More on Zetema and its booklet, and “beggars can’t be choosers” . . .

I have not been posting much here lately, but I have done a moderate amount of card-game work behind the scenes, largely in connection with many great images that David Levy has communicated to me.

I’ll undoubtedly discuss a lot of that in the future.

In this post, I want to return to Walter Pelham (or William Taunton), whom I have discussed quite a bit in other posts (largely thanks to Mike Goodall).

One of my operating premises is that Pelham designed the cover of Rules and Directions for Playing the New & Fashionable Game of Zetema, as published by Joseph Hunt & Sons. A reproduction of the cover of that booklet is shown in another post.

Recently I acquired (from no1swimmer, on eBay) a copy of a Hunt booklet on Bezique, with a similar cover. (I’m sure I will talk about that soon.)

This caused me to check into the Zetema situation , and I see that a beautiful Zetema set had appeared on eBay — “when,” I do not know.

Here is a link to the WorthPoint information on the set: Link.

One problem: The listing indicates that the booklet is not complete. I cannot figure out exactly what it is missing.  The images imply (to me) that the back cover is missing. The listing indicates that “the back page of the rules” isn’t there. But the images seem to show advertisements that one might assume are on the final page of the interior of the booklet. In either case, this would be considered a huge defect in the booklet.

But my assumption has always been that the Zetema booklet is a rarity, and as they say, beggars can’t be choosers!

—Tom Sawyer

June 14, 2018

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So, why didn’t I deal with 2012 and 2018 in my previous post?

I now have a listing on eBay through which I am offering (for sale at a fixed price) copies of my bibliography of Professor Hoffmann’s card game booklets. I published that last year.  The first printing was quite small. You should be able to find the listing if you use search terms like Sawyer bibliography Hoffmann.

So, why didn’t I deal with 2012 and 2018 in my previous post?

It couldn’t be because those years kind of ran contrary to the evidence of the five years shown, could it?

Sorry, that’s not the way I roll.

I didn’t deal with 2018, because we are not even halfway into it.

I left out 2012 for no particular reason.

Here are the top posts from those years from my WordPress Stats page:

Top two posts for 2012:

Top two posts for 2018:

Note:  The scarcity and rarity post was posted in 2014, so it does not appear for 2012 or 2013.

—Tom “That’s Not the Way I Roll” Sawyer

May 19, 2017

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Looking at some stats from prior years . . . also, my 2017 bibliography is again available for purchase on eBay . . .

I now have a listing on eBay through which I am offering (for sale at a fixed price) copies of my bibliography of Professor Hoffmann’s card game booklets. I published that last year.  The first printing was quite small. You should be able to find the listing if you use search terms like Sawyer bibliography Hoffmann.

This blog has now been running a long time, something over seven years.

In looking at some stats that are available to me (on my stats page on WordPress), I have occasionally been struck by the constancy of interest in some posts, and non-interest in others.

Here are lists of the top five posts, based on “views,” from 2013 through 2017, from my Stats page. As I have said before, these stats can be misleading, but overall they probably present a fairly accurate picture.

You can ignore the posts at position five in each list. There are two posts (both dealing with Camden’s Bezique booklet) that were in the top four posts ALL FIVE YEARS! The TOP POST in four of the five years was a post on scarcity and rarity.

If you ignore the problem of different editions, the Bezique booklet is probably the most common. It probably appears on eBay more than any others.  I suspect that the high ranking is because of sellers doing research on the items they are listing.   : (

—Tom Sawyer

May 19, 2018



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(Non-Goodall.) An isolated post about the discussion on the Erdnase thread of the Genii forum . . .

I recently took down my S.W. Erdnase blog (for the time being), so this blog may have to tolerate occasional posts on the S.W. Erdnase situation! I didn’t really want to say anything about this, but it has kinda been bugging me, and nobody has said anything about it on the Erdnase thread of the Genii forum.

On the Erdnase thread, Richard Hatch tactfully asked for clarification of certain statements that had been made by Scott Lane. Hatch said, in part (link):

If MFA [Milton Franklin Andrews] had nothing to do with the [Erdnase] book, then they [certain specified things] don’t seem to help and would fall in the category of unrelated coincidences. Ditto any association with the author of the Wizard of Oz.

That may not make a lot of sense to those not following the Erdnase thread, but you probably get the drift.

Lane replied on the thread as follows (link), as to the second sentence quoted above:

It seems like you [i.e., Hatch] have drawn a conclusion, within your question, prior to me having a chance to respond to your question and present my rationale. That is the definition of research bias. I do believe that even the smallest “smidgen” of research bias can derail any research project.

I find this to be insulting to Hatch, and more than a little condescending. (Notice, too, there is no statement of any “rationale.”)

And what was the “conclusion” that was spposedly drawn? I have no idea, unless it was the obvious one that there is no immediately evident role that L. Frank Baum played in connection with The Expert at the Card Table. But I don’t consider that a conclusion as such. It is more in the nature of a fundamental fact that has yet to be refuted.

Hatch is one of the top two or three people in the world in terms of knowledge and understanding of the whole Erdnase-authorship case, and many would say he is THE top person, period.

I myself never have had, and never will have, anything near Hatch’s knowledge of the Erdnase-authorship facts, or his understanding and command of the whole area.

