A brief note on my forthcoming book on Professor Hoffmann’s card-game booklets . . .

Several months ago, on a different blog, I announced the forthcoming publication of a book by me on Professor Hoffmann’s card-game booklets. I had planned to re-post that post on this blog (which is far more relevant to the topic than the other blog). However, I don’t think I ever followed through on that intention.

The book will probably be published in August or thereabouts.

Now, if you already contacted me in light of that other post, you can disregard this post. Also, if I have been in direct communication with you about that work during the past seven months (this includes David Levy and Mike Goodall), YOU DON’T NEED TO CONTACT ME.

But everybody else:  If there is the remotest chance that you might be interested in purchasing a copy, you should contact me as soon as possible. Otherwise, it is pretty likely that you will NOT have the opportunity of purchasing a copy of the first printing at any time soon, if at all.

I pretty much need to know IN ADVANCE if you might be interested, because I plan to have only a small number of copies printed (of the first printing).

How small? Well, I have heard from maybe about a dozen people. At the moment, it looks like the first printing will be about 32 copies. The minimum order from my printer is 25 copies.  Then I will probably boost that number to  about 32, so that I can tip-in a playing card from a 32-card pack. (But honestly, at this point I doubt that I will tip anything into any copies.)

It’s very difficult to project exactly how many copies I will receive.  On my book Professor Hoffmann and His Conjuring Serials of 1872-1888, I tried to allow for overage. I wanted 52 copies, so that 26 could be lettered, and 26 could be numbered. But I ended up with only 51 copies!

Anyway, I don’t intend to do much marketing on the first printing of the card-game book now under discussion, so it might kind of come and go without much fanfare.

I tried (to some degree) to push the “serials” book just mentioned, and also Angelo J. Lewis of the Chancery Bar, without much success. (Those are not available from me at present, and honestly I am not certain that I will sell any more copies. If I do, it will probably not be this year.)

It may sound a little strange, but given the (lamentably) overall light interest in Goodall card-game booklets, I do not expect more than two or three additional people to express interest. Why do I say interest is light? Well, one reason is that this blog has had 18 or so visitors during the past 19 or so days (including today so far). And on nine of those days, there were ZERO visitors.

Now, you might say, “Well, if you are going to have 32 copies of the first printing, and if you have only received a showing of interest from about a dozen people, I can take my sweet time about letting you know, and I will still be able to order, even after the book appears! So, chill!”

But that isn’t necessarily the way things will play out.  Like I will need two copies for copyright-deposit, and I’ll probably give away copies to wife, daughter, and a few other relatives or friends.  But the worst part for those who do not let me know in advance is that there will probably be a pretty short window during which I will accept orders this year, regardless of how many copies I have left. And yes, I may sell more at another time in the future, but I don’t like to fill “straggler orders.”

If you check this blog frequently, you may find some kind of marketing taking place after I receive copies, and I suppose you probably will.  But I suspect that few people check this blog at frequent intervals.

Anyway, if you might be interested, please send me an email at the following address, and just say something simple, like, “I might be interested in the book.”


Following is an image of a small stack of my remaining copies of Angelo J. Lewis of the Chancery Bar. It’s a decent-sized book of 114 pages.  I think I have sold about 20 copies. It was overpriced, though. It is debatable as to whether I should have published it!


Below are shown the 26 lettered copies of Professor Hoffmann and His Conjuring Serials of 1872-1888.  That is a nice, long book of 204 pages, including many images in color. As I indicated above, there are also 25 numbered copies. The lettered copies have a leaf from Every Boy’s Annual tipped in. Here, too, I suppose it is debatable as to whether I should have published it!


Both of the foregoing printings were softcover — to my regret, because both were worthy of something better, but it would have been far too costly to justify that.

The book on Hoffmann’s card-game booklets will probably also be softcover.

—Tom Sawyer

March 17, 2017

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Comments on an early Chas. Goodall & Son “Patience” set . . .

I suspect that Chas. Goodall & Son did not issue any patience sets until at least 1900, when the first edition of Professor Hoffmann’s Patience Games was published. (See illustration below.) However, I am not aware of any Goodall patience-set issued that early.  But I suppose it is likely that a set was issued quite soon after the appearance of the 1900 booklet.

By the way, note the superiority of the foregoing scan to the following earlier scan of the same booklet, which I included in an earlier post.

Anyhow, another edition of that work (the only other one I know of) was dated 1902.

But, as though to confuse matters, a second-series booklet appeared in 1901. I discussed the confusing nomenclature regarding these booklets in another post.

