Monday, October 24, 2011

Schools for Whist?

Hoyle was a tutor at whist before writing his Short Treatise on the game and instruction in gaming became a target of satire. One of the most extraordinary examples is a 1752 pamphlet called A Preface Designed...for the Polite Gamester, 1752. It is excessively rare--only a single copy survives at the Dublin City Library and Archive as part of the J. T. Gilbert Collection

Reproduced with permission of
the Dublin City Library and Archive
(click to enlarge)

Although no printing location is given, the pamphlet was clearly written in Dublin. The book is styled a preface to The Polite Gamester, which as we have seen, was the Dublin title for Hoyle's treatises. Further, the note "To the Printer" is signed "Jeff Humbugg, Bardin's Chocolate House, May 8, 1752". Peter Bardin, an actor, established a Chocolate House in Fowne's Court, Dublin—it was converted into a post office in 1755. (Gilbert, as in the J. T. Gilbert Collection, Vol. II, pp. 320-1)

Two competing Dublin editions of The Polite Gamester had appeared in February 1752 (ESTC N22882 and N24780), perhaps prompting this preface. The story of those books and the competition between them will have to wait for another time.

The book begins with the pseudonymous Humbugg lauding Hoyle:
His book, though small in size, is yet weighty as to its contents and was the produce of a long series of practice and close application (p. 8)
Then he complains about the difficulty of portions of the text:
At first sight, and to the young beginner, or mere novice he will appear a little difficult. I remember myself, and I honestly declare it, that at first dipping into him, I did not enter into the true spirit and meaning of many passages. (pp. 8-9)
More importantly, Humbugg, argues, the reading must be supplemented with expensive experience, by which he means expensive losses at gaming. The solution is ingenious, consisting of two strands. The first is:
"To have a number of schools erected at the public charge, in the several cities and large towns of this kingdom; where, under the direction of experienced, and able masters, the several games may be taught (p. 10-11)
The more amusing suggestion is that:
...the youth of both sexes [be] made perfect by going through a complete course of experiments; in the performance of which they shall play only with the public money; and thus the people of lower rank, will have an opportunity of sending their children that they may learn to game with reason and judgment. (p. 11)
Gaming with public money? I'll leave it to the reader to make twenty-first century analogies with sub-prime lending.

The Humbugg piece is the first satire I have seen suggesting schools for gaming, but others followed. The periodical The Connoisseur included a quite similar piece in the issue of March 20, 1755:

The education of females is at present happily elevated far above the ordinary employments of domestic œconomy; and if any school is wanted for the improvement of young ladies, I may venture to say, it should be a school for whist. Mr. Hoyle used, indeed, to wait on ladies of quality at their own houses to give them lectures in this science: but as that learned master has left off teaching, they can have no instructions but from his incomparable treatise; and this, I am afraid, is so abstruse, and abounding with technical terms, that even those among the quality, who are tolerably well grounded in the Science, are scarce able to unravel the perplexity of has cases, which are many of them as intricate as the hardest proposition in Euclid. A school for whist would, therefore, be of excellent use; where young ladies of quality might be gradually instructed in the various branches of lurching, renouncing, finessing winning the ten-ace, and getting the odd trick, in the same manner as common misses are taught to write, read, and work at their needle.

Another periodical, The World, included the following letter on May 20, 1756:
When [my son] had finished his studies at the university, and perfected himself in town in all the necessary accomplishments of a young man of fashion, I sent him under the direction of a very excellent tutor, on his travels through France, Italy and Germany; from which, after an absence of four years, he returned last winter, improved beyond my utmost hopes. 
But, alas, sir! when I expected to see him the admiration of all companies, and to have been ever where congratulated on the happiness of having such a son, I found, from the universal attention to cards, that his acquirements were totally unnoticed, and that all the cost and trouble I had been at in his education, answered no other purpose than to make him company for himself, and a few unfashionable friends who have no commerce with the world.
If this insatiable passion continues, it were as well if our public schools and universities were abolished, and that travel and all other means of acquiring knowledge and refinement were at once prohibited; and in their places, other seminaries erected in this metropolis, and proper masters appointed, to instruct our children in the rudiments of brag, cribbage and lansquenet, till they were of a proper age to study whist, and the other games of skill, at the academy of Mr. Hoyle.
Yes, gaming was quite the rage in Dublin and London, with Hoyle was seen as the cornerstone to education.


