Monday, November 21, 2011

Hoyle's Games Improved, Charles Jones (1800)

updated May 5, 2013, having located a copy of the separately published Treatise on Game Cocks

I have written about the Charles Jones editions of Hoyle a number of times. The booksellers who had owned the recently-expired Hoyle copyright brought out the first Charles Jones edition in 1775, followed  by a much more important edition in 1779. The work stayed in print until 1826, adding sections on various games with each new edition—it was the dominant edition of Hoyle for fifty years. This essay focuses on the edition of 1800, not because it is itself a particularly interesting work, but because it is the first for which the publishers' business records survive. The records tell an interesting story about the economics of bookselling in London at the turn of the 19th century. 
First, a short digression: There was a the third edition in 1786 and a fourth in 1790. The latter is the most collectible of all the Jones Hoyles as it is the first to mention the game of "goff or golf," "the favourite summer amusement in Scotland." (p288) The book is one of the earliest listed in Donovan & Murdoch, the standard bibliography of golfing literature. There are serious book collectors in the golfing world and the 1790 Jones edition of Hoyle commands a substantial premium over any of the others.

Copisarow copy
(click to enlarge)

At left is the title page for the 1796 fifth edition, bearing the imprint "printed for R. Baldwin,  B. Law, C. Dilly, T. Payne, W. Lowndes, James Scatcherd, E. Newbery, S. Bladon, G. and T. Wilkie, W. Miller and W. Stewart," a group of eleven booksellers.


Copisarow copy
(click to enlarge)

The title page for the sixth edition of 1800, pictured at right, shows the addition of some new games: Vingt et un, Reversis, Put, All Fours, Speculation, and an essay on Game Cocks. It also has a somewhat different imprint—Law, Dilly, Bladon and Miller have disappeared from the 1796 edition. Bedwell Law died in 1798; Samuel Bladon in 1799. Charles Dilly retired leaving Joseph Mawman as his successor. (See the British Book Trade Index)

Likely, Miller sold his interest to another bookseller, perhaps at one of the trade sales I have discussed earlier. The new names in 1800 were the firm of Longman and Rees, J. Lee, T. Hurst and J. Mawman.

It is the addition of the Longman firm that makes the book worthy of discussion. Business records for the Longman firm survive and were published on microfilm by Chadwyck-Healey, with a printed index (see here for one library's description of the archive). The archive tells a great deal about the 1800 publication. To appreciate the information in the archive, it is helpful to see the collation formula for the book: 12o: A2 B-O12 P10. This means that the book was printed as a duodecimo, that is with twelves leaves to each sheet of paper. Gatherings B through O make thirteen sheets (as is typical, there is no gathering J) and the short gatherings A and P were likely printed on a single sheet, the fourteenth.

The entry in the archive is dated May 15, 1800 and begins:
Hoyle's Game by Jones 12o No 3000
Treatise on Game Cocks 12o No 500
Thus, Longman et al printed 3000 copies of the Hoyle and 500 of the treatise on cock-fighting. A single copy of the treatise on game cocks survives at the British Library, printed for Baldwin, Payne, et al, in 1800. When one of the publishers, Wilkie, left the trade, his stock was sold at a trade sale on February 24, 1814. At that sale his 75 copies of the Treatise on Game Cocks went unsold, representing, as we shall see, more than half of the books he was allocated in 1800. The treatise must have been a poor seller.

The entry goes on to list expenses in printing the book, expenses which would be shared among the booksellers in proportion to their share of the copyright. The biggest expense was for paper, just over 70£. The Hoyle would have required 42,000 sheets (3000 copies at 14 sheets each). The section on game cocks in Hoyle was 24 pages or 12 leaves, so perhaps the separately published work was 500 copies of one duodecimo sheet. The printer charged 2£ 4s. per sheet for typesetting, a total of 30£ 16s. for the 14 sheets, plus an additional 2£ 17s. for tables, fractions, etc., as they required extra composition. The fact that the printer charged for fourteen sheets confirms that there was no additional typesetting for Game Cocks—that treatise must have been a separate issue of the section from Hoyle.

