Monday, April 30, 2012

More on the Hoyle Copyright

This essay will present some additional short topics about the Hoyle copyright:
  1. The mystery solved?
  2. An interesting note in another trade sale catalogue
  3. The "fifteenth" and "sixteenth" editions of Hoyle's Games
  4. The copyright after Hoyle entered the public domain
1. In the last essay, I presented the mystery of the Hoyle copyright. Pictured below is a snippet from a booksellers' trade sale catalogue dated January 13, 1747 which seemed to show that bookseller Charles Corbett purchased the rights to Hoyle's Games for 50 guineas. The transaction is mysterious because, as I discuss here, bookseller Thomas Osborne Jr. had sole ownership of the copyright from 1745 until 1755.

January 13, 1747 trade sale

I presented the mystery to the august members of two book history lists, EXLIBRIS-L and SHARP-L. Three people made the identical suggestion, noting a stray ink mark in the lot prior to Hoyle, between the words "Two-" and "ninths." Could the 1747 sale have been for a two-ninths share of Aesop's Fables in Greek and Latin? That question sent me to ESTC looking for Aesop.

The last edition published before the auction is Aesop's Fables. Latin and Greek. London: T. Osborne, E. Wicksteed, C. Bathurst, & J. Pote (1739). The T. Osborne here is Osborne Sr., the father of the Hoyle publisher Osborne Jr. The imprint is consistent with the fact that the 1747 sale was for property belong to Osborne Sr. and Wicksteed. If the next edition showed Corbett on the imprint the mystery would be solved!

Alas, the 1749 edition is Eton, printed only for J. Pote. Indeed Osborne and Wicksteed are off the imprint as expected—it was their share sold at auction. Also missing is Bathurst; Corbett is not to be found. It could be that Corbett resold the copyright between 1747 and 1749. I intend to look at contemporary newspaper advertisements to see if I can learn more about how the book was marketed. For now, it is possible, if not likely, that the annotation was for the Aesop translations and not for Hoyle.

2. In the same essay on the "mystery," I referred to a trade sale of October 14, 1746 in which Wicksteed sold stock formerly belonging to Thomas Osborne Sr. I did not include the interesting snippet pictured below. Lots 25-9 are individual Hoyle treatises and the Hoyle collection (books, not copyrights). As I note  in that essay, these items, unsold here, were later sold at the subsequent 1747 Wicksteed/Osborne Sr. sale. What is interesting is the note afterward that the books are returnable should a new edition with additional material be published.

October 14, 1746 trade sale
It's not completely certain that note in item 30 refers to the Hoyles, but it seems likely, particularly as Osborne Jr. continued to have Hoyle add to the text of Whist. It also confirms that Osborne Jr. was somehow involved in the sale of his father's stock at the 1746 and 1747 trade sales as only he could offer to "upgrade" the books in question.

3. My essay on the Hoyle copyright focused on Hoyle's lifetime, through the "fourteenth" edition of Hoyle's Games. When that book was published in late 1767, the copyright was worth £288 and owned in the following shares: Woodfall 5/12, Baldwin 4/12, Crowder 2/12, Wilkie 1/12.  Hoyle died in 1769 and two more editions were published with his autograph appearing as a woodblock.

It is quite difficult to trace the ownership of the copyright beyond the "fourteenth" edition. The largest owner, Henry Woodfall, died in 1768. The only additional transaction I have found is that on February 5, 1771, Lowndes bought a 1/12 share from Baldwin for £22 15s, likely equalizing each of their shares as 3/12. That sum would make the entire copyright worth £273, a bit less than the value a few years earlier when Hoyle was still alive and adding to the work. By the time of the "fifteenth" edition (advertised Nov 12, 1771) there were ten booksellers on the imprint:
Imprint for the "fifteenth" edition
of Hoyle's Games
The "sixteenth" edition, advertised June 9, 1775, had even more booksellers sharing the wealth:

Imprint for the "sixteenth" edition
of Hoyle's Games
4. After the end of perpetual copyright, discussed here, there were still transactions in the Hoyle copyright. Largely the same group of booksellers who published the "sixteenth" edition were responsible for Hoyle's Games Improved, edited by Charles Jones, first published in 1775:
Imprint for Hoyle's Games Improved, 1775

The Jones edition of Hoyle is hugely important in the market, and I have discussed it many times. I have found documentation of nowhere near enough transactions to trace the ownership shares, as the Jones edition stayed in print until 1826. I do know that Lowndes bought a 1/72 share of Hoyle's Games Improved in 1778 for £1 15, making the copyright worth £126. With Hoyle's text in the public domain, one sees a further diminution in value of the copyright.

Fortunately, beginning with the edition of 1800, we can identify the ownership shares from the Longman archive, as I discuss here.

The only other Hoyle I can find in the booksellers' trade sales is the New Pocket Hoyle, first published in 1802 by Wynne and Scholey, discussed here. In June 1803, James Wallis bought a one-third share of the New Pocket Hoyle 2nd and all subsequent editions for eight guineas. That transaction is a bit odd, as Wallis was on the imprint of the first edition, but perhaps his initial ownership was for that edition only.


Putting these four topics together with the previous essays on the Hoyle copyright, we see that there through the early 19th century were three distinct copyrights that were recognized by the London trade: the original copyright in Hoyle's Games, that for Jones's Hoyles Games Improved. The copyright was most valuable during Hoyle's lifetime when the possibility of additional text was still possible and when the common law perpetual copyright governed the trade.

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