J. T. Gilbert, A History of the City of Dublin, Dublin: McGlashan and Gill, 1859.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

What's in a Name?

What do you call a book? Generally, this is straightforward—take a look at the title page. However, many of the editions and issues of Hoyle were published without an overall title page, causing problems both for rare book catalogers and for bibliographers. The problems will be highlighted in this essay. The springboard for the discussion is a series of essays I have written--on the Hoyle collections, on the first published edition of Hoyle's works in 1748, and on its four reissues from 1748 to 1755.

First the collections. I have demonstrated that Osborne issued collections of Hoyle from 1745-7 and argued that Cogan likely did as well from 1743-4. These collections are not cataloged as such in libraries or ESTC because there is no overall title page, merely titles for the individual treatises on whist, quadrille, piquet, and backgammon. So, if one looks up Whist.6 in ESTC, the holdings will include all copies of the individual treatise as well as copies where it appears as a collection, that is, in a publisher's binding with other treatises. ESTC will also include copies where it appears with other treatises in a customer binding.

Sometimes the library shelf mark will reveal the nature of the book. For example, the Bodleian Library has a copy of Whist.6 with shelf mark Jessel f.544(1). The parenthetical "one" indicates that Whist.6 is the first title in a volume containing multiple books. Jessel f.544(2) is Obsorne's reissue of Cogan's Quadrille, and so on. Other times, the library will provide copy-specific notes. The Beinecke Library at Yale has a copy of Whist.6 and they note that the book is bound with Quadrille, Piquet and Backgammon. While the shelf marks and notes tell that the books are bound together, there is no clue as to whether the books were issued as such by the publisher or bound by the customer. On the other hand, ESTC shows a University of Texas copy, shelf mark, GV1277.H89 1746, and only by checking their online catalogue do we learn that it is also bound with Backgammon of 1745. Whether Quadrille and Piquet are included, I don't yet know.

The early Dublin collections are less problematic because they were issue with a collected title page, The Polite Gamester, and are so cataloged in ESTC and elsewhere. 

A different sort of problem appears with the first collected edition of Hoyle and its four reissues. For convenience, I'll repeat the five books:

[Aside: I am deliberately distinguishing between the terms "collection" and "collected edition." I am using "collection" for a reissue of books in a publisher's binding which were also issued separately. An "edition" requires a new setting of type as was the case with Osborne.1748 where the treatises were not issued individually.]

These books are quite awkward to name and hence to catalogue. Osborne.1748 is problematic because there is no overall title page. There are fortunately strong hints that the book is a single collected edition and not a collection of separate works. First is an overall half title, Mr. Hoyle's Treatises, although the half title may not survive in any particular copy. Second, the pagination and signatures are relatively continuous, suggesting it was printed as a unit. In fact ESTC catalogs it using the half title.

Absent those clues, it would be easy to imagine the book cataloged as four separate books, particularly since the imprint and date appear only on the section titles and not on the half title. Indeed  ESTC also lists an "eighth" edition of whist as ESTC T79889, cataloging the book as though it were a collection. I've seen one of the two copies listed there and it includes all the treatises and the half title--perhaps the cataloger was not used to identifying the book from the half title. I'll have to check on the other copy, but I suspect that this is a ghost entry in ESTC and the holdings should be merged into Osborne.1748, a book catalogued as Mr. Hoyle's Treatises based on the half title.

Reeve.1748 and Reeve.1750 are clearer, because they have the overall title page The Accurate Gamester's Companion. Both books are cataloged under that title, even though a number of copies also have the Osborne half title.

The problem returns with Osborne.1750. I have a copy with the same half-title used in Osborne.1748. Unfortunately most copies lack the half title and the ESTC catalogers did not call the book Mr. Hoyle's Treatises, as they did for Osborne.1748. The book is identified by the section title for whist and the title is given as the "tenth" edition of A Short Treatise on the Game of Whist, printed for T. Osborne, 1750. Fortunately ESTC notes that it includes the other treatises. I do think this should be called Mr. Hoyle's Treatises.

