with a 17th century edition of the Maison des Jeux. Quaritch listed the three works in the April catalogue as item 1089 for £2 2s., 1042 for  £2 2s., and 1043 for £3 3s. The total of £7 7s. is a bit less than fifteen times what Quaritch paid for the books!

As an aside, this essay mentions two of the books I would most like to add to my collection. One is the 1744 Short Treatise on the Game of Whist, the fifth edition published by Francis Cogan. The other is Jollivet on trictrac. I have studied trictrac and collected the literature, but have never seen a copy of Jollivet for sale. If I had a time machine, would I go back and have a conversation with Hoyle, or attend book sales such as this Sotheby's auction?

Friday, September 7, 2012

The J. W. Rimington-Wilson Library (part 1)

(updated 10/3/21012 with some pointers from the Exlibris listserv)

James Wilson Rimington-Wilson (1822-1877) was one of the great collectors of books about chess, as well as books about other games and sports. Books from his library are not difficult to find--I showed one example from my collection in "Early Dublin editions of Hoyle" and another in "Eighteenth Century Whist Literature."

In the course of my research on Hoyle, I have learned a bit about the Rimington-Wilson library and how it came to be disbursed. As I don't plan to publish this material, I thought I would collect it in this and another essay, much as I have done with the biographical and bibliographical information (part 1 and part 2) about Hoyle's first publisher Francis Cogan. The sale of the Rimington-Wilson Library is a fascinating peek into the London book trade of the early 20th century.

Rimington-Wilson was born, lived, and died at Broomhead Hall, Yorkshire, England. He was a strong amateur chess player and records of some of his games survive, including a victory over Wilhelm Steinitz, the first official world champion of chess. Rimington-Wilson developed an extensive gaming library, which was maintained and perhaps added to by his son, Reginald Henry Rimington-Wilson (1852-1927).

A number of documents survive describing the collection and its disposition. There is a hand list of his sporting books (horses, dogs, shooting, mountaineering, etc.) at the University of Virginia. After the death of R. H., his son Captain H. E. Rimington-Wilson (1899-1971) ordered the sale of the library by auction at Sotheby's. The sale catalogue appeared as:
Catalogue of the Famous Chess Library, including a fine manuscript of Oliver Goldsmith, together with a selection from the sporting and general library. The property of the late R. H. Rimington-Wilson, Esq. of Broomhead Hall, Bolsterstone. (Sold by Order of Captain H. E. Rimington-Wilson.)...On Monday, the 27th of February, 1928, and the following day. 
Sotheby's catalogues from 1734-1945 are available on microfilm, with hand-written records of purchasers and prices realized (see for example Berkeley's catalogue record here), so we know a great deal about the sale. There were 469 lots, most of which consisted of numerous books, and the the total realized was £9867 4s. As we shall see, the total is a bit deceptive in that a single book accounted for well more than half the total.