Now, my impression is that Goodall patience sets appear on eBay with a fair degree of frequency.  Right now I see four or five sets that appear to me to be from the pre-1922 era, but it appears that none of those I see at the moment have a booklet included. There appear to be several from the 1930s or so that have Selected Patience Games booklets that may or may not mention Goodall, but those are obviously from the De La Rue/Goodall era, and probably were issued by Wills.  I did not study any of the listings, nor did I undertake a serious search, so don’t rely on the foregoing, since I am just trying to convey a general picture.

Anyway, the earliest Goodall patience set I have seen is pictured below.  The first scan shows the open box, which was designed to hold two packs of cards, which could be slid in and out of the opening toward the bottom of the scan when the little flap (at the very bottom) was opened. The green fabric on the interior would demonstrate that the booklet shown later indeed accompanied the box originally. The booklet was Patience Games (Second Series), 1901, by Professor Hoffmann.

Note:  In the following scan, the box and the front of the booklet are included in the same scan, so this scan correctly indicates the relative sizes of the booklet and the box.  The lid of the box is not much bigger than the booklet. The box, in other words, is quite small, and the playing cards were of the dinky size often seen in patience sets.

I am not showing the cards that were part of the set when I obtained it, because they were manufactured by an American firm, and are highly unlikely to have accompanied the set when it was issued. (But I would not stake my life on that.)

Of interest in the foregoing image of the front cover is the lower-right corner, which seems to show that the cover was not applied over the normal printed front-cover, but was affixed to an unprinted surface. (The fabric is turned back a little there.)

Below is shown the inside front-cover and the title page:

—Tom Sawyer

March 17, 2017

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Revisiting my earliest Goodall booklet and set, namely a two-pack Bezique set from 1868 or thereabouts . . .

I discussed my earliest Goodall set (a two-pack Bezique set) in an earlier post, in 2010. The scans for that post were really quite poor.  I have a different scanner now, which easily produces much better scans than the earlier scanner did. I decided to do this new post regarding that same set. In a sense, this is a revised version of that earlier post, but it is overall quite different.

Based on Frederic Jessel’s 1905 bibliography, it appears that the earliest rule-booklets issued by Goodall were a booklet on Bezique, first published in 1868, and a booklet on Check, published in 1869. In his main book on the Goodall firm, Mike Goodall reproduces two covers of the Bezique booklet (a second edition and a sixth edition), and a cover of the Check booklet (not sure which edition, if there were multiple editions).

Back in 2012, I ran a post based on a January 1869 article entitled “Bezique,” which ran in The Westminster Chess Club Papers. David Levy had kindly provided me with images of the article, which is well worth reading for anyone studying early booklets on Bezique. As I noted in the 2012 post, the article says:

The first book of rules brought out here in a separate form was “The Royal Game of Bezique ‘Standard Rules’ as played by His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh,” (Goodall and Son) now in its third edition.

Since the article appeared in the January 1869 issue, this makes it highly likely that the third edition appeared in 1868, and all but certain that the second edition appeared in 1868.

As to the frequency of appearance of early editions in the marketplace these days, I have never seen a copy of the first edition, and I have never heard of a copy being offered for sale (or even of any in existence anywhere). Regarding the second edition, I have at least three copies (including the larger-format version discussed a few posts back), and I believe I have seen another copy (on eBay). I think I know of a few others in other collections, as well.

Below are new scans.  These are far superior to the earlier ones I posted, and they cover more aspects of the set. The first scan is mainly to show the relative sizes of the items.  The rest of the scans are largely NOT TO SCALE. That is, you cannot necessarily discern the relative sizes of the items based on those images.

Patience Games set 3 10 17 9

Patience Games set 3 10 17

Patience Games set 3 10 17 2

Patience Games set 3 10 17 5 copya

Patience Games set 3 10 17 7

Patience Games set 3 10 17 6

Patience Games set 3 10 17 8

Patience Games set 3 10 17 3

Patience Games set 3 10 17 4

Of interest in the playing-cards shown are the “unturned” Queen of Diamonds and Queen of Spades (pips in upper-right corners), the earlier-style Ace of Spades (vastly different from the “nested pips” version discussed a few posts back), and the square corners, as well as, of course, the absence of indices.

—Tom Sawyer

March 14, 2017

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How did Frederic Jessel arrange his bibliography?

How did Frederic Jessel arrange his bibliography?

It’s a question I have not really thought much about in the past, and I suppose it is not a question of prime importance, since the book does have a certain flow to it which makes it easy to use without conscious analysis of its method of organization.

But recently I looked at parts of the book (on the Hathi Trust Digital Library) in an effort to discern Jessel’s method. After all, it appears that he does not expressly state his method anywhere, so I suppose that the best one can do is to look at what he did, and work backwards from that.