Similar is Both.1755 where none of the copies I have seen has an overall half title or title page. As with Osborne.1750, ESTC catalogs the book based on the section title for whist, noting the presence of the other treatises. Here I see no good option. It was jointly sold by Osborne and Reeve, and calling it either Mr. Hoyle's Treatises or The Accurate Gamester's Companion is misleading. Equally misleading, however, is the current practice of calling the book a "tenth" edition of Whist, ignoring the fact that it always appears with Quadrille, Piquet, and Backgammon.Why didn't Osborne add a real title page?

On a separate note, I want to mention three other London Hoyle's listed in ESTC during the time period 1748-55:
  • ESTC T87538 is catalogued as a "tenth" edition of Whist published without the other treatises. I've seen one of the two listed copies and discussed it earlier. It is really a copy of Whist.7 (1747) with the title page replaced by the section title of Whist used for Osborne.1750. Presumably Osborne had some unsold copies of Whist.7 which he spruced up with a 1750 title page to make them salable—making this a reissue of Whist.7
  • ESTC N46285: Looking at the ESTC entry, I cannot distinguish it from Reeve.1750, but I haven't seen either of the two listed copies. 
  • ESTC T224799: This is a piracy of the Whist section from Osborne.1748. Only a single copy survives at the British Library. There is no record of any litigation. It is an octavo, rather than a duodecimo, as were the authorized Hoyles, and the book is not autographed by Hoyle or Osborne.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Reissues of Mr. Hoyle's Treatises (1748-1755)

With the release of Mr. Hoyle's Treatises in 1748, Osborne began to sell Hoyle's works only as a single volume and not as individual treatises (as I discuss here). The book was reissued several times over the next few years until a new edition appeared in late 1756. Osborne reissued the book himself and apparently entered into a relationship with another bookseller, William Reeve, to distribute it. This seems to be the only venture between the two booksellers. While no documentation of the distribution arrangement survives, we can infer much about it from the physical books and newspaper advertisements.

For clarity, I am going to refer to the various books as follows:
Osborne.1748 collates 12o: [A]2 B-D12 E6 F-L12. The preliminaries consist of: A1r, the half title from which I derive the name of the book; A1v advertisement for another Osborne publication,  The Life of Adam; A2r section title for the "eighth" edition of whist; and A2v "To the Reader" with the autograph signature of Hoyle. All of the reissues share the same setting of type for gatherings B through L, which makes them reissues rather than editions as a matter of definition. As we shall see, the preliminaries vary.

Osborne advertised Osborne.1748 in various London newspapers from March 5, 1748 until April 30, 1748. Osborne's advertisements do not overlap with Reeve's, which appeared from November 21, 1748 to March 9, 1749. Here is a sample Reeve advertisement from The General Advertiser:

(click to enlarge)

The text is subtly different from Osborne's advertisements earlier in the year. The advertised title is still Mr. Hoyle's Games Complete, but speaks of a "ninth," rather than "eighth" edition. The book is "printed for T. Osborne, and sold by W. Reeve" at Reeve's shop, with no location given for Osborne. The advertisement does not offer the Laws of Whist. Despite the differences, Reeve.1748 is still an authorized edition as is apparent from the promise of Hoyle's autograph.

(click to enlarge)

The physical book has a different title altogether, The Accurate Gamester's Companion, reminiscent both of the predecessors to Hoyle—The Compleat Gamester and The Court Gamester—and the Dublin reprint of Hoyle, The Polite Gamester. The title page, printed in red and black and pictured at right is quite charming.

The book is, however, a reissue of Osborne.1748 and not a separate edition. Different copies have slightly different preliminaries, but Reeve had a new bifolium (a folded sheet of two leaves or four pages) printed. The first leaf has a blank recto and a verso with advertisements for others of his books. The recto of the second leaf is the red and black title page, with a blank verso. One copy (NvLN [GV1243 H69 1748]) inserts the bifolium in place of the Osborne half title and advertisement, while another (L [58.b.18]) retains the half title, but wraps the Reeve advertisement around so that it appears as the fourth leaf. In either configuration, the book has the peculiar property that the new title page says it is a "ninth" edition of whist, while the section title for whist says it is an "eighth" edition.

In his bibliography, Jessel wrote of this book, "It would appear that Osborne sold his remainder to W. Reeve, who issued it as a ninth edition." That may be correct—it is interesting that Osborne ceased advertising his version of the book while Reeve's was for sale. On the other hand, the relationship between Reeve and Osborne continued with more reissues.

