Monday, December 12, 2016

Another 2016 Acquisition

Only days ago, I published an essay on my 2016 acquisitions. One more just arrived from Austria. I didn't include it in the previous essay because it had been stuck in US Customs for weeks due to some combination of Christmas volume and Homeland Security. But now that it is here, I find much to discuss about the lovely book.

title page

The short title is Gr√ľndliche Anweisung zum Whist-Spiele, published in Vienna and Prague in 1821. It is an anthology of English whist literature translated into German as is evident from a phrase in the long title: "based on examples after the best information of the old as well as the new school from Hoyle to Matthews".

The binding is boards covered with marbled paper and a red leather label on the spine reading "Adams, Whist Spiele." I've never been a huge fan of German books of this era. The fraktur is a challenge for me. The paper generally does not feel good to the touch and the binding is often brittle (though not in this case). This book may be the one to help me overcome my biases--I find it rather charming!


I cannot read the German, but the book has chapters excerpting the important English writers on whist. There is Herrn Hoyle.


After Hoyle, Herrn William Payne wrote Maxims for the Game of Whist. I discuss Payne's writing in the essay "The Most Important Hoyle After Hoyle".


Most of Adams' book is a translation of Thomas Matthews Advice to the Young Whist Player, an important and frequently-reprinted work I discuss here.


And somewhat surprisingly, there are excerpts from Charles Pigott's New Hoyle. New material did appear in later editions of Pigott, all published by James Ridgway after Pigott's death, but they were not about whist, but about other games. See "The Pigott Hoyles" for a list of editions of his books.

All in all, a lot for a small 196 page work! Now, a conundrum. Do I shelve it with my whist books or with my Hoyle's?

There is one other thing I find interesting. The signature marks have a different pattern from anything I've ever seen. The book is a duodecimo, regularly gathered in eights and fours. The first leaf of each gathering is signed numerically 1-16, but the second leaf of each eight-leaf gathering is signed 1*, 3* ... 15*. Only the first leaf is signed in the four-leaf gatherings. I've posted a query to book lists EXLIBRIS-L and SHARP-L to learn if this is typical of the time and location. As I said it's new to me.

There is one other 2016 purchase that is on it's way from Italy, but based on my experience with this book, I can't imagine it clearing customs until the New Year. Read about it perhaps a year from now.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

2016: The Year in Collecting

Earlier this year, the Book Club of California hosted the annual tour of the Fellowship of American Bibliophilic Societies. I was a panelist for a session entitled "Delights and Dilemmas of Booksellers, Librarians, and Private Collectors."  The dilemma I discussed is one familiar to the long-time collector--I don't find much to buy in my area of interest. The upside is that when I do find something, it's quite delightful. There is a video archive of the discussion on the BCC web site.

With that thought, 2016 was, like 2013, 2014, and 2015, a pretty quiet year in collecting. I've already written about the most interesting books, the Scottish miniature in a slip case and the early English book with the rules of piquet. I have four items to discuss here and will treat them in the order published.

The New Pocket Hoyle (1807)
The oldest is a third edition of The New Pocket Hoyle printed by T. Davison for Robert Scholey and others, 1807. Like the first edition, discussed in my essay "Late Hoyles, Early Slipcases", the book was sold in multiple formats, this one in a slip case covered with an engraving dated 1805. It's hard to be 100% sure, but I believe the engraving is identical to the one dated 1802 used in the first edition--the engraver appears to have changed only the date. You can judge for yourself by comparing the picture at right with that in the earlier essay. The New Pocket Hoyle is a relatively common book and was priced accordingly, but it is delightful to find it in a well-preserved case.

Early American Hoyles are much less common. I found the shabby copy of Hoyle's Games pictured below on eBay. It is printed and sold by John Bioren in Philadelphia in 1817. There is a crude tape repair to the spine, but the printed paper covered board has somehow survived. There are only three known copies of this book and I'm only a bit embarrassed to say that I have two of them. Yes, this was a duplicate; perhaps one of my copies will make it to the American Antiquarian Society at some point. They try to collect every early American imprint and tend to be active on eBay. I don't know how they missed this one.

Hoyle's Games, Philadelphia (1817)

Hoyle's Card Games, Glasgow (1826)
Astonishingly, I found another delight on eBay. This is a Glasgow imprint of Hoyle's Card Games (1826). The text is the same as the Bath edition of 1824, and I was aware of an 1827 Glasgow edition with copies at Oxford and Louisiana State (in the poker and Hoyle collection of Judge Olivier P. Carriere). The 1826 Glasgow edition was not known anywhere. Alas the book is imperfect, lacking two leaves at the end, but it seems to be the only survival, so I can't much complain.

Bob Short on Whist (1832)
Finally, a travel story. My family visited Italy and Spain in the Spring. Had I been alone I would have attended the international book fair in Bologna and visited a number of fine book shops in Italy and Madrid. I had different priorities with my family but was pleased to happen upon a shop in Sienna. There I found two gaming books, one of which was a delight. It consisted of four pamphlets in Italian bound together: two on chess, one on the card game of calabrasella, and the last...Hoyle's rules for whist compiled by "Bob Short".

As regular readers may recall, Bob Short is a pseudonym for Robert Withy, about whom I've written frequently. His short rules for whist date to the late 18th century and were reprinted frequently in the first half of the 19th. This Italian edition of 1832 purports to be a third edition. I've tracked down a Florence edition of 1820 which seems to be the earliest, but no sign of a second edition.

Most rare book purchases are online these days. It's a delight to walk into a shop at random and find something that fits so well into my collection. I definitely miss the days when that happened much more frequently!