Chess historian John Keeble (1855-1939) described the Sotheby's sale in a series of articles published in the Falkirk Herald (cited in the interesting set of notes about "chess libraries, dealers and collectors" called "A Letter to Bert" by Bob Meadley). I will quote Keeble at great length to give a sense of the auction.
The chief chess event this month is the sale, by Sotheby’s (London) on the 27th and 28th, of the Rimington-Wilson Chess library. This famous library was formed by the late Mr J. W. Rimington-Wilson (1822-1877) and has not been added to since his death in 1877. It has always been considered the best in Europe, but as far as is known, Mr. H. J. R. Murray is the only person who has had access to it. The library is rich in manuscripts, the plum of the collection being an autographed chess poem by Oliver Goldsmith--a translation of Vida's "De Ludo Scaccoram", which good judges think is worth £200. The books and manuscripts together number over 2,300. First editions of all the early chess books are included in it, and generally in more than one copy...
A great surprise at the Rimington-Wilson chess library sale was the high price paid for Oliver Goldsmith's MS of his translation of Vida's chess poem. After spirited bidding from three parties it was knocked down to Messrs. Maggs for £5600. This price breaks all records for a chess item, either as a book or manuscript...
On the whole the foreign books sold well, but the English ones made much less than was expected. Two copies of James Rowbothums' chess book of 1562, entitled "The pleasant and wittie playe of the Cheasts renewed", were sold for £56 and £31 respectively, and a first edition of Arthur Saul [which I discuss in the essay "Chess, Hoyle, and a Bibliographer's Speculation"] of which only two other copies are known (one in the British Museum and one in Bodleian) went for £115, and two other valuable works were bound up with it. 
I promised to say something of the low prices for which lots were sold at the Rimington-Wilson sale. The founder of the library took great pains, when opportunity offered, to secure the MSS and books collected by famous players and composers of his time. For instance, he bought George Walker’s library, which included not only rare books, but valuable manuscripts by the Rev. George Atwood and Sir. F. Madden. He also obtained the whole of Bone’s collection and some by Horatio Bolton. He got everything that belonged to the English player and writer, William Lewis, and the famous professional, Lowenthal. Further, he himself made a folio MS of the chess openings.
All the parties I have mentioned fared very badly at the sale, and their literary efforts in the cause of chess were sold for what looks like waste paper prices. English chess owes more to the Rev. George Atwood than it does to any other person. Mr. Murray’s “History of Chess” mentions that George Atwood (1746-1807) joined the London Chess Club in 1787. He was not a strong player, but he made up for this by the industry with which he took down the games played at the club from 1787-1800, including most of Philidor’s games, and almost everything we know of Philidor’s play we owe to him. He recorded the results in three handsome manuscript volumes, and these were knocked down at the sale for ten shillings. A transcript of the Fountaine MS and four others by Sir. F. Madden also fetched only ten shillings.
Bone was an industrious man and an indefatigable collector and recorder of chess problems. In all, the library had 144 MS volumes which he compiled! These were sold in three lots for £13. Horatio Bolton fared a little better. His three volumes fetched £2.
W. Lewis’s autograph MSS filled 33 volumes, and went for 14 shillings. Lowenthal did more than Lewis. He compiled 48 volumes, which were handsomely bound in half Russia, and only ten shillings was bid for the lot.
Perhaps the most pathetic case was an autograph MS of the chess openings arranged by Rimington-Wilson himself. Seventeen large folio volumes of substantial thickness, bound in morocco, £1 the lot! It is to be hoped that some of these will eventually find a home in some permanent library in this country.
The price for the Goldsmith manuscript is striking. Keeble reports an estimate of £200 and a price realized of £5600! It accounted for well over half of the proceeds of the Sotheby's sale. It would be interesting to know where the manuscript resides today.

(Update) With the help of the EXLIBRIS listserv, I can trace the manuscript for another year. American Book Prices Current, VOL. XXXV (available for download) reports on books sales of 1929:
The event of the year at the Anderson Galleries was the sale of the Jerome Kern collection, which took place in ten sessions on January 7 to 10 and 21 to 24 inclusive, and brought $1,729,462.50. (page v)
ABPC notes the quick resale of the Goldsmith manuscript:
Goldsmith (Oliver). MS of his translation of Vida's Game of Chess, 34pp., sm 4to, 679 lines, with but 5 corrections Purchased for Chess Library of J. W. Rimington-Wilson as indicated in his hand, on fly-leaf and in 2 A L S. (1871) of F S Ellis (which are laid in), offering it to Mr Wilson in 1871 No. 335 sale catalogue Chess Library . R. H Rimington-Wilson, Sotheby, 1928 X (596) $27,000.00 (page 717)
X refers to the first days of the Kern sale and 596 is the lot number. At the time, the exchange rate was between 4 and 5 dollars to the pound, so there was at most modest appreciation in a year, with the Great Depression to follow.

Perhaps the low prices for the English books were due to collusion among the booksellers attending the auction.
It has to be stated quite categorically that 'rings', and their subsequent knock-outs or settlements, were the absolute norm in the antiquarian and secondhand book trade through most of the nineteenth and twentieth centures, right up to the 1970s...For the uninitiated, a ring is in being when a number of dealers act in combination and agree not to bid on certain lots, thus destroying the element of competition essential for a proper auction.[Hermann p13]
In any case, it was the Quaritch firm that purchased the vast majority of the Rimington-Wilson lots at Sotheby's. They offered the books in two catalogues shortly after the sale.