The October 21, 1749 issue of the Whitehall Evening Post or London Intelligencer  carried an advertisement for a "tenth" edition of Mr. Hoyle's Games Compleat printed for "T. Osborne, in Gray's-Inn; and W. Reeve, at Shakespear's Head, near Serjeant's Inn-Gate, in Fleet-street." By giving the locations of both booksellers, the advertisement suggests that both were selling it. Indeed two more versions appeared, again with the same setting of type as Osborne.1748, but with new preliminaries.

Osborne.1750, retains the half title "Mr. Hoyle's Treatises" but has a new leaf A2, pictured below. The recto is a new section title for whist, a "tenth" edition dated 1750. The version is a "To the Reader" now signed both by Hoyle and Osborne. The Reeve version, Reeve.1750, maintains the bifolium from the Reeve.1748, but, adds the pictured leaf so that both booksellers are offering a "tenth" edition.
Section Title for Whist
"Tenth" edition
(click to enlarge)
To the Reader
signed by Hoyle and Osborne
(click to enlarge)

 The joint advertisements continued until December 31, 1750. Reeve continued to advertise his issue separately into 1751. In 1755, a final reissue appears. This has neither Osborne's half title "Mr. Hoyle's Treatises" nor Reeve's title "The Accurate Gamester's Companion." It begins with a new section title for whist, still a "tenth" edition, but now with the imprint "London: printed for T. Osborne, at Gray’s-Inn; and sold by W. Reeve, in Fleet-Street, 1755." With this book, the long series of reissues ends; Osborne publishes a new edition, a new setting of type, in 1756.

This has been an awkward set of books to sort out. In the next essay, I will discuss some of the issues I have glossed over here.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Fans of Hoyle

Obviously my passion is for printed books, but my interest in Hoyle can lead in strange directions. One example is this nineteenth century token used for scoring at whist. The image was used on the cover of the issue of Script and Print that included my article on the Hoyle piracies.

(click to enlarge)

I recently found a couple of Hoyle items that are even more unusual. Pictured below is a lady's fan. Be sure to click for a larger photograph, as I've loaded high resolution images that you'll find rewarding!

(click to enlarge)

(click to enlarge)
As you can see in the detail at right, it is titled The Games of Whist, Quadrille, Lansquenet and Quinze agreeable to the late Improvement on Hoyle. &cc. Hoyle??? Well, as much as I have studied Hoyle, I had no inkling that such things existed!

This fan and another pictured below are now part of my collection. I have spent many years learning about printed books, but am a novice when it comes to fans. It turns out that under a 1735 law, English printed fans must bear the date of issue and the name of the publisher (de Vere Green, p76). Indeed this fan was published by T. B. on January 6, 1791. The mount is engraved and colored by hand, while the sticks are sandalwood.

It will be an interesting project to determine how much of the text, which I've only just started to study, is Hoyle's. Hoyle never wrote on Lansquenet or Qunize, and those portions seem to be abridged from Hoyle's Games Improved, edited by Charles Jones (1775), discussed in an earlier essay.

The sections on whist are a bit harder to track down. The text on the fan begins, "Begin with your strong suit. Sequences are always eligible leads." Is this a paraphrase of Hoyle who wrote in 1742 "When you lead, begin with the best suit in your hand; if you have a sequence of king, queen and knave, or queen, knave and ten, they are sure leads..."? (A Short Treatise on Whist, p.11)

Perhaps the text was taken from William Payne, who wrote Maxims on the Game of Whist: (1773), borrowing liberally from Hoyle:
1. Begin with the suit of which you have most in number...2. If you hold equal numbers in different suits, begin with the strongest...3. Sequences are always eligible leads. (pp.1-2).
This sounds better. Certainly the use of "eligible" is suggestive. As noted earlier, Payne's text was incorporated into Hoyle's Games Improved in 1779. All of the whist texts are so similar that it will be difficult, I think, to identify a source definitively.

The text on Piquet begins "To gain the point generally makes 10 points difference, therefore when you discard you must endeavor to gain it, but not risk the losing of the cards." This comes from A Short Treatise on Piquet (1744) where Hoyle wrote "To gain the point, generally makes ten points difference; therefore when you discard you must endeavor to gain it, but not risk the losing of the cards by so doing." (pp.4-5) But for Hoyle, this is his fifth general rule for piquet while the fan ignores Hoyle's first four rules.

