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.

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