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.