Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013: One Final Collectible

Textile before conservation

Wow! This is my 100th post! And what a great way to end 2013, with a most extraordinary acquisition. Pictured at right is a textile I purchased at auction this year. For a much higher resolution image, please see my website.

What is it? Well, that's really hard to say. It is a cotton textile approximately 23" by 22". The auction catalogue listed it as a "bandana" but that seems improbable. My conservator called it simply a domestic textile. Given its layout, a central medallion with explanatory text facing four directions, perhaps it was intended to be used as a covering for a whist table. Some of the stains seem as though someone placed a damp cup or glass on it.

Detail of central medallion
How was it made? It is a copper engraving on cotton. The technique was developed in Ireland in the 1750s and quickly brought to England. For a comparable example from France, see here. This gives us an early bound on the date of its manufacture.

"Garter" ace of spades
Can it be dated further? The image of the ace of spades at right shows "G III Rex" and a garter design, typical of English cards from the late 18th until the very early 19th century. I suspect that textile dates from the 1790s.

Textile ready for framing
How was it conserved?
My goals were to preserve the textile while being able to display it in a frame. The conservator cleaned of all surface dirt. We decided that any effort to remove stains would risk discoloration and loss of the lovely toning. The conservator mounted a sympathetic support cloth to a stretcher and gently sewed the textile onto the support. In doing so, she was able to eliminate the creases shown in the first image. The repair in the lower right was present when I bought the item. I have not yet framed and hung it, but when framed, the glass will offer UV protection and I'll hang it away from any natural light.

What is the connection to Hoyle? I haven't yet done a detailed transcription of the text to compare it with Hoyle's writing. Nonetheless, it is clear that the Laws of Whist on the border and the odds are taken from Hoyle.

Laws of whist after Hoyle
Bridge odds after Hoyle

I have more analysis to do on this lovely and rare survival. I'll post more as I learn more.

In the mean time, I may take a short break from blogging--I am working on some longer articles for print publication, and I find it difficult to work on both.

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

2013: The Year in Collecting

As the year draws to a close, I thought I'd take a quick break from bibliography and book history to look at my year in collecting. I'm at the point where it is difficult to find good Hoyle material that I do not already have. I recently wrote to a friend that I'm happy if I can find a dozen new items a year. This year the number was eight, and it was so high only because I have started to collect more seriously into the early 19th century for reasons I discuss in the essay "Continuities and Disruptions."

The one new eighteenth century item was a copy of the Polite Gamester printed in Dublin for Peter Wilson in 1752. I discuss the book in "A Copyright Fight in Dublin," noting that there are two issues of the book, one with 38 pages on whist and the other with 46. It is clear that the extra four leaves were added later to compete against the Ewing Polite Gamester of the same year. I now own a copy of the earlier issue, one of only two recorded.

I have written much about Hoyle's Games Improved edited by Charles Jones and records of its publication in the Longman Archive. One of the many interesting features of these books is that occasionally excerpts of them would be issued separately. For example in 1800 a section on game cocks was issued as a separate title. I'll discuss another example on horse racing below.

A number of times the chapters on card games were issued as Hoyle's Games Improved and Selected as a Companion to the Card Table. I discussed an 1803 edition in "Late Hoyles, Early Slip Case." I managed to find an 1813 edition in fine condition, still in its slip case, on eBay, of all places. Interestingly, the 1813 Companion is excerpted from the 1814 Jones Hoyle, both of which were published on December 24, 1813.

I found some lovely early 19th century translations this year. I previously wrote about the first Dutch edition of 1790. I now have the second edition of 1810, pictured below. What is striking is the folding table setting out the scoring rules for the game of quadrille in letterpress.

1810 Amsterdam
1810 Amsterdam
Letterpress folding plate

I noted earlier that Hoyle was first translated into Portuguese, and showed the second and third editions of 1768 and 1784. Now that I am moving into the 18th century, I found copies of the fourth and fifth editions, dated 1818 and 1827 respectively. The text appears unchanged.

1827 Lisbon
1818 Lisbon

1824 Bath

The book pictured at left is unusual and interesting. It is a small book with a text block of 10.7 x 6.7 cms. My copy has two identical engraved title pages (the second certainly an accident) with the title Hoyle's Games. The Bath Edition. The engraving includes the Ace of Spades from a deck by Hunt and Sons as illustrated here.

The letterpress title page reads Hoyle's Card Games, Complete; with an Appendix Containing his Guide to the Turf. The work is dated 1824 and is printed for E. Barret whom I believe was in Bath, and sold by three London booksellers, Bumpus, Crawford, Clark. Interestingly Bumpus was to be on the imprint for the main line of Hoyles from 1826 to 1868. Perhaps he was getting his feet wet selling this Bath edition. 

It is the Guide to the Turf which I find most interesting. The phrasing of the title is interesting, suggesting that the Guide is Hoyle's, but of course he never wrote about horse racing. Instead, some racing material was added to the 1814 edition of Hoyle's Games Improved, edited by Charles Jones. Like the Companion to the Card Table I discuss above, the racing material was separately issued as A Guide to the Turf. And it is that material that appears in the Bath edition.

The book seems rare, with other copies only at the Bodleian and UNLV. Even rarer is the 1814 Guide to the Turf. The Longman Archives show that 2000 copies were printed, but only one copy survives, at the library of a veterinary school in Hanover Germany. The 1824 Bath edition was reprinted in Glasgow in 1827 in an identical small format, though apparently without the engraved title. The only surviving copy is part of the Carriere Collection of Poker and Hoyle at Lousiana State University.

In the essay "Bob Short's Short Rules for Short Memories", I discuss the difficulty of identify all the many chapbook editions of Hoyle edited by Robert Withy under the pseudonym Bob Short. That essay noted a New York edition of 1828. I managed to find a copy of it this year--it seems to be the first United States printing of Bob Short.

1828 New York (cover)
1828 New York (title)

 I've left out the most interesting 2013 acquisition and will save it for the next essay.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Hoyle's Games Improved (1814): Who was the bookseller Gale?

(updated June 22, 2016 with details about Hoyle's Guide to the Turf)

My last essay, "The Hoyle Copyright in Hoyle's Lifetime (revisited)" resolved a mystery that had long bothered me about the ownership of the Hoyle copyright in the 1760s. This essay untangles a similar mystery a half-century later.

The longish imprint on Hoyle's Games Improved, revised and corrected by Charles Jones Esq. (1814) lists twelve booksellers:
  • W. Lowndes
  • Wilkie and Robinson
  • J. Walker
  • Scatcherd and Letterman
  • Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme and Brown
  • Lackington, Allen and Co.
  • W. Stewart
  • B. and R. Crosby
  • J. Richarson
  • J. Mawman
  • J. Asperne
  • R. Baldwin
The handwritten (and often obscure) business records of the Longman firm list shares of copyright ownership for the book. See for example this essay discussing the 1800 edition. The archives note a thirteenth bookseller, with a 1/24 share, who's name appears to be "Gale." Gale never appeared on the imprint of any edition of Hoyle's Games Improved, but it's hard to dispute contemporary business records which record ownership of the booksellers' most valuable assets. Further, shares of ownership determine shares of costs and division of printed books. Who was Gale? Where did his share come from? What happened to it?

 Update (June 22, 2016): Sometimes when Hoyle's Games Improved was published, portions of the book were simultaneously issued with a different title page although generally the same setting of type. The 1814 edition is an example. The first 106 pages were issued as Hoyle's Games of Whist and Quadrille, the first 192 pages were issued as Companion to the Card Table, and pages 460-502 were issued as Hoyle's Guide to the Turf (although Hoyle had nothing to do with the text). The latter work is quite rare, with copies surviving only at the Bodleian and a veterinary library in Hannover, Germany. The German copy has been digitized online and the imprint includes Gale, Curtis, and Fenner. So Gale DOES show up on an imprint.
While I can't establish how Gale came to acquire a share of the copyright, nor why he wasn't on the imprint, I have found records showing that not only did he own a share of Hoyle in 1814, he bought a second piece in 1817. Records also show what happened to those shares.