Quaritch Catalogue
(Levy Collection)
Quartich Catalogue
Donohue Rare Book Room
Gleeson Library
University of San Francisco

In the next essay, I will trace some lots from the Sotheby's sale into the Quaritch catalogues and out into public and private libraries. 

The Rimington-Wilsons also collected playing cards, although that collection stayed together much longer. It was sold by Christie's in London on November 24, 1971 by Captain H. E. R-W. For a description of the sale, see Sylvia Mann, "A Choice Collection of Playing Cards," Journal of the Playing Card Society, I:1, August, 1972 (available online).

  • Frank Herrmann, "The Role of the Auction Houses" in Out of Print & Into Profit. A History of the Rare and Secondhand Book Trade in the Twentieth Century. Edited by Giles Mandelbrote. London: The British Library, 2006. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Piquet and Quadrille Literature

In "Eighteenth Century Whist Literature," I looked at early works in English on the game of whist other than those by Edmond Hoyle. In a similar vein, this essay will examine early works on quadrille and piquet. As I noted in "Bibliography of the Cogan Hoyles," Hoyle published Piquet in January 1744 and Quadrille in October 1744 and the text remained in print well into the 19th century. What literature predated Hoyle? What else was published in the 18th century?

Editions of The Compleat Gamester and The Court Gamester, discussed in "The Predecessors of Hoyle" mention both games. Unlike whist, there were also separately-published books on both games that predated Hoyle.

For piquet we have the 1651 work The royall and delightfull game of picquet. Written in French: and now rendred into English out of the last French edition. London: printed for J. Martin, and J. Ridley. The French literature on piquet goes back another two decades to Le jeu du picquet, Paris: Charles Hulpeau, 1631, the earliest book in French on any card game. It was reprinted a number of times in the 17th century and is likely what was translated into English in 1651. (See Depaulis, Les Loix du Jeux.)

The only other 18th century book on piquet is A New Treatise on Piquet; in French and English, London: printed and sold for Mess. J. Walter; and R. Davis about 1765. The author is "Mr. de Chateauneuf, captain of the Conde Regiment of Infantry. Acknowledged to be the most able player at Piquet in Europe." I date the book from an advertisement in the Gazetteer and New Daily Advertiser of December 31, 1765.

de Chateauneuf, Piquet
The book is curious. Each opening consists of French text on the left and English on the right. Interestingly, the French title page gives a cost of 18 sols, while the English title says one shilling and sixpence, suggesting that the book was sold in both countries.  It is quite rare, with ESTC recording a copy at the Huntington and two incomplete copies at the Bodleian.

One work on quadrille predates Hoyle—The Game of Quadrille; or Ombre by Four, with its establish'd Laws and Rules, As it is now Play'd at the French Court. The book was printed in London for R. Francklin and is undated, but the book was likely printed in the mid-1720s. It is advertised as "this day is republish'd" in the August 13, 1726 issue of the Daily Post. The title page indicates that it was "done from the French, just printed at Paris." It is an extract from the 1724 work Les Jeux de Quadrille et de Quintille, printed in Paris for Theodore Le Gras.

Hoyle's Quadrille was published in 1744 and two decades later the game must have surged in popularity—three new books appeared in short order. The May 1, 1764 issue of the Public Advertiser notes two of them in adjacent advertisements. The first is A Brief and Necessary Supplement to all Former Treatises on Quadrille, by No Adept, printed for T. Becket and P. A. De Hondt in London. Julian Marshall writes that the book:
...consists mainly of a criticism of Hoyle's quadrille, favourable on the whole, but particularizing the points on which the writer differs from our author. In the dedication "To the Ladies," he tells them that "After reading this little book, you will understand what Mr. Hoyle says as well as any man in England..." ("Books on Gaming" in Notes and Queries, 7th S. IX. February 22, 1890, page 144).
Interestingly, other advertisements (for example, the London Evening Post of February 12, 1765) note that  the book "will go into a fan," suggesting that the text was incorporated into a ladies fan, perhaps like the ones I describe in "The fans of Hoyle."

