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?

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