In the 19th century most of the booksellers trade sales were run by the auction house Hodgson and Co. The catalogues for these trade sales, often annotated with purchaser and purchase price, survive. [See One Hundred Years of Book Auctions. 1807-1907. Being a brief record of the firm of Hodgson and Co. London. 1908. pp19-20, available for download]. Copies of the Hodgson catalogues are available at the British Library, as described here (search for "Hodgson trade sales").

A Hodgson catalogue for May 2, 1817 shows Walker, a name from the 1814 imprint, selling a 1/72 share to a name that seems to read Gale & Co.

Researching Gale in the British Book Trade Index, and WorldCat, I found that Gale did business as Gale, Curtis, and Fenner from 1812-15, and as Gale and Fenner from 1815-1817. Fenner succeeded to the business in 1817, and was not terribly successful, becoming bankrupt in March 1819.

Hodgson auctioned Fenner's copyrights on August 10, 1819. There were two lots of the copyright of "Hoyle's Games by Jones", one for a 1/24 share (the share recorded in the Longman Archives) and the other for a 1/72 share (the May 1817 purchase). There is no annotation showing a purchaser or purchase price as there often is in the auction catalogues. It is likely that Whittaker acquired the shares either at the auction or later--the Longman records show that he owned none of the copyright in 1814 and a large 11/36 share by 1820.

So, Gale DID own a share in 1814 despite the absence of his name on the imprint. He acquired more in 1817. His successor Fenner sold the shares, apparently in connection with his bankruptcy.

Another minor mystery if not solved, then certainly clarified.

Friday, November 8, 2013

The Hoyle Copyright in Hoyle's Lifetime (revisited)

I thought I had said everything I had to say about the early ownership of the Hoyle copyright in an earlier essay "The Hoyle Copyright in Hoyle's Lifetime". There was always a little something that nagged me about the information there, and I have finally resolved the nit to my satisfaction.

The chart above, modified from the essay "A Database for the Hoyle Copyright," shows which booksellers owned shares of the copyright from 1745 to 1767. The data is based on imprints (which you can find pictured in the earlier essay) and transactions from the booksellers trade sales. What seemed odd to me was that Stanley Crowder is on the imprint for the "12th" and "14th" editions, but not the "13th". It is possible that he sold his interest in the Hoyle copyright and reinvested later, but that seems strained.

Let us look more closely at the three relevant trade sales: 
  • James Hodges lived until 1795, but left the book trade in roughly 1757. At least his name last shows up in imprints of books printed that year according to ESTC. His stock was sold in a trade sale on July 14, 1757. The surviving catalogue is titled in letterpress A Catalogue of Books in Quires, Being the stock of Mr James Hodges... I hadn't focused on the fact that the sale was for books only, and not copyrights. His inventory of 350 copies of Hoyle's Games went unsold.
  • At another trade sale on April 21, 1763, bookseller Henry Woodfall bought two lots of 1/6 shares in Hoyle, the first for £30, the second for £32 10s., making the full copyright worth £187 10s. The catalogue does not indicate the seller, either in letterpress or, as is often the case, in handwritten annotations. I had assumed that Crowder must have been the seller, as he appeared on the Hoyle imprint in 1760, but not in late 1763. 
  • Thomas Osborne left the trade in 1767, selling his stock and copyrights at a sale on July 28.  His 1/3 share of the Hoyle copyright was broken into four 1/12 shares. John Wilkie bought one for £21, Henry Woodfall one for £22, and Stanley Crowder two for £22 each. In all, Osborne's one-third share sold for £87, making the value of the copyright £261. 
I have now spent more time with the 1763 sale and have concluded that the copyrights offered there belonged to James Hodges. Most of the copyrights listed at the sale were never printed for Crowder and most of the books printed for Crowder in, say, 1762 do not appear at the sale. Most importantly, Crowder was a major purchaser at the sale. The sale must have been of copyrights belonging to Hodges, not Crowder, so that Hodges continued to own the Hoyle copyright until 1763. It also means that even though his name appeared on the imprint of the 1760 "12th" edition of Hoyle, Crowder did not own a share of the copyright.

What was the relationship between Hodges and Crowder that allowed Crowder to republish Hodges' books? It turns out that Crowder was apprenticed to Hodges, and freed in 1755. From 1757 Crowder carried on the business from Hodges' premises at the sign of the Looking Glass near London Bridge. This suggests some economic relationship between the two under which Crowder carried on the business even as Hodges continued to own the copyrights.

With Hoyle, we see a pattern of imprints supporting the view that for a short time Crowder published books owned by Hodges:
  • printed for three booksellers including Hodges in 1756 (ESTC T87520)
  • printed for three booksellers including Crowder, but not Hodges in 1760 (ESTC T88035)
  • Hodges share sold to Woodfall in April 1763
  • Woodfall appears on imprint instead of Crowder in December 1763 (ESTC N4079)
It takes some patience to find other examples. First, you must be able to identify the book in ESTC from the shorthand title given in the trade sale catalogue. Second, you have to find a copyright that actually sold at the trade sale. Third, the book must have been printed at least three times: once for Hodges, once for Crowder between 1757 and 1763, and a third time after the copyright sale. Finally, it is easiest to look at books where Hodges owned a large share of the copyright. Where the copyright traded in shares of 1/36 or 1/48, there can be so many names on the imprint that it is hard to track what's going on.

Here are two more examples. First Ken's A Manual of Prayers:
  • printed for three booksellers including Hodges in 1755 (ESTC T133227)
  • printed for four booksellers including Crowder, but not Hodges in 1761 (ESTC T133221)
  • Hodges copyright sold in 1763
  • printed for six booksellers not including Crowder in 1770 (ESTC T133220)
Second, Martin, Philosophia Britannica:
  • printed for three booksellers including Hodges in 1752 (ESTC N39108)
  • printed for six booksellers including Crowder, but not Hodges in 1759 (ESTC N12262)
  • Hodges share sold in 1763
  • Crowder off imprint in 1771 (ESTC T25345)
I will look for more information about the dealings between Hodges and Crowder. In the mean time, I have convinced myself that despite his appearnce on the imprint of the the "12th" edition, Crowder did not own a share of the Hoyle copyright until the "14th". That leaves my chart simpler and clearer as follows:

Interestingly, the imprint of the "14th" edition of Hoyle's Games published in December 1767, did not reflect the results of the Osborne sale of April. As I noted here, the imprint states the book is printed for Osborne, Woodfall, and Baldwin, but contemporary newspaper advertisements are correct::
Printed by assignment from T. Osborne, for H. Woodfall, R. Baldwin, and S. Crowder, in Patern-noster-row, and J Wilkie, No 71, in St. Paul's Church Yard.
These two examples of imprecise imprints show provide a caveat to my discussion in "Researching Copyright."

I am delighted to have eliminated a little nag that has bothered me for some time.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

More from the database: another bad seller

In may last essay, I described the database I had built with many sources of information about the Hoyle copyright. In the past couple of weeks, I have been loading more newspaper advertisements into the database. Rerunning the reports I shared earlier, I have a new example of a Hoyle that remained in print for a long time. Well, sort of a Hoyle...

The book is Dew's Treatise on Billiards, published in 1779. There is not a word of Hoyle's in it, but it must be considered in a discussion of the publishing history of Hoyle. As I discuss in "The most important Hoyle after Hoyle", the 1779 Charles Jones book Hoyle's Game Improved, incorporated a number of other gaming works--William Payne's works on whist and draughts (checkers) and Dew's on billiards.