The second of the advertisements is for another book with parallel French and English texts:
In the press, and next week will be published, at the particular desire of several persons of distinction, in French and English, A Treatise upon Real Quadrille, A work published within these six weeks at Paris, which is totally different from that of Mr. Hoyle, and all other treatises that have hitherto appeared upon this game.
It is not clear what Parisian book the advertisement refers to—no such work appears in Depaulis, the standard bibliography of French books on card games.

Martin, Quadrille
The book was printed in 1764 in London for G. Burnet from the original French of Mons. Martin. Although the publisher is different from the one who published de Chateauneuf's Piquet, the appearance of the book is identical. French and English appear on facing pages. Unlike de Chateauneuf, both title pages give the price of 2 shillings sixpence, in English currency for a sewn binding. Like de Chateauneuf, the book is rare, with institutional copies only at the British Library and the University of Missouri.

de  Bergeron, Free Masons Quadrille.
A third quadrille book appeared about the same time, The Free Masons Quadrille; with the Solitary. Printed by order of the Prince of Conti, Grand Master of the Lodges in France; and revised by Mr. De Bergeron...In French and English. London: printed for J. Walter and G. Burnet, 1765. The book is not recorded in ESTC or Depaulis; Jessel had not seen the book, but found it mentioned in a monthly list of books for 1764 (item 1404 in his bibliography). The price is listed as one shilling in both French and English.

Update April 29, 2015: In addition to my copy, there is one in the Library and Museum of Freemasonry in London, shelf mark A 750 FRE.

Note that Walter and Davis published de Chateauneuf, Burnet published Martin, while Walter and Burnet published de Bergeron. An advertisement in the Gazetteer and New Daily Advertiser of December 12, 1731, brings the three works and the three publishers together:
This day is published, A New Treatise upon Real Quadrille, printed for R. Davis..., J. Walter...; and G. Burnet...where may be had, A New Treatise on Piquette, French and English, by M. Dechateauneuf; and the Free Mason's Quadrille
The three rare works, each with the facing French and English text, are also brought together in my copy, in the elegant contemporary tree calf binding, pictured below.

two views of binding
The bibliographer in me wonders if this was a publisher's binding. The prices of the individual works, both in the title pages and the advertisements, suggests they were sewn rather than leather bound. Indeed the Martin title page explicitly said it was sewn. The one advertisement which mentions the three titles, does not offer the three bound as a single volume. Yet my copy shows no evidence of other sewing, as was apparent in a number of Hoyles, discussed in "Hoyle's 'sixth' edition and progressive ornament damage" here or in "The Osborne Collections of Hoyle (1745-7)" here. Having seen many copies of Cogan Hoyles bound together, I concluded in another essay that Cogan issued collections of Hoyle's separately-published works.

With the overlapping publishers of the three works, their similar appearance, and the single advertisement offering each of them, it seems possible that this is a publisher's binding, though one fancier than I am used to seeing on English gaming books. It is more typical of the bindings of contemporary French gaming books. There are so few copies of these titles, each of which was issued separately, that likely we'll never know if this is a publisher's or a bespoke binding. 


The bibliographical writings of Marshall, Jessel, and Depaulis are detailed in my essay "Where can I learn more about Hoyle's writing?"

Thursday, August 16, 2012

A conversation with Edmond Hoyle

A friend of mine asked me, "If you had a time machine, what would you say to Mr. Hoyle?" I replied:
If I were to tell something to Mr. Hoyle it would be that his name would be immortalized in the phrase "according to Hoyle" and would be recognizable by most people in the English-speaking world more than three centuries after his birth. What would I ask Mr. Hoyle? That question has been running through my head since I saw your post. I decided it's worth a full blog post which I will get to in the next few weeks.
 Here are my top five questions:

(1) What did you do before publishing A Short Treatise on the Game of Whist?