There were further charges for the engraved plate of billiards,  pictured here from the 1779 edition and for woodcuts of a backgammon and a draughts board. There were charges for meetings at "Coffee House," presumably for food and drink when the publishers met. Lastly, although I have not located any advertisements for the book, advertising charges exceeded 20£. If there are costs associated with binding the books, I cannot discern them from the archive—perhaps each bookseller had his own copies bound. Total charges were 137£ 10s.

The Hoyle sold for 4s., so the entire print run retailed for 600£. The treatise on Game Cocks may have sold for a shilling or two, adding another 25 or 50£ to the income had it been successful. The Hoyle, however, was a success—the 3000 copies must have sold out quickly as a new edition appeared in 1803. Of course this P&L omits the money the booksellers would have had to pay for the copyright. I don't have information about any transactions in the copyright near 1800, but in 1778, Thomas Lowndes paid 1£ 15s. for a 1/72 interest in the Jones edition of Hoyle, making the copyright worth £126 at the time. (British Library, Addison ms 38370 f. 13) Although it must have been worth more in 1800, publishing Hoyle was certainly a profitable enterprise for the booksellers! 

Most interesting is data giving the allocation of books to each member of the consortium. From this, we can calculate the ownership of each bookseller.

booksellerHoylesGame Cocksownership
Longman & Co.250421/12

It is remarkable that shares as small as one part in 144 were traded among the booksellers. Note also that the order of the booksellers on the imprint seems to bear no relationship the size of their ownership interest or the order in which they acquired their shares.

My Hoyle research focuses on the 18th century and so I will stop with the Jones edition of 1800. For those who want to carry on into the 19th century, Longman & Co. continued to be involved in another half dozen editions of the Charles Jones Hoyle through 1826. Comparable business records survive and provide a fascinating look into the economics of the London book trade.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Doctrine of Chances (1754)

(updated November 17, 2011, February 21, 2013)

In his treatises on whist, backgammon, piquet, quadrille, and brag, Hoyle had briefly discussed the mathematical aspects of each game. He provided a somewhat fuller treatment of probability in a 1754 work—An Essay towards making the Doctrine of Chances easy to those who understand Vulgar Arithmetick only. The book, a minor footnote in the histories of both gaming and mathematics, has quite an odd publishing history.

The title recalls a much more important work on probability by Abraham De Moivre, The Doctrine of Chances: or, a Method of Calculating the Probability of Events in Play (1718) with subsequent editions in 1738 and 1756, the last of which is freely available here.

In his landmark history of probability, Isaac Todhunter devotes nearly 70 pages to De Moivre's work and a scant two paragraphs to Hoyle's:
Some works on Games of Chance are ascribed to Hoyle in Watt's Bibliotheca Britannica. I have seen only one of them which is entitled: An Essay towards making the Doctrine of Chances easy to those who understand Vulgar Arithmetick only: to which is added, some useful tables on annuities for lives &c. &c. &c. By Mr Hoyle... It is not dated; but the date 1754 is given in Watt's Bibliotheca Britannica.
The work is in small octavo size, with large type. The title, preface, and dedication occupy VIII pages, and the text itself occupies 73 pages. Pages 1-62 contain rules, without demonstration, for calculating chances in certain games; and the remainder is devoted to tables of annuities, and to Halley's Breslau table of life, with a brief explanation of the latter. I have not tested the rules. (Todhunter p322)
Where De Moivre used games to advance the mathematical theory of probably, Hoyle used probability to provide rules of thumbs for gamesters—Hoyle's Chances lacks mathematical importance.

The publishing history of the Chances should be viewed in light of the unsuccessful publication of the treatise on Brag by John Jolliffe (1751), discussed here. Like Brag, the book was sold by subscription as is evident from a series of notices in the Public Advertiser:
Next month will be published, By Subscription, at Half a Guinea, The Doctrine of Chances made easy to those who understand Vulgar Arithmetick only. By Mr. Hoyle. Subscriptions taken in by the Author, and Mr. Jolliffe, in St. James's street. (Public Advertiser, January 23, 1754)
Beginning in late February and continuing into March, the same advertisement was published with the heading "Speedily will be published" and finally on June 16 it was announced as "This Day is publish'd."