The fan is an example of the aide mémoire, "a particular class of fan which relies for its embellishment on the printing of information of a practical kind upon its mounts." These included cartographic, historic, and botanical subjects, as well as "words and music of songs, the rules and scoring for a game of cards, directions for the figures of country dances..." and so on. (de Vere Green, p.88).

The  second fan has the same text, but the engraving is of a lesser quality. The sticks are lacquered in black and gold. No date or publisher appears, but as de Vere Green notes, the required information was almost always printed on the lower part of the mount and is often trimmed when pasted on the sticks. (p. 75). Or, I wonder suspiciously, was piracy as much a problem for fan makers as it was for booksellers?

(click to enlarge)


Bertha de Vere Green, Fans Over the Ages, A Collector's Guide. South Brunswick and New York: A. S. Barnes and Company, 1979.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Mr. Hoyle's Treatises (1748)

The Osborne offering of Hoyle's writing changed dramatically on Monday, March 7, 1748. For context, here is the list of Osborne Hoyles available in 1745-7:
As is clear from Osborne's advertising that the customer had the option of buying individual treatises for a shilling each or as a bound collection for five shillings. (See the notes below, for fuller references to earlier editions). Osborne indicated a new approach with an advertisement in the Whitehall Evening Post or London Intelligencer on Saturday, March 5, 1748:

(click to enlarge)

Half title (1748)
(click to enlarge)
Individual treatises were no longer available—Osborne advertised only Mr. Hoyle's Games Compleat for the reduced price of 3s. In fact, the half title (pictured at left) for the volume read Mr. Hoyle's Treatises, rather the advertised title. Osborne continued to offer the Laws of Whist for 6d., rather than the 1s. he had asked previously. Hoyle's autograph was clearly still attractive to customers. Even though there had been no piracies since 1743, Osborne still warns against copies not autographed by Hoyle.

(click to enlarge)
The advertisement promised "thirteen new cases never before published at whist." Hoyle had new material on whist for the first time since An Artificial Memory in late 1744 (which Osborne had included in the treatise on whist, rather than as a separate title).

There are a number of oddities in the physical book, although it appears to have been printed more or less as a whole. The collation formula suggests continuous printing: 12o: [A]2 B-D12 E6 F-L12. The pagination is a bit odd. There are four unnumbered pages (A1 recto: half title, A1 verso: Osborne advertisement for another book, A2 recto: section title for Whist, A2 verso" "To the Reader" autographed by Hoyle), followed by Whist on pages 1-84 (gatherings B through E). Quadrille begins in gathering F with three unnumbered pages followed by pages numbered from 100. The gap in numbering between Whist and Quadrille is strange—from that point, the book is numbered normally.

The section titles, too, are curious. Whist is given as the "eighth" edition, Quadrille the "second", Piquet and Backgammon both the "third". One would expect Quadrille to be a "third" edition as well—Osborne had already published a second edition and this was a new setting of type. I had noted earlier that Osborne really should have called his 1745 Backgammon a second edition, and here Osborne called Backgammon a "third" as though the 1745 edition really were a second. In reality, however, this is the first edition of Mr. Hoyle's Treatises, and the designations for the sections are bibliographically meaningless as they were not published separately.

The imprint "Printed for Thomas Osborne" appears on all but one of the section titles. The previous Osborne editions were all printed for T. Osborne; J. Hildyard at York; M. Bryson at Newcastle; and J. Leake at Bath. It appears that Osborne terminated the distribution arrangement with Bryson and Leake; Hildyard's name continues to appear on the advertisement, though not in the imprint. 

It is Quadrille that has the odd section title. It still shows the old imprint with Osborne and the three distributors. It is the only one of the section titles to have a price, one shilling, suggesting a plan to sell it alone. There is at least one copy where Quadrille has page numbers 4-24 after the three unnumbered pages, followed by page 121-124! Sometimes the first gathering is signed as A and sometimes as F and often with a mixture of the two! Despite these variations, it is clear that the there is only one setting of type for the text of Quadrille.