In "A Research Trip to Cleveland" there is a section on challenges for the Hoyle bibliographer. There I note books written by Hoyle that appear without attribution and books attributed to Hoyle that he or his publishers had nothing to do with. Dew's book represents a third case: it was printed at the same time as Hoyle's Games Improved from the same setting of type used for its appearance there. Perhaps you can imagine the printer saving the pages of type after printing HGI, changing the page numbers and adding a new title page for Dew. Because it is the same setting of type, the separate treatise is bibliographically part of the same edition of HGI, but is a separate issue. It is part of the same business venture and must be treated in a Hoyle bibliography.

As to their reception, HGI sold reasonably well, with the next edition appearing in 1786, seven years later. Dew's treatise was nowhere near as popular. It was never reprinted excepted as part of the Jones Hoyle and advertisements can be found as late as 1794, staying in print for 15 years.

Update December 21, 2014:

Make that 17 years! I just noticed a footnote in the 1796 edition of the Hoyle's Games Improved (p232) "[The Dew] treatise may be had separate, price 1s."

Monday, October 21, 2013

A database for the Hoyle copyright

I'll return shortly with the sequel to "What was the Hoyle Copyright Worth? (part one)." Perhaps this essay will make clear the reasons for the delay.

In "Researching Copyright" I discussed the many tools I used for learning who owned shares in the Hoyle copyright. They were the Stationers book of registry, imprints, publisher's records, bookseller trade sales, receipts, and newspaper advertisements. I have many examples of all of these for Hoyle, including more than 500 newspaper advertisements for 18th and 19th century Hoyles. I tend to have PDF files of the various sources reasonably well organized on my computer. To compile and analyze the data, I rely on dozens of Word documents and Excel files. As the data have become more numerous, it has been harder and harder to keep the Word and Excel files in sync.

I have been contemplating putting everything in a database for a long time and finally started a couple of days ago. I built a database to manage the copyright data: books, booksellers, imprints, advertisements, and more. For the technically minded, I built the database in sqlite3 and use python where extra processing is required. It took about 25 hours to get something useful and I'm pretty pleased with what I can do. Here are a few examples of questions I can now easily answer:

From the 1740s until the 1860s, many booksellers bought and sold pieces of the Hoyle copyright. Which booksellers held pieces for the longest time?

bookseller  from_date   to_date     years     
----------  ----------  ----------  ----------
Baldwin     1755-12-24  1835-05-27  80        
Longman     1800-05-15  1868-07-09  68        
Lowndes     1771-11-12  1821-01-02  50        
Wilkie      1767-12-12  1814-01-11  47        
Newbery     1771-11-12  1800-05-15  29        
Crowder     1757-12-22  1785-12-08  28        
Mawman      1800-05-15  1826-03-26  26        
Bladon      1771-11-12  1796-03-05  25        
Payne       1779-11-13  1804-05-12  25        
Scatcherd   1796-03-05  1821-01-02  25        
Stewart     1796-03-05  1820-02-18  24        
Osborne     1745-10-26  1767-12-12  22        
Law         1775-06-09  1796-03-05  21

The Baldwin firm comes out on top, ahead of Longman, Lowndes, and Wilkie.

Of course these were not individuals, but families or firms who held the copyright for the better part of a century. One can see the evolving names in imprints and advertisements:

from_date   to_date     first_name    last_name     suffix                             
----------  ----------  ------------  ------------  -----------------------------------
1757-01-01  1767-12-12  Richard       Baldwin                                          
1771-11-12  1813-12-24  R.            Baldwin                                          
1820-02-01  1826-03-26                Baldwin       Cradock, and Joy                   
1835-05-27  1835-05-27                Baldwin       and Cradock                        
1800-05-15  1803-08-03                Longman       and Rees                           
1808-05-24  1808-05-24                Longman       Hurst, Rees and Orme               
1813-12-24  1820-02-01                Longman       Hurst, Rees, Orme and Brown        
1826-03-26  1826-03-26                Longman       Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Co.         
1835-05-27  1835-05-27                Longman       Rees, and Co.                      
1842-03-02  1842-03-02                Longman       Brown, & Co.                       
1847-03-03  1868-07-09                Longman       and Co.                            
1771-11-12  1779-11-13  T.            Lowndes                                          
1785-12-08  1820-02-01  W.            Lowndes                                          
1771-11-12  1779-11-13  J.            Wilkie                                           
1785-12-08  1796-03-05  G. and T.     Wilkie                                           
1800-05-15  1803-08-03  G.            Wilkie                                           
1808-05-24  1813-12-24                Wilkie        and Robinson                                

It would be possible to research the history of these booksellers in the British Book Trade Index to see if what I'm seeing for the Hoyles accurately reflects deaths, and successions.

I've written elsewhere about the 1774 case of Donaldson v. Beckett, eliminating the common law perpetual copyright in England. Who owned a share of the Hoyle copyright before that decision?

Booksellers with a share in the Hoyle copyright

For a number of reasons this report was hard to produce--it took some help with python. Note the disposition of Thomas Osborne's share with his death in 1767 and the proliferation of owners shortly thereafter. The report is even more interesting when it is extended in time, but that would be hard to display here.

Another question: Which book stayed in print the longest? I looked for books which were advertised the longest after publication date. The results are preliminary, as I've entered only a subset of advertisements in the database, but even the early results are interesting:

book                  publish_dt  advert_dt   years     
--------------------  ----------  ----------  ----------
1745 Laws of Whist    1745-10-26  1751-11-12  6         
1750 Osborne 10       1749-10-21  1755-12-24  6         
1761 Chess            1760-12-30  1766-01-08  6         
1761 Chances          1760-12-24  1764-01-18  4         
1800 Jones Direction  1800-05-15  1804-05-12  4         
Remarkably, most of the Hoyles were in print three years or less. The exceptions are worth more research and more discussion.

I identified The Laws of Whist and Directions for Breeding Game Cocks as poor sellers from another source, catalogues from bookseller trade sales. In the essay "The (missing) Laws of Whist Designed for Framing" I noted that the Osborne sale of 1767 offered 325 copies of the Laws more than twenty years after it was published. See the discussion below for further evidence of the slow sales of the Laws. Similarly in "Hoyle's Games Improved, Charles Jones (1800)" I noted there that Directions was a poor seller, with bookseller Wilkie's remaining stock going unsold at an 1814 bookseller's trade sale. It is comforting to note that trade sale catalogues and newspaper advertisements tell the same story.
[Aside: In my research I have focused on the trade sales primarily for sales of the Hoyle copyright, and have not searched exhaustively for the much more frequent sales of books unless copyrights were offered at the same sale. I'm only beginning to appreciate how much could be learned from this unimaginably time-consuming effort. That work would disclose more examples of poor sellers and could also help estimate print runs. For an example, consider the "eleventh" edition of Hoyle's Games. Six months after it was published, 350 copies were offered at the Hodges trade sale. As Hodges had owned a one-third share, the print run was likely 1250 or 1500 copies. See The Hoyle Copyright in Hoyle's lifetime."]
The database helps another way: in the essay on Hoyle's Games Improved, I speculated that the price for Directions might have been a shilling or two. In fact, advertisements shows it sold for sixpence, something that if I noticed before, I had not recorded on the right spreadsheet.

The appearance of the "10th" edition of Hoyle's Games on the list does not tell the full story. In fact the "10th edition" is a reissue of the "8th" edition dating back to 1748. See "Reissues of Mr. Hoyle's Treatises (1748-1755)." I have not yet done the work to connect multiple issues when they are the same edition (and indeed, it can be difficult to tell which issue is being advertised). I've often wondered whether Osborne overestimated the demand when he had the "8th" edition printed, or whether there was standing type and multiple impressions were made.

Interestingly, Chess and Doctrine of Chances do not appear to have been great sellers. For more on the latter, see this essay.