Hoyle was born in 1672 and published his first book in 1742 at the age of 69 or 70. There is absolutely no evidence about any aspect of his life before that time, other than a hint about the prior year in the heading to chapter 14:

Some purchasers of the treatise in manuscript, disposed of the last winter, having desired a further explanation concerning the playing of sequences, they are explained in the following manner.
Hoyle presumably sold the manuscript, no copies of which survive, to his private whist pupils.

Where was Hoyle born and what were his circumstances? His writing reflects education—where did he acquire it? Did he have a trade or profession? Where did he learn to play the games? Was he a professional gamester? Where did he play? What was his income? In short, what did Hoyle do for the first 70 years of his life????

In the decade and a half before 1742, whist became fashionable in high society. Was Hoyle involved in the elevation of whist, perhaps a member of Lord Folkestone's circle? 

Lord Folkestone should ever be held in high esteem by whist-players for his services in taking up and developing the game, which at that time was just emerging from obscurity and from its very humbles surroundings. He formed one of a select circle at the Crown Coffee-House, in Bedford Row, London, and here is where scientific whist had its first beginning in 1728; for these gentlemen, under his leadership devised a code of regulations and otherwise greatly improved the game...Thus the game was made ready for Hoyle to take it up and bring it into great popularity. (Butler, p180)
(2) Who were your pupils? How did your lessons differ form the text of your writings?

There are some letters to magazines purporting to be from students of Hoyle, as I discuss in the essay "Contemporary References to Hoyle," but their apparent satire casts doubt on their accuracy.

Did Hoyle play whist with his students, critiquing their play? Did he present prepared hands to them, much like the cases in his treatise? How free was Hoyle to criticize his society pupils? Did he socialize with his students? 

How strong a player was Hoyle at the games he discussed? Recall the disparaging quote from Matthews in 1804 at the end of an essay on Hoyle collectibles? 

How would Hoyle have adapted to the changes in whist and its evolution to bridge? To the changes in backgammon with the invention of the doubling cube in the 1930s?

(3)  What were your contractual relationships with your publishers?

We know that Hoyle self-published the first edition of Whist, recording it at Stationer's Hall on November 11,1 742. He sold the copyright to Francis Cogan for 100 Guineas in February 1743, a great transaction for Hoyle, and a disastrous one for Cogan. To combat the piracies, we know that Hoyle continued to make addition to Whist and that he signed every genuine copy. We don't know what payment he received for the additions, but March 1743, Cogan agreed to pay Hoyle two pence per copy for the autograph. The story is recounted in the article "Pirates, Autographs, and a Bankruptcy."

Hoyle wrote later treatises for Cogan: Backgammon, An Artificial Memory for Whist, Piquet, and Quadrille. Backgammon was entered at Stationer's Hall in on June 28, 1743 and Piquet on January 11, 1744 in the names of both Hoyle and Cogan. Neither Memory nor Quadrille were recorded there. What were the terms by which those books were published?

Hoyle wrote and John Jolliffe published two more treatises—on brag (1751) and the doctrine of chances (1754). They were sold by subscription. What were the terms of the contract for those books? 

Thomas Osborne, Jr. acquired the rights to Hoyle in 1745, just before the first of Cogan's two bankruptcies. We know that Osborne made a one-time payment to Hoyle of 25 pounds in lieu of continuing paying two pence per signature. Osborne later acquired the rights to the doctrine of chances (though not brag) and published Hoyle's work on Chess in 1761. What were the terms for those books?

(4) What was your reaction to the satiric play The Humours of Whist?

I discuss the play in two essays, one discussing the play as a satire of Hoyle and another as a satire of piracy. Did he find the play amusing? Did it increase his notoriety and the sales of his books? 

(5) Why oh why oh why did you not distinguish between strategy and partnership agreement in the game of whist?

Granted, this is an unfair criticism to lay at Hoyle's feet. I explain the distinction between these two aspects of playing at whist in part 2 of my essay on "The Nature of Gaming Literature." In Hoyle's time and for a hundred years after, there was no sense that different partnerships might choose to have different agreements. For example, do you lead the K or Q from a suit headed by both? The trick-taking power is equivalent—the question is one of information. Does the lead of the K promise the Q or deny it? Modern bridge partnership are split on this and hundreds of similar questions. Each partnerships must choose among approaches. 