I am sure that there are some nuances and complexities that I am not addressing here, but I will try to hit the highlights.

The fundamental overarching sequence is alphabetical, by the author’s last name. Where a work is anonymous, the title is inserted alphabetically among the names. Where a work was written under a pseudonym, the author’s real name is used. Thus, books by Cavendish are listed under “Jones, Henry.” But if the real name was unknown, the work might be listed under the pseudonym (e.g., Kid), or under the title (e.g., two books by “An Adept,” probably by different authors). Translations are listed under the author’s name.

The difficulties arise when one looks at authors with many works represented. Professor Hoffmann’s books represent a fairly complicated, yet fairly clear group of books. They are listed (that is, the ones relevant to the area covered by Jessel) according to year of first publication, but all editions of a book are considered together, in chronological order. A major exception to the general method is that all of Hoffmann’s rule booklets are treated in a separate sequence.

Hoffmann’s contributions to periodicals (well, one periodical) are treated under the periodical’s title (which is listed in the grand alphabetical sequence). His translations are found under the names of the authors (Hertefeld and Robert-Houdin).

The foregoing method (regarding Hoffmann) is not necessarily followed punctiliously as to all authors. If you look at the listings for Lowis Jackson D’Aguilar, there are so many revised editions and combined volumes and so forth, that the listing appears rather jumbled, and though overall it seems to follow an organized arrangement, I seemed to find exceptions. Not only that, as to D’AGuilar, it seemed as though an effort was made to deal with all works on a game before moving to the next work.

As to Cavendish, the method seemed to be something like a combination of the Hoffmann arrangement and the Jackson arrangement.

I have a feeling that in many cases Jessel applied a certain amount of subjectivity in determining the exact place for the listing of a work.

There are a few other little possible anomalies that I noticed, and maybe sometime I will go into them, but the foregoing probably covers the basic arrangement.

—Tom Sawyer

March 13, 2017

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What is the best way to organize a bibliography of card-game booklets?

What is the best way to organize a bibliography of card-game booklets?

This is just a rhetorical question, and I don’t want to impose on anyone by asking for any real answers, but I’ll set forth a few of my own views. Then, in a future post, I hope to describe generally the manner in which Frederic Jessel arranged his bibliography, and his arrangement is not something that is particularly easy to discern!

I’ll start out by saying that the two methods which seem most appropriate to me for a bibliography of works on card-game booklets would be:

a. By title. This would not necessarily work well, though, in part because some works by the same author appeared under more than one title (with, occasionally, cover titles that differ from title-page titles), or may have had revised editions that resulted in (a) significantly different books, (b) different titles, or (c) both. Possibly even worse, it is foreseeable that many booklets by several different authors will have the same or similar titles.

b. Chronologically, with each basic work considered in its own group.  Putting it another way: chronologically, according to date of first appearance, and then according to chronology for all editions of that title. Thus, if you were taking about Professor Hoffmann’s conjuring books, the first title would be Modern Magic.  All editions of that book would be listed chronologically through the 1870s, 1880s, 1890s, and so forth. Then after all those, one would list the editions of Card Tricks Without Sleight of Hand (first edition, [1877]). This, too, is an imperfect way of proceeding.

So, actually, neither of these methods is very good, at least in the absence of thorough indexing, and of course even the most comprehensive indexing will not cancel-out the problems.

While the chronological method works pretty well (especially when dealing mainly with one, or maybe two or three, authors), and also gives an idea of the progression of an author’s work, it, too, falls apart when one starts looking at significantly revised works (example:  Hoffmann’s Bridge Whist, which evolved into Bridge), combined works, works of significantly varying character (example: Jessel shows the earliest edition of one of Cavendish’s works being a card), piracies, possible weird items of perhaps little significance, and so on.

And whether one is following the “title” method or the “chronology” method, it would appear to me that one would need to cover foreign editions separately, and then there would be more than one way of segregating the foreign editions.

Another category of works, which could include both domestic and foreign works, is that of translations. Of course, one way of dealing with such works would be to omit them from consideration.

Actually, I think that it is impossible to state a best arrangement until one knows pretty closely what is going to be included in the bibliography.

For my forthcoming book on Professor Hoffmann’s card-game booklets, I think I will deal with them chronologically (or pretty much chronologically, because I do not believe that I will be dealing with dating more specific that the year). That is, for instance, there were four Hoffmann booklets published in 1895.  I will probably deal with those four in alphabetical order, rather than worry about the nuances of their exact sequence of publication during 1895.