A last example: What books were advertised at more than one price? Here, I would expect to find situations where the booksellers were forced to lower prices.

book                  CNT                 
--------------------  -----
1745 Laws of Whist    2                   
1751 Laws of Brag     2                   
1757 Osborne 11       2                   

Three books where advertised at multiple prices. Checking the specific advertisements, I find:

date        paper                 book                  s.   d.
----------  --------------------  --------------------  ---  ---
1745-10-26  London Evening Post   1745 Laws of Whist    1    0      
1746-01-14  London Evening Post   1745 Laws of Whist    1    0      
1747-11-07  London Evening Post   1745 Laws of Whist    1    0      
1748-03-05  Whitehall Evening Pos 1745 Laws of Whist    0    6      
1748-04-30  London Evening Post   1745 Laws of Whist    0    6      
1751-11-12  London Evening Post   1745 Laws of Whist    0    6      
1751-01-22  General Advertiser    1751 Laws of Brag     2    6      
1751-01-25  General Advertiser    1751 Laws of Brag     2    6      
1751-02-28  Whitehall Evening Pos 1751 Laws of Brag     1    0      
1756-12-21  London Evening Post   1757 Osborne 11       3    0      
1757-06-10  Public Advertiser     1757 Osborne 11       3    0      
1757-12-22  Public Advertiser     1757 Osborne 11       3    6      
1757-12-24  Public Advertiser     1757 Osborne 11       3    0      
1757-12-27  Public Advertiser     1757 Osborne 11       3    0      
1760-01-03  Public Advertiser     1757 Osborne 11       3    0         

As I observed earlier, the Laws of Whist did not sell well, and Osborne lowered the price from a shilling to sixpence in 1748. Jolliffe had the same problem with the Laws of Brag, lowering the price from two shillings sixpence to a shilling almost immediately. Brag itself likely had the same problems, but I only have inferential evidence of its price. As far as the "eleventh" edition of Hoyle's Games, apparently the printer made an error in setting the December 22 advertisement.

I have a lot more data entry to do, primarily advertisements and trade sale data. Once I do that, I'll be ready to do a better job of  part 2 of "What was the Hoyle copyright worth?"

Well, I'm enjoying my new toy. What other questions should I be asking?

Saturday, October 5, 2013

What was the Hoyle copyright worth? (part 1)

Readers of this blog know that I am obsessed with the Hoyle copyright. I see Hoyle as a brand, rather than an author; a business endeavor, rather than literature (see "Continuities and Disruptions"). Understanding who owned the copyright (see "Researching Copyright"), what it was worth, and how it was exploited is, I believe, the key to understand the Hoyle canon.

One way to assess the value of the copyright is look at what booksellers actually paid for it. For example see "The Hoyle Copyright in Hoyle's Lifetime" where we see transactions for shares of the Hoyle copyright implying a value of £187 10s. in 1763 and £261 in 1767.

But how might a bookseller decide how much to pay for a copyright? In this post I am going to present a simplified model for valuing the Hoyle copyright. If the results seem reasonable, I will do the extra work of removing the simplifications.

Timing of Valuation

The model will value the copyright only at the book is about to be reprinted, the time time when it is most valuable. Booksellers make money from the copyright by printing new books for the cost of printing, paper, advertising, etc., and selling the books to retail booksellers (and perhaps wholesale booksellers as well; see the discussion below). When a book has just printed, the opportunity to produce new books and thus to make money from copyright ownership must wait until it goes out of print, reducing the value of the copyright. See the discussion in Belanger, Booksellers' Sales of Copyright: Aspects of the London Book Trade 1718-1768. Ph. D. Dissertation. Columbia University. 1970 at pages 105-8. When we compare the model's prediction of copyright value with actual sales, we will have to note the timing of the sales with respect to reprinting.


The Longman Archives give us detailed information about print runs and expenses for the Charles Jones edition of Hoyle's Games Improved and the G. H. edition of Hoyle's Games Improved and Enlarged from 1796 to 1868. I am going to use the Longman data from 1796 to 1826 because the data are more consistent year-to-year, letting me work with averages without distorting things greatly.

Printing of the Jones Hoyle. Data from the Longman archives.
The data show that the Jones Hoyle was reprinted every five years with production expenses averaging £304 and retail sales £1082.
Aside: There are some details I'm overlooking. For example the publishers would often issue sections of the book separately. See for example "Hoyle's Games Improved, Charles Jones (1800)" where I note that the publishers excerpted the treatise on game cocks and issued 500 copies. That would account for a small portion of the expenses (500 of 42,500 sheets) and bring in small additional revenue (although it was a very poor seller, with perhaps half the stock unsold fifteen years later). Similarly, portions of the book were issued separately with each edition from 1803 to 1820. It would be possible to extend the model to account for these separate issues which were governed by the same copyright.

The model values the copyright at two points in time, five years apart. These are both times when the book is about to be reprinted, so we won't have the timing problem discussed above. The major assumption of my model is this: the value of the copyright is the same at the beginning and end of the five-year period. This assumption would be silly for a typical book where the sales are uncertain. If the book sold well, the value of the copyright would increase; if it sold poorly, the value would decrease, perhaps to zero. Hoyle is an unusual case, a perenniel best-seller, where the booksellers could count on selling an entire print run of 3000 or 4000 books every five years.It seems reasonable that with unchanged prospects for the book, the value of the copyright would be unchanged as well. Perhaps the same model would apply to other best sellers such as bibles, almanacs, and school books.

A lesser assumption is that the bookseller will sell 1/5 of the books at the end of each of the five years. This is unrealistic because the book would likely sell best when it was newly published, with diminishing sales over time. Second it defers each year's sales to the end of the year--a monthly model with decaying sales would be more realistic.

Finally, I am ignoring the generous credit terms that prevailed at the time. Publishers would not pay printers immediately--six months credit was not uncommon. Similarly, publishers extended generous credit to the wholesale and retail booksellers.

The Model

The model assumes the following cash flows:
  • At the end of year 0, the bookseller purchases the whole copyright. 
  • At the end of year 0, the bookseller pays for a print run (£304)
  • At the end of each year 1 through 5, the bookseller sells 1/5 of the books at some percentage of the retail price of £1082 (see discussion below).
  • At the end of year 5 the bookseller sells the copyright for amount originally paid. 
In the model I will vary two items. First is the discount rate. In a cash flow model, future cash flows must be discounted to a present value. I've looked for historic interest rates in England in the early 19th century and they seemed to cluster around 4 or 5%. I'll look at discount rates from 3 to 6%

Second, it is not appropriate to credit the copyright owner with the full retail price of the book. Some of that profit is attributable to retail bookselling rather than publishing. Indeed there was a third role of wholesale bookselling that existed at the time. There would be separate prices from the publisher to wholesaler, wholesaler to retailer, and retailer to the public. Even where a bookseller played all three roles, we must determine a publisher's price to determine how much revenue is attributable to publishing rather than distribution.

From my reading in the early 19th century book trade, it appears that the wholesale price is about 60-75% of retail. See for example James J. Barnes, Free Trade in Books. A Study of the London Book Trade since 1800. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1964. p22. I haven't seen discussion of a publisher's price, but there is evidence that for Hoyle, it was 40% of retail. When Hoyle was reprinted in 1803, 72 copies remained unsold from the 1800 edition of 3000 copies. The copyright owners include the value of those unsold books as an expense against printing the 1803 edition at 2s. per copy. The retail price was 5s., providing evidence of a publisher's price of 40% of retail. (from the Longman Archive). For the model, I'll look at the publisher's price varying from 40 to 60%.

The Model's Output

Given a discount rate, and a publisher's price, and given that the value of the copyright is the same in the end of year 0 and year 5, you can uniquely solve for the value of the copyright.

Value of Copyright
You can see that the model is not terribly sensitive to the discount rate, but is hugely sensitive to what percent of the retail book price is ascribed to the copyright owner versus the distributors. 

