Monday, December 31, 2018

2018: The Year in Collecting (second addendum)

Another book sneaked its way here just before year-end. It's one of the charming "Bob Short" chapbooks on whist. "Short" is the pseudonym for Robert Withy as discussed here, here, and here.

There are many editions, often with provincial imprints. In the aggregate, these booklets are quite common, but any particular one is scarce. This 1819 edition, printed by John Stacy in Norwich for Reynolds in London and Stacy is a good example. The British Library copy was lost in World War II, as is indicated by the "D-" in the shelfmark D-7913.a.70. There is a copy in private hands in the UK. This one makes three. Err...two.

There are two things I particularly like about it. First are the marbled wrappers. Original bindings are the best!

Second is the advertisement for The British Melodist, a book that may not have survived exactly as advertised--there is a single copy of an 1822 edition at the University of Aberdeen, but how would that be advertised in an 1819 book? 

Anyway, 2018 is a wrap. What will 2019 bring?

Monday, December 17, 2018

2018: The Year in Collecting (addendum)

The ink wasn't even dry on my essay "2018: The Year in Collecting" when an extraordinary item turned up on eBay of all places. The book is the first American book on card games, or more accurately, one of three "firsts," all published at the same time. It is a 1796 reprint Hoyle's Games Improved by James Beaufort. It was originally printed in London in 1775 and again in London in 1788.

1796 Beaufort Hoyle, Philadelphia
Three issues of the book appeared in America in 1796, one with a Boston imprint, another New York, and this one, Philadelphia and Baltimore. When I wrote about these books in the essay "More Hoyle Collectibles," I expected the latter two books to have cancel titles. Having seen more copies, I now see that titles are not cancels, but are all the same setting of type except for the imprint. They were all printed in Boston, but distributed by booksellers in multiples cities.

1796 Beaufort Hoyle, Boston

Perhaps you can compare the type with the Boston issue, pictured at right.

The binding, pictured below, is contemporary and in remarkably good condition other than a slight loss in the red label.

1796 Beaufort Hoyle, Philadelphia

Now I have two of three issues. Does anyone know where I can pick up the one sold in New York?

Monday, December 10, 2018

2018: The Year in Collecting

A dozen books found their way to my library this year. Some are inexpensive 19c Hoyles that filled gaps in the collection. Others are gaming items unrelated to Hoyle or the games he treated. I want to highlight four of the books in detail here.

I purchased the first book, a duplicate, because of the binding, paper pasted over boards. The book, The New Hoyle printed for the George Walker (1817) is common, but the cover, though a bit tattered, shows how the book would have been offered for sale. I am a huge fan of books in their original binding.

wrapper for The New Hoyle
engraved frontispiece and title

I also like the engraved frontispiece and extra engraved title page. The frontispiece is far from fine art, but I believe it plays an important role in marketing the book. With Hoyle's writing not in copyright in 1817, a publisher needed to do something to distinguish his Hoyle from the others on the market. The engraving is more difficult and expensive to copy than the text. This edition is also distinguished by its small format and price of 3s., less than half that of the market-leading Charles Jones Hoyle published in 1814 at 7s.6d. 

Companion (1820)

Second is Hoyle's Games Improved and Selected as a Companion to the Card Table, revised and corrected by Charles Jones, 1820. The title suggests that the contents are extracted from a larger work; indeed it consists of the first 192 pages, the card games only, from Hoyle's Games Improved, a later edition of the market leader mentioned above. The full book (502 pages) includes board games, billiards, and outdoor activities such as golf and horse racing.

What is most interesting is that the extract is from the same setting of type as the complete work, allowing the typesetting costs to be shared between the two publications. The publishers extended the practice by separately issuing a work on the first two card games, whist and quadrille, again the same type, but the first 106 pages only. 