I am uncertain why Quadrille is so strange while the rest of the book is so regular and can only speculate about what happened. Perhaps Quadrille was initially planned as an individual treatise. Perhaps it was typeset from a copy of the second edition, and the compositor began with gathering A and page 1, changing them to F and 100, when it became clear how the book was to be issued. Perhaps the gap in page numbers between Whist and Quadrille was because the printer was waiting for the new cases on whist and didn't know how many pages would be required. Perhaps the type was saved and reprinted at another time—typically the pages would be saved, but the lines with page numbers and signature marks would not be, and thus might vary between impressions. I don't know that we'll ever be able to explain the makeup of this book with certainty.

This is the first London edition of Hoyle to be issued with a collected title page. As we shall see in a future essay, this edition remains in print until late 1756, although it was reissued a number of times with various titles pages.


I have written extensively the early publishing history of Hoyle in a number of essays:

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Were there Cogan collections of Hoyle?

Previously, we have looked at collections of Hoyle issued by Osborne and the Ewings in publisher's bindings. That these are separate issues is evidenced by contemporary newspaper advertisements and, in some Ewing copies, a collected title page. The collateral evidence is supported by clues in the books themselves.

Did Cogan issue collections of Hoyle? Nearly all of the surviving copies are individual treatises; none are common. Let us review the later individual treatises briefly:
  • Whist.4: The fourth edition, 1743 (advertised June 29, 1743)
  • Whist.5: The fifth edition, 1744 (not specifically advertised)
    • Memory: 1744 (advertised November 17, 1743)
    • Piquet: 1744 (advertised January 12, 1744)
    • Quadrille: 1744 (advertised October 13, 1744) 
    There are a handful of books that contain multiple Cogan editions bound together: three at the Bodleian Library, one at the Lilly Library at Indiana University, plus one or two others. Might any of these have been issued by Cogan in a publisher's binding? There are no newspaper advertisements suggesting that Cogan issued Hoyle as a collection, nor is there a collected title page in any of the surviving copies. We are left only with the evidence of the books themselves—and some information about how they came to be acquired.

    Two of the Bodleian volumes are from the Jessel collection, shelf marks Jessel f.580 and Jessel f.543. Jessel was a great collector of gaming literature and one if its most important bibliographers. Jessel purchased f.580 at the Sotheby's sale of the library of Colonel Lowsley1 on April 9, 1906. The catalogue description of lot 483 reads:
    Hoyle (E.) A Short Treatise of the Game of Quadrille, 1744; A Short Treatise of the Game of Piquet, 1744, FIRST EDITIONS, signed by the author; A Short Treatise on the Game of Back-Gammon, FIRST EDITION, 1743, a few headlines shaved, old calf in 1 vol.
    The description omits Whist.5 and Memory, which, as we shall see, must also have been present.

    Jessel attended the auction, buying some lots for himself and others through dealers. He annotated his copy of the auction catalogue (Bodleian Library, shelf mark Jessel e.1293) indicating the purchaser and price of each lot, and kept a list of all items that he purchased. His notes indicate that the bookseller Dobell purchased lot 483 for 6s, but Dobell must have been acting for Jessel, who's list of items bought includes lot 483:
    Hoyle. Quadrille. 1744
    --Whist 5th ed. 1744
    --Artificial memory. 1744
    Jessel includes Whist.5 and Memory, omitting Piquet and Backgammon, which, as we shall see, were of less interest to him. I believe that this lot is shelf mark f.580 because it is the only of the Bodleian copies in which Quadrille appeared first. Jessel has additional notes on the fly leaf of the f.580 itself:
    Containing Quadrille first edition, whist fifth edition (The only other copy known to be in existence is in the British Museum), An Artificial memory, first edition (the only copy recorded.) [All to be catalogued separately.] (duplicate) copies of Piquet and Backgammon, both first edition."
    The stricken text is Jessel's and echoes what happened to the book—he did something quite tragic and out of character. Jessel removed the first three treatises from the volume and had them bound individually in library bindings. Apparently when he acquired this book, he did not yet have these three treatises and wished to have them in separate bindings. Quadrille is now shelf mark Jessel f.583, Whist.5 Jessel f.542, and Memory Jessel f.586. Piquet and Backgammon, which he already owned, remain in the original binding, with the front board and the much of the spine flapping free where the other treatises had been. What a shame!