I plan to share the model with friends in finance and with book historians. Next essay, I'll share their feedback and compare the modeled value of the copyright with what booksellers actually paid. More soon!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Serendipity at the Library

In my essay "A Research Trip to Cleveland," I wrote about two Hoyles I saw in the White Collection that were gathered in nines. I quoted Fredson Bowers from his Principles of Bibliographical Description:
There do exist, however, a very few extraordinary books for which it would be acceptable to use odd index numbers when the odd leaves indicate a consistent method of printing a whole book and not simply of an isolated gathering...Jacob Blanck in a recent article on Washington Irving's Salmagundi pamphlets (1807-1808), which often exhibit the initial gathering in 9's and even in 11's, refers to several early nineteenth-centruy books regularly gathered in 9's. (page 228-9)
Today I went to the San Francisco Public Library to read the Blanck article, "Salmagundi and its Publishers" in Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, Volume 41, First Quarter 1947, pp1-32.

Salmagundi is a periodical written by Washington Irving, his brother William, and James Kirke Paulding. It was issued in 20 parts in 1807 and 1808. The Blanck article describes each part according to the (pre-Bowers) bibliographical standards of the day and provides an interesting overview of the publisher, David Longworth of New York. Blanck details a number of Longworth's eccentricities, such as puffing his own business in city directories he published in the early 19th century and habitually not capitalizing "new-york."

As to the nine-leaf gatherings, Black notes:
Another of Longworth's eccentricities becomes evident when one collates Salmagundi and discovers the existence of many gatherings in nine, and one in eleven, the full significance of which can be appreciated only by a printer.6a 
The footnote continues:
6aBooks in nine are so infrequent that other examples may be of interest. Longworth was responsible for at least one other: Willia Dunlap's Ribbemont, Or The Feudal Baron, A Tragedy in Five Acts..., New-York. Printed And Published by D. Longworth...1803; this collates: [A]-D9. Longworth had no monopoly and this peculiar for of book-making. Another example is Joe Miller's Jests...A New Edition, London: Printed [by T. Kaygill, Strand] For Duncombe...[n. d., ca, 1810]. The "Jest Book," a bibliographical jest indeed, collates: [A]1, B-H9, I8.
And the serendipity? The publisher David Longworth is quite familiar to me. He published the second edition of Hoyle in America, a book I describe in "The New Pocket Hoyle, New York, 1803." The Blanck article made me wonder whether Longworth's New Pocket Hoyle might be gathered in nines--I had never collated it.

I came home to examine my copy and found it was gathered in eights, with a prosaic collation of A-G8. I must say, I was a bit disappointed! But it was amusing to seek out the PBSA article for a footnote and be entertained by the entire article!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Contemporary Reviews of Gaming Literature

updated September 6, 2013 with some more information on Cautions. I suspect more will be forthcoming shortly. 

Patrick Spedding is, among other things, the bibliographer of the 18th century novelist Eliza Haywood. On his blog, he shared some contemporary reviews of Haywood's The Wife and The Husband (both 1756) and more. Those posts made me realize that I had a number of contemporary reviews of gaming literature, but never put them together in one place. I do so here, but first, a quick update...

The Scottish Miniature

One of my favorite Hoyles is the miniature published in Dundee in 1806 that I wrote about in "The Scottish Hoyles (part 2)." I noted there that the "Canadian" copy was on its way to the National Library of Scotland. It has arrived and is noted in the "important acquisitions" section of their web site. Click here and search for "Hoyle."

Reviews of Gaming Literature

There were a number of 18th century periodicals that published reviews or notices of nearly everything published in London. The two best know are The Monthly Review (1749-1844) and The Critical Review (1756-1817). They both started after Hoyle began writing, but both reviewed some books on gaming that I have discussed in this blog and one that I have not. These reviews are hugely important as they provide contemporary evidence of book publication and of book reception.
  • The Humours of Whist
The Monthly Review for February 1753 (pp143-4) notes a new edition of The Humours of Whist, a satire of Hoyle and of the piracy of his whist treatise. The notice reads:
The polite gamester; or, the humours of whist. A dramatic satire, as acted every day at White's, and other coffee-houses and assemblies. 8vo. 6d. Cooper.
This is a new edition of a pamphlet published a few years ago; it is intended as a satire upon Hoyle, author of the treatises on whist, and other games; and also upon gaming in general.
The review did not discuss Humours as a satire of piracy. Perhaps the piracy was out of mind by 1753.
  •  Calculations, Cautions and Observations, by E. Hoyle Jun.
I have never seen a copy of this book; it is not listed in ESTC. There is a copy in the British Library catalogue, shelf mark D-7913.bb.34. My experience with the British Library is that the prefix "D-" means that the book was destroyed in the Second World War. Indeed, I have confirmed that the book has been destroyed. A second copy survives, but is unfortunately not available to the public. We are left with a fair bit of information about the book--a contemporary review and the comments of a number of gaming bibliographers, Cavendish, Marshall, Jessel, and Hargrave (see my essay "Where can I learn more about Hoyle's writing?" for details on their works) who have seen and written about it.

The Critical Review for August 1761 is rather scathing:
Calculations Cautions, and Observations;  relating to the various Games played with Cards: Addressed to the Ladies. By E. Hoyle Jun. 8vo. Pr 1s Griffiths
Had not the younger Mr Hoyle made frequent unsuccessful awkward attempts to be witty and humorous we should pass over his hackney'd admonitions to the ladies, as the well meant counsel of stupidity; but affectation merits serious reprehension. We must therefore acquaint our author, that we can calculate the duration of his literary existence, with as much certainty as ever his predecessor could calculate a game of chances; and we venture to predict as a proof of our infallibility, that he may live just till he happens to be read and no longer. (p159)
Cavendish discusses the book in his article "Historical Notes on our Nation Card Game. Chapter 1" in London Society for January 1866:
A few years later another Hoyle begotten pamphlet made its appearance. It was a moral paper, dissuading from play. It is only interesting on account of its title, which is ingeniously framed so as to obtain admission for the pamphlet into card circles. It was entitled 'Calculations, Cautions, and Observations relating to various Games played with Cards. By Edmond Hoyle, jun.' The writer, under this pseudonym (which was, of course adopted to catch the eye), professed to be Hoyle's nephew. (volume 9, p65)
Similar comments were made by Julian Marshall in "Books on Gaming" in Notes and Queries for February 22, 1890:
At this point I must briefly mention a book which appeared with the following title : "Calculations, | Cautions, | and | Observations ; | Relating to | the various Games | played with | Cards: | Addressed to the Ladies. | By Edmond Hoyle, Jun.," 12mo., London, 1761, pp. 47, including subtitle and title. (B.M. and G.C.) In this there is nothing of our author's writing. It is a pamphlet in which the writer, who professes to be Hoyle's nephew, seeks to dissuade his readers from indulging in play. Of course, it is possible that Hoyle left a nephew...Much more probably "E. Hoyle, Jun." is a pseudonym, adopted with the idea that it would draw attention, as it doubtless did, to this pamphlet, which would have otherwise passed unnoticed. (7th ser. IX, p143)
The abbreviations B.M. and G.C. indicate that Marshall had seen the now-lost copy at the British Museum (now the British Library) and that in the collection of George Clulow. The United States Playing Card Company bought the Clulow collection in about 1900. Hargrave lists the Clulow copy on page 395 of her book A History of Playing Cards. Unfortunately, the UPSCC collection is not open to the public. 

Bibliographer Jessel had clearly seen a copy as he writes in his bibliography:
Probably a pseudonym. The author professes to be a nephew of Hoyles. The book contains a long extract from a Poem on Piquet, which I have been unable to trace. (p150) 
Within gaming literature, there is a sub-genre dealing with the morality of gaming. (See "The Nature of Gaming Literature (part 2)"). Hoyle never addressed the question and it is ironic that someone should exploit his name in doing so.