From the Longman Archive, we know that the publishers printed 4000 copies of Hoyle's Games Improved and 1000 copies each of Companion and Whist and Quadrille. The books were quite profitable: total costs were £325 and the retail price of the books totaled £1475. Hoyle's Games Improved was reprinted in 1826, so we can be sure it sold out. The others were not reprinted, but were not advertised in newspapers after the initial flurry in 1820, and likely sold out as well.

front wrapper bound in

Interestingly, Companion was sold in two different bindings, in boards for 3s. 6d. or in a paper case with gilt edges for 4s. 6d. My copy has been rebound in three-quarter leather, but the original cover with a price of 3s. 6d. is bound in; it was one of the copies sold in boards. A copy at the Bodleian shows that the paper cover was originally pasted onto boards, so the binder of my copy had to do extra work to preserve the paper wrapper.

The last two books I want to talk about were included in a 19c French gaming box. First, the box:

French Gaming Box...
..with scoring markers and books

Inside are four chenille-trimmed baskets with scoring tokens for card games such as Whist or Boston. Two books, both English, fit neatly in the near-right compartment. They must have been added later. Both of the books are unique copies.

two books in wrappers from the gaming box

On the left is Companion to the Whist Table, dated 1835. It is not a Hoyle, but an extract of articles that appeared in Bell's Life in London, a weekly sporting periodical. Bibliographer Frederic Jessel had seen Bell's Life, and noted that the April 1842 issue recommended two books, The Companion to the Whist Table and The Modern Whist-Table. He had never seen either work and no copies are recorded. Jessel wrongly speculated that Companion may be the same as the Charles Jones Companion to the Card Table, discussed above.

Next is a Hoyle, a small (10.2 x 6.5 cm) book in yellow wrappers. The book has an engraved frontispiece dated 1824, but I suspect that the engraving was recycled from an earlier edition from the same publishers. There is an advertisement on the rear cover for a book on swimming that dates to 1827.

Miniature edition of Hoyle, 1827c.

This edition of Hoyle competes at a third price point, 6d., much less than either the Jones or Walker editions discussed above. The publishers appeal to different classes of readers. Again, note the engraving to distinguish this work from other comparable cheap editions then for sale.

It is a treat to have these two books, both "singletons," in original wrappers in remarkable condition. Did I mention how much I like original bindings? How did these two rarities come to be in a French gaming box?

Friday, June 8, 2018

Kicking and Screaming into the 19th Century

I have stated a number of times on this blog that my research would be limited to the 18th century. For example "The proliferation of 19c variants convinces me to stop my research at 1800" from"Bob Short's Short Rules for Short Memories" or "My Hoyle research focuses on the 18th century and so I will stop with the Jones edition of 1800" in "Hoyle's Games Improved, Charles Jones (1800)."

It's been about five years since I first realized how naive that was. As I wrote in "Second Anniversary: Continuities and Disruptions," the Hoyle story continues into the 1860s. I'll not retrace the argument here, but instead, talk about one of the difficulties I am having in moving into the 19th century.

One of the popular 19th century Hoyles was Hoyle Made Familiar, by "Eidrah Trebor" (Robert Hardie), a book first published in 1830. It is both an abridgement of Hoyle, condensing his writing substantially, but also an enlargement--it adds new games not treated in any previous edition of Hoyle (Catch the Ten, Commit, Earl of Coventry, Five and Ten, Lift Smoke, and Snip Snap Snorem).

The book stayed in print through the 1860s. There is an undated "ninth" edition published jointly by Stirling, Kenney, & Co. in Edinburgh and Wm. S. Orr & Co., London. It must have been published no later than 1847 when Stirling & Co. ceased operations. Ward & Lock in London published an undated "eleventh" edition, which was advertised in 1855. The "tenth" edition, published by Orr alone, should be from about 1850.

There are three surviving copies of the "tenth" edition:

Courtesy of the Public Library of
Cincinnati & Hamilton County
Vanderbilt University
USPCC/Clulow Collection

Levy Collection
How very odd! Look at the three imprints:
  • Cincinnati: WILLIAM S. ORR AND CO.
  • Vanderbilt: WM. S. ORR & CO.
  • Levy: WILLIAM S. ORR & CO. 
Two "WILLIAMS" and one "WM." One "AND" and two ampersands. Three different imprints. In the only three surviving copies. This is certainly annoying to a bibliographer. What is going on?