    Of these books, Whist is not autographed and the autograph from Quadrille does not look like Hoyle's signature. Compare the signature from Jessel f.583 (reproduced from ECCO) at left with a more typical signature at right.

    questionable Hoyle autograph
    Quadrille Jessel f.583
    typical Hoyle autograph

    A year later, Jessel purchased f.543, with the treatises appearing in the order Whist.5, Memory, Quadrille, Piquet, and Backgammon. Having seen the earlier volume, Jessel seems much more aware of what this book was. He wrote in it:
    These treatises are apparently in a contemporary binding and appear to me to have been issued bound together by F. Cogan. The Treatise on Whist is the only signed copy if the fifth edition known to be in existence. My separate copy and that in the British Museum, the only other copies recorded, are both unsigned. I have another copy of 'The Artificial Memory'; as far as I know, there are no others in existence. March, 1907
    Of course his "separate copy" of Whist.5 and other copy of Memory were those he removed from the first book, a book which is as likely to have been issued by Cogan as this book. One wonders whether, in writing this note, Jessel regretted what he had done to the other volume.

    The third Bodleian copy, shelf mark 12 Theta 1318, is not part of the Jessel collection, and appears to have been acquired much later. Its composition is the same as the previous book, with Piquet and Quadrille reversed. All treatises are autographed by Hoyle. It bears an undated note in a mid-20th century hand "Bot from Blackwell £2.2.0.”

    It seems probable that all three volumes were, as Jessel suggests about one of them, "issued bound together by F. Cogan."  The binding of all three books is similar: boards decorated with a double fillet, six spine compartments with a label in the second (except for F.580 which had been rebacked). They would have been issued sometime after October 1744 when the last of the books, Quadrille, was published.

    There is another candidate at the Lilly Library, shelf mark GV 1277 .h89 1743. It consists of Whist.4, Memory, Backgammon, and Piquet, all in a contemporary calf binding resembling the three from the Bodleian. Curiously, none of the treatises is autographed by Hoyle.

    An early (the earliest?) Cogan collection
    (click to enlarge)
    These four books make me wonder about a book in my collection. I have a copy of Whist.4 bound with Memory and Backgammon, all treatises signed. It is a contemporary binding quite similar to those discussed above (see picture at left). All have six panels on the spine, a label, and similar tooling. Could this be a Cogan collection as well? If so, it likely predates the January 1744 publication of Piquet.

    There is one other candidate that may be even earlier. The Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas has Whist.4 bound with Backgammon, shelf mark GV 1277 H98 1743c GTE. Both treatises are autographed by Hoyle. Interestingly, the book has a fore-edge painting showing playing cards, which may be the reason that the binding is not original. I don't think we'll ever know whether the treatises were originally sold in a Cogan publisher's binding, perhaps earlier in 1743 when only Whist.4 and Backgammon were available, or bound together later. 

    The similarity of the contemporary bindings convinces me that the at least five Cogan collections of Hoyle survive. With the evidence about the Harry Ransom copy equivocal, I like to think of mine as the earliest collection of Hoyle.

    1Col. Barzillai Lowsley was a minor author and serious collector of gaming books and books related to Berkshire, England. He wrote Whist of the Future, London: Sonnenschein (1898).

    My copy, presented by the author to Lord Sherborne, is pictured above.

    Monday, October 3, 2011

    Toward a bibliography of books published by Francis Cogan, bookseller (part 2)

    (updated October 7, 2012 with a correction from a reader about the publication history of A Proposal Humbly Offer'd)

    In the previous essay, I discussed Francis Cogan's frequent use of fictitious imprints and trade publishers at a time when his career was beset by financial problems. This essay discusses the problem of identifying books which Cogan published but did not have his name on the imprint. I used a number of strategies to look for them: Stationers' records, printer's records, bookseller trade sales and contemporary newspaper advertisements. I will discuss each in turn.

    One step in protecting a copyright is to enter a book in the register of the Stationers Company. Perhaps Cogan registered some books that he published without his name? In Cogan's case, however, the Stationers' records are of little help. Cogan's name appears in the register as the owner of two books only, both by Hoyle—the treatises on Backgammon and Piquet. In both cases, Hoyle was listed as a joint owner of the copyright and the books bear Cogan's imprint. 