Although the book is unavailable, we are fortunate to have some much detail about it.
  • A New Treatise upon Real Quadrille
In my essay "Piquet and Quadrille Literature" I discuss a number of 18th century works on those card games, including the 1764 work A New Treatise upon Real Quadrille from the French of M. Martin. The Monthly Review for September 1764 gives a long excerpt and favorable notice (pp238-9):
A new Treatise upon real Quadrille, translated into English from the original French of Mons Martin...Small 8vo. 2s. 6d. sewed. Burnet.

The learned Author of this important treatise sets forth, as his motive for offering it to the public, that 'Quadrille, as it is played in England, is so little known in foreign countries, that an Englishman who goes abroad, is entirely ignorant of this game, except it be the value of the cards, their rank and order, and he cannot play it in any other country, so much has it been changed and augmented; from being tedious and languid, it has been rendered lively and amusing, by the additions and improvements it has received. Those who sit down only for amusement, will receive as much pleasure as those who play for profit and advantage.

'As the same taste cannot prevail for any length of time, it is requisite there should be as much variety in our amusements as in our dress. Quadrille fixes its reign in England; it occupies the attention of the Nobility, as well as the subordinate class of Gentry.' It is therefore to satisfy both, that I offer this treatise, which is written for those only who are acquainted with Quadrille after the English manner, who know the fort and foible of the game, and for these it will be necessary for me to enter into such disquisitions as they are unacquainted with; Beginners may have recourse to Mr. Hoyle's principles, I shall only rectify such mistakes as he has fallen into; add what he has omitted; stipulate the payments; being basted; the voles; the different changes the game at Quadrille may undergo; adding to each chapter, hands for and against; that is to say, the manner in which they should be played, either to win or lose them. It would be impossible to describe all the various turns which this game is susceptible of, a volume in folio would not be sufficient to compass such a design. I shall therefore only enter into the most material parts, and practice will render perfect such as would make themselves compleat masters.'

There is no doubt but this treatise will meet with all the encouragement which a work of so much consequence to the sons and daughters of Dissipation deserves; and the ingenious Author may, possibly, in time, become as great a man as the great Mr. Hoyle. To render it still the more fashionable, and the more universally acceptable and useful, it is printed in French and English;—perhaps too, with a particular view of introducing it, as a school-book, into the principal boarding-schools, those especially for the education of young Ladies.
The Knave of Diamonds tries his wily arts,
And wins, O shameful chance! the Queen of Hearts.
  • Whist, A Poem in Twelve Cantos
I am much less familiar with The Analytic Review published by the dissident John Johnson. In an appendix to Volume IX for 1791 (pp515-7), there is a review for Whist, A Poem in Twelve Cantos, a book which I discuss in the essay "Eighteenth Century Whist Literature:"
The author of this poem is not destitute of talents, for versifying; and truly he needs them all, when he undertakes to berhime the laws and maxims of the game of whist. The poem opens with an invocation to the spirit of Hoyle, and observations on the invention of cards, in which the writer describes, with some humour, the benefits which mankind have received from it. An agreeable tale of young Moody and his aunts, by whom the game of whist was first invented and practised, prepares the way for a full detail of the laws of whist ; and a long course of rules is laid down respecting memory, judgment, and temper. The poem, when it becomes didactic, is tedious; but it is occasionally enlivened with pleasing fiction, and with reflections, in which the writer, not unsuccessfully, indulges a vein of ironical humour. 
The review quotes some 90+ lines from the poem, then concludes:.
After the amusement this poem has afforded us, we feel ourselves not disinclined to admit the author's own judgment upon his work, when towards the close he lays,
I paused, and what was done with joy reviewed,
And thought it (if I here the truth may tell)
Hit off, upon the whole, exceeding well.

I wish that the reviews were in existence in the early 1740s when Hoyle was producing most of his books. It would have been interesting to see how they were received.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

A Research Trip to Cleveland

I'm just back from a week in my home town of Cleveland, Ohio, where I did spent the bulk of my time doing research in the John G. White Chess Collection at the Cleveland Public Library.
[I also spent a lot of time with family and friends, visited the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and saw a great Indians' win at Progressive Field.] 
White was an attorney, president of the library's board of trustees, and a fanatic and careful collector of chess, checkers, folklore, and orientalia. His books make up the core of Special Collections at the library--the chess collection is the deepest in the world. And of course where there is chess, there is Hoyle.

The staff could not have been more helpful, paging more than a hundred edition of Hoyle for me and suggesting other items I should see. I have not yet assimilated it all, so for now I will discuss a few random items and relate them to my Hoyle research.

Challenges for the Hoyle bibliographer

In the essay "Eighteenth Century Backgammon Literature" I noted that compiling a list of Hoyle's writings is difficult because there are books which reprint his text without attribution:
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?
Not really a Hoyle
Cleveland Public Library
John White Collection
I saw the other side of this coin in Cleveland.  An 1815 book on draughts (checkers) published in Albany by the author purports to contain "forty games from Hoyle, Payne, and Sturges" and would thus seem to belong in a Hoyle bibliography. Alas, Hoyle never wrote about draughts. Clearly what happened is the author reprinted material from Payne that was reprinted in the 1779 edition of Hoyle's Games Improved, a book I discuss in "The most important Hoyle after Hoyle." Does this belong in a Hoyle bibliography? Why did Hoyle's name appear on the title page?

The Rimington-Wilson chess manuscript

I've written a number of posts on the Rimington-Wilson chess collection and its dispersal first at a 1928 Sotheby's auction and then by the Quaritch firm (see here and here). The most interesting R-W item was a manuscript translation of Vida's 1527 poem Scacchia Ludus (The Game of Chess), believed to be in the hand of Oliver Goldsmith. The essays about the manuscript (here, and more recently here) have been among the most popular on this blog.

John White purchased a number of items from the Rimington-Wilson collection, including a marvelous 1885 hand list of the chess library. [Aside: There is a hand list of R-W's sporting books (hunting, mountaineering, etc.) at the Albert and Shirley Small Library at the University of Virginia.] Below is R-W's description of the "Goldsmith" manuscript from the hand list of chess books:

Rimington-Wilson's description of manuscript Vida translation
Cleveland Public Library
John White Collection
Rimington-Wilson clearly believed the manuscript was penned by Goldsmith!

A rare bookseller's ticket

Wicksteed Ticket
Cleveland Public Library
John White Collection
White had a copy of the prosaic 1826 Hoyle's Games Improved edited by Charles Jones. From the Longman archive (discussed here), we know that 4000 copies were printed and that John Wicksteed owned a 1/72 share of the copyright, entitling him to 55 copies. What makes White's copy special is that it still has the ticket from Wicksteed's bookshop, a rare survival, and one that I felt privileged to see.

The loveliest book...
1768 Chess in Italian
Cleveland Public Library
John White Collection

...was of course a chess item. White owned a copy of the 1768 Italian translation of Hoyle's chess essay, published in Florence. Although rebound, the original printed blue wrappers were bound in, giving a sense of what the book must have looked like as issued. The Florentines made beautiful books.


Unusual structures

Most of the Hoyles are in duodecimo (12mo) format, meaning there are 12 leaves (24 pages) to a printed sheet. They are gathered in sections of either 6 or 12. Some late 18th century Hoyles are 18mo, gathered in sixes, resulting in smaller and cheaper books. I saw two books that I believe were printed in 18mo format that were gathered peculiarly.

One, an 1805 edition of Pigott's New Hoyle (discussed here) was gathered in sections of 9 leaves. This seems completely crazy. To make things easy on the binder, you want an even number of leaves in each gathering, so you can fold the leaves and sew the book through the folds. To make gatherings of 9 leaves, the binder folded and sewed 8-leaf gatherings and pasted the 9th leaf in the middle. So much unnecessary work (though a bit less sewing than if the book were gathered in sixes).