The failure to distinguish between strategy, partnership agreement, and the rules of the game persists in bridge books to this day. Indeed, it is worse, as the two concepts extend to bidding—something that does not take place in bridge. I don't think I'm exaggerating when I claim that hundreds of millions of bridge players have been worse off for not appreciating the distinction. Hoyle could have made things so much better. 

An opportunity missed....

Do you have any questions for Mr. Hoyle?


William Mill Butler, The Whist Reference Book. Philadelphia: John C. Yorston. 1899.

Monday, August 6, 2012

An unrecorded Dublin Hoyle?

I picked up another Hoyle at auction last month and it is quite unusual. It is a 1776 Irish reprint of Hoyle's treatise on whist together with his Artificial Memory. I disparaged the latter work in my essay "An Artificial Memory for Whist." The once elegant, now shabby binding, pictured at right is certainly not a publisher's binding—the Irish reprinters used cheap, undecorated calf or sheep. The curiousity is the text. If published as it now survives, it is a previously unrecorded issue of Hoyle.

First some background both about the individual treatises in Dublin and about The Polite Gamester, the Dublin collection of all of Hoyle's works.

In my essay on "Individual Treatises in Ireland," I commented on the difficulty of identifying all of the separately-published treatises. As compared with London publications, they survive in much smaller number and newspaper advertisements for them are less numerous and more difficult to locate. I proposed a list of editions for Whist and the Artificial Memory:
  • Whist.D.1: "fourth" edition, George Ewing, 1743
  • Whist.D.2: "fifth" edition, George Ewing, 1743
  • Whist.D.3: "fifth" edition, G. and A. Ewing, 1745
  • Whist.D.4: "thirteenth" edition, G. and A. Ewing, 1752 (no copies survive except as part of The Polite Gamester. Likely sold only with Memory.D.2)
  • Whist.D.5: "fifth" edition, Peter Wilson, 1752 (likely sold only with Memory.D.3)
  • Whist.D.6: "fourteenth" edition, G. and A. Ewing, 1762 (likely sold only with Memory.D.4)
  • Memory.D.1: G. & A. Ewing, 1744
  • Memory.D.2: G. & A. Ewing, 1751 (likely sold only with Whist.D.4)
  • Memory.D.3: Peter Wilson, 1752 (likely sold only with Whist.D.5)
  • Memory.D.4: G. & A. Ewing, 1762 (likely sold only with Whist.D.6)
The treatises are most often found issued as part of a collected volume which I discuss in the essay "The Polite Gamester". It appeared to me that Gamesters through 1761 were collections, that is the individual treatises were sold separately, but could also be bought as a single volume. I felt that beginning with the 1772 edition printed for Thomas Ewing, individual treatises were no longer sold, but only the collected edition. Now I'm not so sure.

"title page"
for my new book

My new book has the title page for a 1776 edition of Memory printed for James Hoey, but contains both the text of Whist and Memory, recalling a bibliographical problem I discuss in the essay "What's in a Name?"  The new book is an excerpt of James Hoey's 1776 edition  of The Polite Gamester. It is important to note that it is the same setting of type, but contains a number of surprises that will become more understandable if we first look at the larger work.

As I wrote in the essay "Every Cancel Tells a Story, Don't It:? (part 1)" Hoey's Polite Gamester is a reissue of  an earlier edition printed for T. Ewing, 1772. When Ewing died in 1775 or 1776, Hoey must have acquired his stock of unsold copies of Polite Gamester, canceled both the overall title and the section titles, and published the book as his own.