The imprint of the book is curious, particularly in comparison with Brag. In 1751, Brag appeared with the imprint "printed for and sold by J. Jolliffe, bookseller." The words "printed for" suggest that Jolliffe was the publisher and had paid Hoyle for the copyright. In contrast, Chances is "sold by J. Jolliff (sic)" suggesting that Jolliffe was only a distributor. The book was not entered into the register at Stationers Hall, so we don't have that evidence as to the owner of the copyright, but it is likely that Hoyle retained the copyright—perhaps Jolliffe was unwilling to purchase it because of the poor sales of Brag.

Chances sold for half a guinea, and, like Brag, it did not sell well initially. From 1748 to1755 Thomas Osborne (and William Reeve) were selling various issues of Mr. Hoyle's Treatises (discussed here), followed by Osborne's "eleventh" edition in 1755 and "twelfth" in 1760. Just as Osborne began to advertise the "twelfth" edition, he began to promote two other books:
Tuesday next will be published, Dedicated to the Right Hon. the Earl of Northumberland, Price 3s. 6d. sewed in Marble Paper, An Essay towards making the Game of Chess easily learned, by those who know the Moves only, without the Assistance of a Mater. By Mr. Hoyle, Printed for T. Osborne, in Gray's Inn; R. Baldwin, at the Rose, and S. Crowder, at the Looking-Glass, in Pater-noster Row. 
Of whom may be had, Price 2s. 6d. sewed, Mr. Hoyle's Essay towards making the Doctrine of Chances easy to those who understand Vulgar Aritmetic only. To which are added, some useful Tables on Annuities for Lives, &c &c.
No Copies of these Books are genuine, but those that are signed by the Author. (Public Advertiser, December 24, 1760)
We'll save the disccusion of Chess for another time, and focus on Chances. This Osborne version is not listed in ESTC and but a single copy survives at the Bodleian Library, shelf mark Jessel e.647(1). An examination of the book reveals that it is a reissue of the 1754 edition with a cancel title page. Again, the imprint is odd: "London: Sold by T. Osborne [and others]." It seems that Hoyle had unsold copies of the book, terminated the arrangement with Jolliffe and hired Osborne as a new distributor, selling the book at a much lower price to coincide with the new work on Chess. It is also interesting that the verso of the cancel title has an erratum, noting that "in page 57, line 2, read for doing it instead of against doing it." Chess, by the way, has the imprint "printed for Thomas Osborne [and others]" suggesting that Osborne owned the rights.

It was only the 1760 reissue that sparked the Irish reprinters.George and Alexander Ewing reprinted the work in 1761, also incorporating it into The Polite Gamester.

(click to enlarge)

In 1764, Osborne reprinted the Doctrine of Chances, pictured at left and freely available for download here. Here the imprint suggests that Osborne and Baldwin owned the copyright: "Printed for T. Osborne, in Gray's-Inn, and R. Baldwin, at the Rose in Pater-noster Row." Note, by the way, the small piece of drab paper affixed to the title page. This is a remnant of the original paper wrapper for the book.

The autographs, pictured below, provide further evidence that Osborne and Baldwin owned the copyright. The title page notes "No copies of this book are genuine, but those that are signed by the proprietors on the back of this title"  Hoyle did not autograph the verso in any copy of this edition I have seen—only the signatures of Osborne and Baldwin appear. Osborne and Baldwin must have been the proprietors and Hoyle's contract with Osborne to sign his early works (see my "Pirates, Autographs, and a Bankruptcy" p144) did not apply to Chances.

(click to enlarge)

We are left with this list of separately published editions of The Doctrine of Chances:
  •   Chances.1: London: Sold by J. Jolliffe (1754) 
    • Chances.1.1: London: Sold by Osborne, Crowder, and Baldwin (1760), a reissue of Chances.1
  • Chances.2: Dublin: Printed for the Ewings (1761)
  • Chances.3: London: Printed for Osborne and Baldwin (1764)
  • Isaac Todhunter. A History of the Mathematical Theory of Probability from the Time of Pascal to that of Laplace. Cambridge and London: McMillan and Co. 1865. Reprinted New York: Chelsea Publishing Company. 1949.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Short Treatise on the Game of Brag (1751)

(updated February 26, 2012 as I have located additional copies)

In 1748, Hoyle added "thirteen new cases never before published" to the section on whist in Mr. Hoyle's Treatises. Those few pages were his first new writing since 1744. As I discussed in a recent essay, booksellers Thomas Osborne and William Reeve reissued Mr. Hoyle's Treatises under various titles a number of times from 1748 to 1755.