I'm not sure how to write the collation formula for the book. Based on what I saw, I'm tempted to write 18o: π2 A2+1 B-N9 O6 (-O6) P6+3. Bowers, in Principles of Bibliographical Description, has a long rant against "odd index figures" beginning on page 225, arguing forcefully that they should not be used. On the other hand, he notes:
There do exist, however, a very few extraordinary books for which it would be acceptable to use odd index numbers when the odd leaves indicate a consistent method of printing a whole book and not simply of an isolated gathering...Jacob Blanck in a recent article on Washington Irving's Salmagundi pamphlets (1807-1808), which often exhibit the initial gathering in 9's and even in 11's, refers to several early nineteenth-centruy books regularly gathered in 9's. (page 228-9)
I'll look for the Blanck article and for now suspect that the 1805 Pigott Hoyle is one of those "few extraordinary books."

Even stranger was an undated 19th century New Pocket Hoyle printed by R. Walwyn in London. It appears to be an 18mo, gathered in sections of 8 leaves, 1 leaf, 8 leaves, and 1 leaf. The collation formula might look something like 18o:  A2 B8 C1 D8 E1 F8 G1 H8 I1 K8 L1 M8 (M8 missing, blank?). Or perhaps Bowers might approve the shorthand 18o:  A2 B-L8/1 M8 (M8 missing, blank?), although that uses another...odd index figure. It's also interesting that the A and M gatherings total 9 leaves as well--likely they were printed together. I couldn't determine the conjugacy of the leaves in the final gathering. 

More Irish Cancels

Until my Cleveland visit, I had never seen a copy of The Polite Gamester, Dublin: printed by James Hoey, 1783. In the essay "Every Cancel Tells a Story, Don't It? (part 1)" I showed that in 1776 Hoey reissued Ewing's 1772 Polite Gamester with canceled title pages. He did that because Ewing had died and he acquired Ewing's unsold stock--the title page would tell customers where they could buy the book. Surprisingly, the 1783 Hoey edition is a second reissue of the 1772 book with a second set of revised title pages. Hoey's motivation for the second reissue is less certain. Clearly he had unsold stock and perhaps he wished to make it look more current with a new date.


What makes a good research trip? Certainly the collection is most important, but a comfortable reading room and supportive staff are also important. I found all three in Special Collections at the Cleveland Public Library. Every chess (and Hoyle) researcher needs to visit the John White collection!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Researching Copyright

Copyright is an important theme throughout this blog. I have used many tools to research the ownership of the Hoyle copyright and have recently "discovered" a new one. This essay will describe the tools giving examples from my research. Some provide a snapshot of ownership at a point in time while others document sales of copyright shares, typically with the price paid, letting us value the copyright at a point in time. Like any historical evidence, there is a random nature to what records have survived and therefore how complete a story can be uncovered.

Stationers' Register

The Worshipful Company of Stationers and Newspaper Makers was the guild of the book trade in the City of London. They maintained a register of books where copyright owners could record their right to print a book. Hoyle entered A Short Treatise on the Game of Whist in the register on November 17, 1742 as the sole proprietor. Hoyle and Cogan jointly entered the backgammon treatise on June 28, 1743 and the piquet treatise on January 11, 1744. Hoyle registered Brag on January 18, 1751. [Aside: the latter two years are recorded in the register as 1743 and 1750--the register uses old style dating in which the first day of the new year is March 25.] His other works were not recorded with the Stationers Company.

Stationers' Register entry for Hoyle's Piquet


The imprint of a book frequently provides reliable data on copyright ownership. For example, the first edition of Whist had the imprint "printed by John Watts for the author" and the first collected edition of Hoyle's Games was "printed for T. Osborne." Imprints, however, can be fictitious, as was the case with the 1743 piracies of Whist, and for many of the books published by Francis Cogan. The imprint provides a coarse view of copyright ownership--a book may remain in print for many years during which time the copyright ownership can change. Sometimes, booksellers would go to the expense of reissuing books with new title pages to update the imprint (for examples, see the discussion of The Compleat Gamester, Quadrille and Piquet, and The Polite Gamester), but often the book would continue to sell with the old imprint.

Publishers Records

Infrequently, at least for the time period I care about, publisher's business records may survive providing evidence of copyright ownership. The essay "Hoyle's Games Improved, Charles Jones (1800)" used business records of the Longman firm to identify the owners and their shares of the copyright for an 1800 Hoyle. At the end of this piece, I will take a second look at that essay and the editions of 1796 and 1800.

Bookseller Trade Sales

Throughout the 18th century, London booksellers would hold frequent sales of copyrights and physical books. We are extremely fortunate that so many long runs of these sale catalogues have survived. Better still, they tend to be annotated with information about the purchaser and purchase price. I have discussed these trade sales a number of times--the essay "The Hoyle Copyright in Hoyle's Lifetime" is a good example with some illustrations from the catalogues. Most of the Hoyle sales are for a fractional share of a copyright, providing only transactional information. For example the above essay notes that on April 21, 1763, Henry Woodfall bought two one-sixth shares of Hoyle. Other sources are required to find who owned the rest. When the trade sale offers the full share, the catalogue can provide a complete snapshot of ownership.


In my discussion of the 1779 Jones Hoyle, I cited a receipt where bookseller Thomas Payne sold the rights to a book on draughts (checkers) to Thomas Lowndes for inclusion into Hoyle's Games Improved. Similar receipts survive for copyrights sold at bookseller trade sales. For example Lowndes bought a 1/12 interest in Hoyle from a member of the Baldwin family for £22 15s on February 5, 1771. The receipt is useful because if the catalogue for that trade sale survives, I have not located a copy.


Newspaper advertisements for books typically include imprint-like information so that the customer can learn where to purchase the book. It had not occurred to me until quite recently to compare advertisements with the imprints of books they advertise. When copyright ownership changes while a book is still in print, it is possible to detect the change in advertisements even if the book was not reissued with a cancel title. This provides a less coarse view of copyright ownership than imprints.

"tenth" edition
printed for Osborne

An interesting example is the "tenth" edition of Hoyle's Games printed for Thomas Osborne, a book which I discuss in "Reissues of Mr. Hoyle's Treatises (1748-1755)." The book was first published in 1748 as an "eighth" edition and reissued by Osborne as a "tenth" in 1750 (pictured at left), remaining in print through 1755.

December 24, 1755
The Public Advertiser
Some advertisements from December 1755 such as the one pictured at left offer the "tenth" edition printed for T. Osborne, J. Hodges, and R. Baldwin. There are no copies of the "tenth" with Hodges or Baldwin on the imprint.

"eleventh" edition printed for
Osborne, Hodges, and Baldwin

When the "eleventh" edition was published in December 1756, the imprint did include Osborne, Hodges, and Baldwin.

What we learn from the advertisements is that Hodges and Baldwin invested in the Hoyle copyright at least a year earlier than one can infer from the imprints.

A second example applies to the Charles Jones Hoyles. In my essay "Hoyle's Games Improved, Charles Jones (1800)," I noted that Longman was not on the imprint of the 1796 edition, was in 1800. Because the Longman business records survive, we have much financial detail about the 1800 Hoyle. It turns out that advertisements from December 1798 mention the Longman firm, so they must have purchased a share of the Hoyle copyright two years before the 1800 edition was published.

Those advertisements sent me back to the Longman archives, looking for more details about the 1796 edition. I found that Longman owned a 1/24 share of the Hoyle copyright, although the records did not list the other owners and their shares. The records indicate a print run of 3000 copies, which at the sale price of 3s. 6d. meant £525 in revenue. Expenses totalled £125, primarly paper (a bit more than £70), printing (£28 12s.), and advertising (almost £21).