The 1776 Polite Gamester collates 12o: π1 A4 B-C12 D12(±D6,D11) E12(±E9) F12 G12(±G3) H12(±H5,12) I-K12 (K12+1) = 114 leaves. The pagination is [10] [1] 2-58 [59-61] 62-68 [69-71] 72-88 [89-91] 92-123 [124-7] 128-151 [152-5] 156-66 [167-71] 172-217 [218] = 288 pages. The oddities were become clearer if we review the contents:

π1 [2] cancel collected title page for The Polite Gamester
(verso blank)
A1-A4 [8] collected table of contents (A4v blank)
B1-D5 [1] 2-58 text of Whist
D6 59-60 cancel section title for Memory (verso blank)
D7-D10 [61] 62-68 text of Memory
D11 [69-70] cancel section title for Quadrille (verso blank)
D12-E8 [71] 72-88 text of Quadrille
E9 [89-90] cancel section title for Backgammon (verso blank)
E10-G2 [91] 92-123 [124] text of Backgammon
G3 [125-6] cancel section title for Piquet (verso blank)
G4-H4 [127] 128-151 [152] text of Piquet
H5 [153-4] cancel section title for Chess (verso blank)
H6-H11 [155] 156-166 text of Chess
H12 [167-8] cancel section title for Doctrine of Chances
I1-K12+1 [169-71] 172-217 [218] text of Doctrine of Chances

What stands out is that Whist does not have a section title at all.

With that behind us, it is time to look at my new book. The book collates 12o: π1 A1 B-C12 D12(-D6,11,12) = 35 leaves. The pagination is [4] [1] 2-58 [61] 62-68 = 70 pages. Note the three deleted leaves in gathering D and the break in pagination at pages 59-60. The contents will explain what happened:

Signature Reference Page Reference Contents
π1 [2] cancel section title for Memory (verso blank)
A1 [2] (partial) table of contents for Whist
B1-D5 [1] 2-58 text of Whist
D7-D10 [61] 62-68 text of Memory

In the absence of a section title for Whist, the section title for Memory (originally unnumbered page 59) was placed at the front of the volume. As you can see below the table of contents have been truncated to refer only to the treatise on whist.

A1v: truncated table of contents
B1r: text of Whist begins
Compare the table of contents with its appearance in the 1776 Polite Gamester, below:

A1v: Whist table of contents
A2r: Whist contents continue
Note that the table of contents for whist continue for two lines onto A2r and then continue on to quadrille and backgammon. My volume has a slightly incomplete table of contents for Whist. Curiously there is no table of contents for Memory at all—see the top of A2r which reads "CHAP XIX. Contained in the Artificial Memory."

So the structure of my book is clear. π1 is the Hoey's cancel section title for Memory. [Aside: I was tempted to write π1 (=D6), but that is not correct—D6 as printed was Ewing's section title for Memory.] The table of contents, originally A4 was reduced to the single leaf A1 to omit references to the other treatises. As for the deleted leave, D6 and D11 were printed as Ewing section titles and D12 was the beginning of the quadrille text.

Now that the structure of my new book is clear, the question is whether it was issued by Hoey in this form. If so, we have an unrecorded work, Whist and Memory issued as a volume apart from The Polite Gamester. Perhaps Hoey broke up some copies of The Polite Gamester that he acquired from Ewing and sold the treatises individually. Perhaps Ewing issued not only The Polite Gamester in 1772, but Whist and Memory separately as well. In that case Hoey could have acquired some unsold stock and cancelled the title.

Another explanation is that a purchaser of the 1776 Polite Gamester was interested only in the game of whist and when he had the book bound, he instructed his binder to discard (or bind separately) all of the other treatisew. The bibliographer's mantra says to examine as many copies as possible. Here, mine is the only copy, and unless I'm able to find some contemporary newspaper advertisements, we'll never know for sure how it was issued.

In London, Memory was merged into Whist in the "sixth" edition of 1746 as I discuss in the essay "The First Osborne Hoyles." In Dublin, the two were sold separately until the 1750s when, judging from the copies I have seen, they were always sold together. Until I acquired this book, I thought that the last time these two were sold apart from The Polite Gamester was in 1762, a combined volume of Whist.D.6 and Memory.D.4. My new book suggests the possibility that the two were sold together again in 1772 and 1776.

Perhaps this essay will help you appreciate the difficulties of doing a bibliography of Hoyle!