Hoyle's next writing was an entirely new work, A Short Treatise on the Game of Brag, in 1751. The game of brag most resembles three-card poker, but with betting rules that look strange to a modern player. Interestingly, the treatise on brag was never incorporated into the any of the London collections of Hoyle's works. There is every reason to believe that it was an unsuccessful effort for the publisher.

Hoyle entered A Short Treatise on the Game of Brag in the register of books at Stationers Hall on January 18, 1750/1, listing himself as the sole copyright holder. On January 22, 1750/1, an announcement appeared in the General Advertiser:
This day is published, A Treatise on Bragg by Mr. Hoyle. To which is added the laws of the game, with some calculations. Sold by J. Jolliffe, Bookseller, next door to White's Chocolate House in St. James's Street, at the same place may be had, neatly printed to frame, The Laws on Bragg separate, Price 2s. 5d. Where subscribers may have their books on sending their receipts. The books and laws are sign'd by the author, and whoever pyrates or sells any pyratical edition will be prosecuted, they being enter'd in the Hall Books.
There are many points of interest. First, Hoyle has found a new publisher, John Jolliffe. Recall that Hoyle originally contracted with Francis Cogan to publish all of his early works. Cogan also paid Hoyle to autograph each copy (see my Pirates, Autographs, and a Bankruptcy, p144). Cogan, nearing bankruptcy, sold the rights to Thomas Osborne in 1745. I find it striking that Hoyle chose not to work with Osborne on Brag, but found a new publisher. No evidence survives detailing the financial arrangement between Hoyle and Jolliffe. Second, as the advertisement makes clear, Jolliffe was familiar with the publishing history of whist. As Cogan and Osborne had done with Whist, Jolliffe published the laws of brag separately, secured Hoyle's signature on the books and the laws, and warned against piracy. Third, Jolliffe sold the book by subscription, with customers paying in advance for the book. There certainly must be pre-publication advertisements offering the book, although I have not found any.

There are two reasons to believe that the subscription price was half a guinea, that is, 10s. 6d. First is an advertisement for the Irish reprint of Brag that I shall discuss below. Second, in 1754, Jolliffe sold another Hoyle treatise, An Essay on the Doctrine of Chances, by subscription for half a guinea. That work will be discussed in a subsequent essay.

A month later, Jolliffe had a briefer advertisement offering the treatise for 2s. 6d. and the laws for 1s. (Whitehall Evening Post or London Intelligencer, February 28) If the treatise sold by subscription for half a guinea, the new price was a substantial reduction. Jolliffe dropped the price of the laws from 2s. 6d. to 1s. Likely neither sold well. No further London editions of Brag were published and few copies survive today. No copies of the laws survive—perhaps they were destroyed unsold, as were hundreds of copies of the Osborne laws of whist.

Bookseller John Exshaw quickly reprinted Brag in Dublin. He advertised in the Dublin Courant of March 2, 1750/1 :

(click to enlarge)

Thursday next will be publish'd by John  Exshaw, price 4d. A Short Treatise on the Game of Brag: containing the laws of the game, also calculations, shewing the odds of winning or losing certain hands dealt.
N. B. The price of the London edition is half a guinea. 

It is the Exshaw advertisement that suggests that Brag sold for half a guinea by subscription, although it ignores the fact that Jolliffe lowered the price to 2s. 6d. by late February.

Like its London counterpart, the Exshaw edition is scarce, with copies at the Dublin City Libraries and UNLV in addition to mine. A copy at the British Library was destroyed in World War Two. The UNLV copy is bound with a 1752 of The Polite Gamester printed for Peter Wilson and I suspect that an examination of more copies of the Gamester will show that they contain the brag treatise as well. Updated February 26, 2012: I have been in touch with other libraries holding a copy of the Wilson's 1752 Polite Gamester. It turns out that the Cleveland Public Library and the University of Strathclyde (Glasgow) also have copies containing the treatise on Brag.

Neither the game of brag, nor Hoyle's book were especially popular. Indeed no other books have been published on the game, although many gaming anthologies discuss it briefly. It remains Hoyle's most obscure work.