So, I've discovered that newspaper advertisements can identify changes in copyright ownership that are more fine-grained than imprints. This is not a terribly profound discovery, I suppose, but it gives me another tool to explore the Hoyle copyright. I have nearly 500 advertisements for Hoyles and wish myself happy digging!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Second Anniversary: Continuities and Disruptions

Today marks the second anniversary of my Hoyle blog. As you will see below, the title does not refer to the blog! Some quick data on the past two years before I clarify the title:
  • This is essay number 89 and if they average approximately 750 words, I have written in excess of 65,000 words or more than 200 pages worth of text.
  • My pace has slowed from the first year in which I wrote 64 posts, slightly more than one a week. The 25 that have been written average to a post every fortnight.
  • Total page views will reach 18,000 today, most of which are from serious readers, though some are marketers trying to make money from my work.
  • The most popular posts are those that I have linked to on mailing lists or bulletin boards. Three of the top five provided background for queries I posted to the Exlibris listserv. Two of these concerned the Rimington-Wilson Library ("The J. W. Rimington-Wilson Library (part 1)" and "More on Rimington-Wilson's Chess Manuscript ") and one asked about a seeming inconsistency in the ownership of the Hoyle copyright, with the group's received wisdom summarized here. Number three in terms of popularity was “Eighteenth Century Backgammon Literature” which I shared on the backgammon forum BGOnline. That essay will be reprinted next month in a British Backgammon periodical. 
My future plans for the blog revolve around my other publishing ambitions. I have a second journal article that has been stuck at 60% completion for more than a year. I have a research trip planned next month that I expect to provide the information that will enable its completion. I have thoughts for another journal article or two.

My longer-term dream is to write a book about Hoyle. I originally conceived of the book as a descriptive bibliography of editions of Hoyle through 1800, with essays on topics in bibliography and book history that arise in the study of the Hoyle canon. Many of the essays were to be based on work originally published in this blog.

As I have started to outline and write sections of the book, I find myself considering major changes in both its scope and organization. The insight that is leading me to change is this:
Hoyle was published from 1742 to 1865 as a relatively continuous and hugely successful business enterprise centered in London. The enterprise was built on Hoyle as a brand, rather than Hoyle as an author.
This insight is recent. The continuity is easy to miss when confronted by the roughly 200 18th century books that could be considered editions of Hoyle (by including his writing, or by using his name as author or in the title). Carry on to 1850 and there are another 150 candidates with more beyond. The continuity is also easy to miss when one focuses on the text of Hoyle. Hoyle's last writing was in 1763. Other editors and writers added so frequently to the text that Hoyle's contribution is barely discernible, yet titles such as The New Hoyle, Hoyle Abridged, or Hoyle Made Familiar abound.

The continuity is more apparent when one focuses on the 75 books that make up the mainstream of Hoyle. These fall neatly into three groups, linked by the booksellers that published them:
  • First are the 45 authorized books consisting entirely of writing by Hoyle, published through 1775. The copyright was owned first by Hoyle, then by Francis Cogan (see "Bibliography of the Cogan Hoyles"), and then Thomas Osborne (see for example "The First Osborne Hoyles", "The Osborne Collections of Hoyle ", "Mr. Hoyle's Treatises", and "Reissues of Mr. Hoyle's Treatises "). Upon Osborne's death in 1767, a group of assignees headed by Richard Baldwin continued to publish Hoyle.

  • In the aftermath of Becket vs. Donaldson, Hoyle was in the public domain and a number of competing versions came out. Swift action and shrewd marketing allowed Baldwin and others (notably the Longman firm) to maintain market dominance with Hoyle’s Games Improved. The book, edited by Charles Jones, still contained much of Hoyle’s writing, but each of its 11 editions (and a greater number of separate issues) through 1826, added new games and new authors. See for example "The Most Important Hoyle after Hoyle", and "Hoyle's Games Improved, Charles Jones (1800)".

  • Longman and others brought out six editions of Hoyle’s Games Improved and Enlarged from 1835 to 1865, edited by someone known only by the initials G. H. I have not discussed the book in this blog. The textual link to Hoyle becomes further attenuated, even as his name stays in the title. Yet crucially, the publishers remain the same and the books are dominant in the London market, despite substantial competition.
One sees, through these 75 books, the building of a Hoyle brand by Cogan, Osborne, Baldwin, and Longman. And I'm seeing my bibliography less as an author bibliography of Edmond Hoyle and more as a business bibliography--the development of the Hoyle brand.

The remaining Hoyles, perhaps 300 in the years 1742 to 1865 are of mixed significance. Some were quite disruptive, requiring a response from the mainstream publishers if they were to maintain leadership. The disruptions include the piracies of 1743, the proliferation of competitors with the end of perpetual copyright in 1774, and novel new series such as The New Pocket Hoyle in 1802. The main publishers of Hoyle withstood these disruptions and more, and their responses are evident in the text, the physical books, and their marketing.

There were other publications of Hoyle’s work that did not disrupt the main enterprise. Obvious candidates include reprints of Hoyle in Ireland (which had its own continuities and disruptions), reprints in America, and translations on the Continent. None of these efforts competed significantly with London, nor did they require a response from the London publishers. Equally inconsequential to London were one-time piracies and one-off editions (such as the Brambles edition, described here) that did not pose a serious marketing threat.

I am now thinking that I want to organize both the bibliography and the essays around the theme of business continuities and disruptions in the creation of the Hoyle brand. The implication is that the bibliography won’t be organized in a typical fashion. Many bibliographies are arranged as a strict chronology. Others are organized by title, and within title, different editions and issues are organized chronologically. The former approach seems appropriate for a bibliography for a printing house or publisher. The latter is typical for an author bibliography and is useful as a precursor to textual and literary criticism. I can’t really imagine anyone interested in producing a critical edition of Hoyle, nor engaging in literary criticism—neither of those reflects what is important about Hoyle.

What would a bibliography organized around the Hoyle brand look like? The first major section would discuss the mainstream effort from 1742 to 1865. The second section would be the 1743 piracies which were hugely disruptive and greatly affected the evolution of the Hoyle product and its marketing. Next would be the disruptions brought about with the competition in the wake of Beckett v Donaldson, and so on. Separate sections would be the Dublin and American reprints which were neither part of the continuous main narrative, nor did they disrupt it.

A consequence of this organization is that editions of a single work would be spread across multiple sections. For example the authorized London editions of A Short Treatise on the Game of Whist would appear in the main section, the important “Webster” and “Webb” editions in a section on the 1743 piracies, and the Irish reprints of Whist in a third section. This might make it difficult to follow the transmission of the text, but I expect that judicious notes and appendices would provide connections that otherwise might be lost.

A second consequence is that my original plan to stop at the artificial date of 1800 does not make sense. Many of the publishing efforts--the mainline work of Baldwin and Longman, the infuriating chapbooks by Robert Withy, and the competition from Pigott--straddle that year. Going beyond 1800 introduces a lot of one-off works such as the miniature published in Dundee, that are neither continuities nor disruptions.

A third consequence is that the essays will tie more closely to the sections of the descriptive bibliography. For example, I’ve written a great deal in this blog about the Dublin reprints. Both that writing and the books it describes are logically separable from everything else. Clarity would be lost if the descriptive bibliography mixed the Dublin reprints with the underlying London texts.

In his landmark Principles of Bibliographical Description, Fredson Bowers writes that every bibliography “should have a unified subject, a definite purpose expressed in its arrangement and in its treatment of the books described so that a shaping intelligence guides the work.” (page 18). I’m coming to the conclusion that while my unified subject is Hoyle, the nature of the material is not suited to the format of a typical author bibliography. What seems to connect the books is that evolution of the Hoyle product and brand in the face of stringent competition. I’ve never seen a bibliography organized the way I am proposing, yet it seems to be the best way to rationalize an extremely complex series of books.

Lastly, do not fear that what I'm contemplating is no longer descriptive bibliography. The marketing battles left numerous fascinating traces in the physical books.

I’d be anxious to hear from anyone who has thoughts about my proposal.