Friday, December 19, 2014

2014: The Year in Collecting

Last year, I published a similarly titled essay. I commented there that it was difficult to find new Hoyle material and that a dozen items a year was a good target. In 2013, I found eight books only. In 2014, the number was ten. Before discussing the highlights, let me comment on work in progress.

As I wrote last month, I started the online Hoyle bibliography in early September. I have drafted 99 book descriptions, with the hundredth likely to be uploaded today or tomorrow. This is not to say that the work is is 100% complete. There are aspects of style that I need to standardize among the descriptions. I need to proofread the quasi-facsimile transcriptions. Most importantly, there is a lot of text to be written discussing each book and how it fits into the canon. But I do have credible technical descriptions of many Hoyles. I expect the number to double by the time I am finished.

With all the work on book descriptions, I have been neglecting this blog. Some planned but unwritten essays include the first recorded hand at whist, discussed by Julian Laderman is his recent book Bumblepuppy Days: The Evolution from Whist to Bridge. I also want to write about a fantastic whist fan I saw at the Greenwich Fan Museum, a gem of a London destination. You may recall my earlier fan-related essays "The Fans of Hoyle" and "Unusual Bibliographical Evidence." And that is just the top of my long list...

So what is new in 2014? I'll discuss the best of the newcomers in the order they were published.

1745 Quadrille
The earliest was the Osborne's 1745 reissue of Quadrille, first published by Francis Cogan in 1744. See its description and an earlier essay. What is odd about the copy is that it is not autographed by Hoyle, as he was under contract to do. One will find this book unautographed as part of an Osborne collection, but this copy shows no signs of having once been part of a larger volume. A minor mystery.

The next two books were published just a week apart, judging from newspaper advertisements. The rare reissue of Hoyle's Doctrine of Chances (see the essay "The Yorkshire Hoyles and the Doctrine of Chances") was advertised on December 24, 1760. I won't discuss it further here, but the book gets top honors among the 2014 acquisitions.

1761 Essay on Chess
A story goes with the next item. A week ago Tuesday, I wrote the description for Hoyle's Essay on Chess and uploaded it to my web site. Not only did I not own a copy, but I hadn't seen one for sale in the last thirty years. Chess is much more actively collected than other games and many of the great collections have found their way into institutions such as the John White collection in Cleveland or the collection at the Koninklijke Bibliotheek in the Hague. The book is quite scarce on the market.

In a charming coincidence, the day after, a copy of the chess essay appeared on eBay with a "buy-it-now" option. Of course I bought it! What is intriguing about this copy is that it is autographed not only by Edmond Hoyle and Thomas Osborne, but apparently by Richard Baldwin as well. You can see the ascenders in his signature, sadly trimmed in the course of binding. For a clear example of his signature, see the essay "The Doctrine of Chances." This book was first advertised on December 30, 1760, just six days after the reissue of Chances. Some copies of Chess have a final leaf with an advertisement for Chances; in mine, the leaf was removed prior to binding.

I tried to repeat the describe-it-then-buy-it experience the next day, but of course without success.

1811 Pigott's New Hoyle
As I wrote in the essay "The Pigott Hoyles", it is hard to figure out the publishing history of The New Hoyle. Undated books and inconsistent statements of edition create confusion. This 1811 "new edition, improved" manages to misspell Pigott's name on the title page. It seems to be a rarity, with copies recorded only at Oxford, the Cleveland Public Library, and the University of North Carolina.

The best "non-Hoyle" of the year is another example of a work published by Bob Short (a pseudonym of Robert Withy), or here, Bob Short Junior. I describe a number of these "Short Rules" here.  This work, on draughts or checkers, was not written by Hoyle who never wrote about the game. Yet it carries the phrase Hoyle Abridged on the title page. I discuss another example of this phenomenon in the essay "A Research Trip to Cleveland." I like the fact that the book is in entirely original condition including the paper label on the cover.

1828 Draughts (title)
1828 Draughts (cover)

I've skipped a handful of other acquisitions: an early American edition of Hoyle, a French translation dated 1770 that has enough mystery about it to warrant its own essay, a 1796 Charles Jones Hoyle (discussed briefly here), and some duplicates that I snagged at auction for half the low estimate.

Having mentioned "A Research Trip to Cleveland", I note in passing that it is the most visited page on the blog, the only page with more than 500 visits. Overall, the blog has had 41,000 page visits and should reach the 50,000 milestone this summer.

Best wishes, all, for the holidays and the new year. What will 2015 add to the Hoyle collection?