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.

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