And I expect to cover (to some extent!) mainly the early editions, which are not numerous, so it should be convenient to deal with one title (including multiple editions regardless of the span of dates) before going on to the next.

The foregoing is not intended as a comprehensive analysis of the situation!

—Tom Sawyer

March 12, 2017

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The three formats of “The Royal Game of Bezique” as published by Charles Goodall & Son . . .

Below is a scan showing the three formats of The Royal Game of Bezique as published by Charles Goodall & Son. The largest is a rather interesting early printing. This is apparently a two-toned variation of the large-format version listed in Mike Goodall’s recent book on Goodall booklet-covers.

As discussed in some detail elsewhere in this blog, it seems likely that the “second edition” was published in 1868.  It appears that no one has made note of the existence of a first edition, and its nature appears to be unknown.

By “format,” I am speaking of the height and width. There were at least three (yes, three) other cover-designs completely different from those shown below.

The two large-format versions below have similar, if not identical text. I suspect that all other printings have text that is quite different from those.

Selected Patience Games SPG 030817 folded tp 1923 5

I hope to write more about The Royal Game of Bezique in the future.

—Tom Sawyer

March 8, 2017

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Charles Goodall & Son’s “Marlborough” cabinet of games . . .

On page 50 of Mike Goodall’s year-2000 book Charles Goodall & Son: The Family and the Firm 1820-1922 is a little image of Goodall’s “Marlborough” cabinet (from a catalog or advertisement). It is designated as “The ‘Marlborough’ and ‘Blenheim,'” which leads me to believe that there were two cabinets with some significant (but not immediately obvious) variation between them.

The Marlborough is also seen in an article in Geyer’s Stationer for July 16, 1903, page 12. The article is called “Chas. Goodall & Sons United Stated Agency,” and it mentions the firm of F.L. Schafuss as agent of Goodall in the United States and Mexico. The article is more like an advertisement for Goodall products.  Here is the part that deals with the Marlborough.  The first four lines deal with a different set; only the final paragraph deals with the Marlborough:


My own set plainly differs from that, both in the arrangement of the cabinet and the contents.  Additionally, my set is not complete, though I am not certain precisely what it is missing.  At a minimum, I think it is missing several packs of cards, and also something that would have fit within the lid, and also one of the pencils. It’s understandable that my set would be different, since it is probably circa 1920, while the discussion reproduced above is from 1903. My set does include a Whist booklet, but I think it is safe to say that Whist’s popularity was more on the wane when mine was issued.

Below are scans of most of the components that are present.

The first scan shows the front of the cabinet, as well as two of the five booklets that were included.  (I showed all five in a different post, long ago.) The two booklets are shown above to demonstrate the relative size of the box.  Shown also is the key that came with my set, and I have no particular reason to believe that it is not the original key, though I have not tried it, and the set is presently in an unlocked state.


The lid raises up, and the front folds down, as shown in the black-and-white image above.  The inside of the lid has a large opening, with tabs to hold something (I do not know what) in place. When the front is folded down, the near left-hand corner says “THE ‘MARLBOROUGH,'” and the near right-hand corner says “C.G. & S., LONDON.”

Here is the back, and you can see the hinges.early-goodall-3-3-17-14Here is one side:


Here is the bottom, which appears to be covered with some colored, textured, coated paper or the like:


Next are two tablets, each with a pencil “pouch” attached.  One of the pencils is missing.  The pencil that is present is “The Scholastic,” from the Eagle Pencil Co.  I am pretty certain that it is a pencil that came with the set, mainly because its length and diameter work extremely well.


Next are three of the packs of cards that were in the set.  These are all unopened, but you can see most of the beautiful, ornate design, which includes gold-colored printing (which appears brownish below).  Probably there should be a fourth pack of the same design, and a few other packs as well.  The packs shown are rather “short” stacks, and are presumably 32-card packs, for Bezique and other games that require packs of 32 cards.

Since the set also included booklets relating to Whist and Bridge (one of which is shown above), there were probably multiple 52-card packs as well.


The description from 1903 refers to a total of eight packs: “two packs of playing cards” (probably meaning Whist packs), as well as four Bezique packs and two Piquet packs. According to Camden: In two-handed Bezique, two packs are used; three-handed requires three packs, and four-handed requires four. According to Hoffmann: Piquet, a two-handed game, requires one pack, but two packs are normally used, in alternating fashion.)

The top two are markers for Bezique (and Rubicon Bezique); one front is shown and one back. There are four such markers in all.  The ones shown are red and green, and the other two are black.

The third marker portrayed below is a Whist marker, and in the set are a total of two such markers.



—Tom Sawyer

March 6, 2017

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