Well, one important fact is that the book was stereotyped. Briefly that means that after the type was set, the printer made a plaster or paper mâché mold of the type. The original printer (or perhaps another) could pour molten metal into the mold to make a new plates from which to reprint the book. The printer could make changes or corrections by cutting or punching out faulty text and soldering new type in its place. The process was much less expensive than resetting type or leaving type standing. (Gaskell 201-4)

The bibliographical concept of edition interacts strangely with stereotyped books. An edition is "all the copies of a book printed at any time (or times) from substantially the same setting of type." So, " if a book is reprinted from an old set of plates, the result is...part of the original edition." (Gaskell 313)

It looks to me as though the fourteen (or so) different versions of Hoyle Made Familiar were all printed from the original set of type. Therefore they are all the same edition.

What do the edition statements on the title page mean? The term edition has been used in the trade not only to mean edition in the bibliographical sense, but what bibliographers would call impression ("all the copies of an edition printed at any one time") or issue ("all the copies of that part of an edition which is identifiable as a consciously planned printed unit" distinct in either form or in time). Gaskell cites an article by J. R. Payne to give a modern example (of electro-, rather than stereotyping):
Methuen ordered two sets of electrotype plates of A. A. Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh, and had twenty-seven impressions printed from them in the period 1926-41. Although all twenty-seven impressions, deriving from a single setting of type, were part of a single edition, the publishers advertised each one as another edition, so that, when a new set of electros was made in 1942 from a new setting of type, what was then issued as the 'twenty-eighth edition' of Winnie -the-Pooh was in fact the first impression of the second edition.Gaskell (314-7)
So the "tenth" edition is not an edition at all, but an impression--multiple impressions, in fact, because of the slight change on the title page. They must have been printed at different points in time.

Payne was able to determine impression and edition because the Methuen Stock Ledgers are at the Lilly Library. So far as I know, no publisher's records survive for Stirling and Kenney or William S. Orr and Co., so I'm not going to be able to sort out these books the way Payne could Winnie-the-Pooh. Oh bother!

Levy collection
Title Page Verso

There is one more mystery in my copy. Pictured at left is the verso of the title page. Note the colophon "THOS. HARRILD, PRINTER..." And if you click to enlarge, you may notice the stub of a removed page in the gutter. This looks to me to be a cancel title. The other two copies have nothing printed below the line "Entered in Stationers Hall". A cancel title generally indicates a different issue as defined above.

Usually when a book is reissued with a cancel title, it's because the publisher has changed. See the discussion of the Polite Gamester in "Every Cancel Tells a Story. Don't It? (part 1)." The reason is that the imprint gives a publisher's address telling people where the book is sold. I've never seen a cancel for the purpose of identifying the printer and can't imagine why anyone would go to the trouble. But that's what seems to be going on here.

I'm left with a very unsatisfied feeling. Fredson Bowers, citing W. W. Greg (two giants of bibliography), notes that a primary responsibility of a bibliographer is to sort out the various editions of a book and their relationship to one another. Within the edition, the bibliographer must be aware of the various issues, states, and variants of all sorts. (page 9).

I don't feel I can meet that responsibility with Hoyle Made Familiar. It's one big edition that stayed in print for three decades via stereotyping. I can see many different title pages with different stated editions (suggesting different impressions), different imprints, and often, as here, different printers (stereotypers), but how all these relate to one another is opaque to me.

I've listed all the variants in my online bibliography (and have more work to do), but don't feel as if I know the story of Hoyle Made Familiar.


  • Fredson Bowers, Principles of Bibliographical Description (Princeton University Press, 1949)
  • Philip Gaskell, A New Introduction to Bibliography (Oxford Clarendon, 1979)
  • R. J. Payne, "Four Children's Books by A. A. Milne" in Studies in Bibliography, 23, 1970, 127-39.