    The business records of a small number of 18th century printers survive. One of these is Bowyer ledger, reproduced and analyzed by Keith Maslen and John Lancaster (see References). In those records, we find that Bowyer did some printing for Cogan, and some of those books do not have a Cogan imprint. One example is A Proposal Humbly Offer’d to the P-----t, for the More Effectual Preventing the Further Growth of Popery, Dublin printed. London, re-printed for J. Roberts in Warwick-Lane, 1731. Dublin versions can be found here and here. J. Roberts is one of the trade publishers identified by Treadwell. The Bowyer ledgers show the book to have been printed for Coggan and Worrall. [Aside: Cogan's name was originally spelled Coggan; Thomas Worrall and Cogan were both apprenticed to bookseller Robert Gosling.] The Bowyer ledgers similarly identify another five Cogan books.

    Bookseller trade sales are, as the name suggests, sales of books and copyrights open only to members of the London book trade. When beset with financial difficulties, Cogan sold some of his copyrights at a sale on September 10, 1745. The sale was largely unsuccessful and after his bankruptcy, there was a second sale on July 10, 1746 to raise money for his creditors. That second sale lists more than 60 copyrights owned by Cogan, though the short titles in the sale catalogue can be maddeningly difficult to identify.

    Let us consider some examples. The 1746 catalogue indicates Cogan owned a full share of a book listed as Expediency of One Man's Dying. In this case, it was  atypically easy to identify the book as a book as ESTC T11784, The Expediency of One Man’s Dying to Save a Nation from Perishing, by C. Thurloe (1742) . From ESTC, we find the imprint of the book is "printed for T. Cooper," one of the trade publishers identified by Treadwell.

    The catalogue also has an entry Hanover Heroes, a pamphlet by the Reverend Mr. Miller.  This is presumably ESTC  T106595, a 17 page folio called The H-r heroes: Or, A song of triumph. In laud of the immortal conduct, and marvellous exploits of those choise spirits...By a H--N--R--N. ESTC gives the author as James Miller, though I don't know the basis for their attribution. Ironically, the imprint is "London: Printed for W. Webb, near St. Paul’s, [1744]." So, after Cogan and Hoyle were pirated under the false imprint W. Webb, we find Cogan using the same imprint a year later!

    Less clear is the listing of a half share for Seventeen Hundred Forty-one, a Poem. Could this be ESTC T83796, a book titled Seventeen hundred forty-two. Being a review of the conduct of the new ministry the last year, with regard to foreign affairs, also printed for T. Cooper, 1743? Not having seen the book, it's not clear to me that the ESTC title is a poem, but I could find no closer match. I share this example to show the difficulty in matching up the more than sixty abbreviated titles in Cogan's trade sale catalogue with the ESTC. Despite the difficulty, I feel I have identified nearly all of the trade sale descriptions, though some of the identifications are speculative.

    Another way to attribute books to Cogan is through contemporary advertisements in newspapers or books. For example, Cogan offered The Universal Librarian and An Account of the Princes of Wales in the May 31, 1751 issue of The General Advertiser. Both books are "printed for" Francis Cogan. The advertisement continues:
    where also may be had, An Account of the Baptism, Life, Death, and Funereal of the most Incomparable Prince Frederick-Henry, Prince of Wales. By Sir Charles Cornwallis, Knt. His Highness's Treasure.
    That title was easy to find in ESTC, but there it bears the imprint "printed for J. Freeman." Freeman is a fictitious name, one Cogan also used in publishing a work by Eliza Haywood, also identified from the trade sale catalogues. What is it about the book thats would dissuade Cogan from using his name?

    All in all, I have identified more than 180 books that Cogan published or sold. I'm happy to share the list and the reasons for my attributions with any scholar who wishes to take the work further. What I'm really curious about is why Cogan so frequently disguised his identity, particularly late in his career when he was in financial difficulties. Was he taking on more "dangerous" books? Someone would have to read all the books and understand how the books would have been perceived in contemporary London. That is a job for someone else—I have much more work to do on Hoyle!


    Keith Maslen and John Lancaster, The Bowyer Ledgers: the printing accounts of William Bowyer, father and son, reproduced on microfiche; with a checklist of Bowyer printing 1699-1777, a commentary, indexes and appendixes. London: The Bibliographical Society, 1991.