Hatch has shown a greater amount of genuine fair-minded interest in even some of the weaker “Erdnase cases” than I ever have, and to the best of my knowledge there is no one in the field who is less apt than Hatch to draw unsupported conclusions about any candidate or about any argument for or against any candidate.

What I don’t “get” is why “I” have to be the one to go on record with this!

Woe is me for caving in and posting on this — but for some reason no one else has. I feel a little sorry for myself, because I have been trying to distance myself formally from everything having to do with Erdnase!

I have plenty of problems with Lane’s facts and arguments (which are voluminous and in more-or-less constant flux), but it would take me far more time to develop my claims than I care to spend at this time. After all, one of the main reasons I have dumped my Erdnase blog (for the time being) is that it has been siphoning off too much of my time.

It might not be a bad idea for Lane to develop and refine his case for his candidate, and maybe do a little condensing and synthesizing, rather than repeatedly inviting questions and then criticizing someone who has asked for clarification in just about as kind and roundabout a way as can be imagined.

As may be obvious, Hatch is a friend of mine.

I will say this: I almost never publicly take anyone to task on anything relating to Erdnase. I figure life is too short to bicker with others on a topic that is supposed to be a fun hobby. I have tried to keep my remarks above temperate and tame. The only other time I have censured anyone in an Erdnase context (as far as I can recall) was when someone took potshots at another friend of mine (Hurt McDermott), who had passed away and was unable to speak on his own behalf.

I probably will not leave this post up permanently, by the way—so sooner or later it may just disappear.

—Tom Sawyer

January 19, 2018

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A further communique from David Levy regarding Frederic Jessel . . .

If there exists a fixed point that lends dignity and significance to the collecting of card-game booklets published by Goodall, and if that fixed point can be represented by a specific person, I suspect that such a person is Frederic Jessel.

Of course, Jessel’s time was long ago, and that raises an interesting question. If he were alive today, what kinds of contributions to the bibliographical literature of card games would he be making today? Would he operate a blog? Would he be contributing to this blog?

I suppose we will never know. But it seems clear that Jessel will always be the pioneer in the collecting of card-game booklets in general, and Goodall booklets in particular. For that reason it is a bit of a disappointment that so little is generally known about him.

Recently I received from David Levy further information relating to Jessel’s bibliography.

In a post not long ago, I said that, “I would speculate (but it is easy to be wrong when speculating on such things) that [Jessel’s] bibliography didn’t sell like hotcakes when it was first issued.”

David indicates that this assertion “seems to be true.”

By way of backing this up, David sent me some highly interesting information, based on microfilm of the publisher’s archives. By way of background, David quoted as follows from one of the posts on his Hoyle blog: “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).”

David states (in an email to me): “It’s hard to read the ledger (the original microfilm is somewhat better than the PDF), but it seems that 504 copies were printed in 1905. Copies were periodically sent to NY (the imprint is London, NY, and Bombay) and the ledger shows copies on hand at various intervals for a few years: ‘395 left June 1, 1907’ for example.”

David was kind enough to send me a PDF of one of the ledger pages (the one dealing with the Jessel bibliography). David is certainly right about it being difficult to read. In addition to the 1907 date and quantity quoted by David, the ledger appears to show 397 copies on hand as of June 1, 1906. The suggestion is thus that 2 copies were sold during the period June 1, 1906, through June 1, 1907. The totals of books on hand appear to be in addition to 18 copies available in New York.

Some of it I cannot really interpret, but overall, it looks as though a fair number were shipped to New York shortly after printing, perhaps 61 copies. It looks as though one copy was sold to a purchaser in India.

I may have a few details wrong, but the basic picture is that there was an initial flurry of sales during the first year, and after that, almost nothing during the second year.

David, thank you for the information!

—Tom Sawyer

January 11, 2018

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More of Goodall’s “Time’s Footsteps,” this time for 1881 . . .

Below are scans of portions of another one of the Goodall calendars in the “Time’s Footsteps” series. This one takes the form of a little booklet (about the size of a Bridge playing-card). The front and back covers are light card-stock (of one piece). The interior is on lighter paper-stock and consists of eight pages.

I assume that there is a version of this distributed in England, but this one has content customized for distribution in the United States. For example, you can see in one of the images that the “Value of Foreign Money” (now of course far out of date) converts values into dollars and cents. I hope to get into that further in the future.

The calendar itself (not shown here) is on the inside front-cover.

Here are the front and back covers (back on the left, front on the right).


Below are pages [2] and [3].

Scan 1.jpeg

Below are pages [4] and [5].

Scan 2.jpeg

—Tom Sawyer

January 5, 2017

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The Jessel “errata slip” (based on help from David Levy) . . .

A while back, I saw a reference to a copy of the Jessel bibliography with an errata slip. I spent a moderate amount of time trying to find out exactly what this might be. In particular, I entertained the idea that Jessel might have published an extended list of errors in Notes and Queries (which might have been repeated on a slip), but I did not find anything along those lines.

But an inquiry to David Levy brought from him an image of a Jessel errata slip found in a copy of the book in his collection (cropped and lightened version shown here):

Screen Shot 2018-01-03 at 3.56.01 PM copy.jpg

I was a bit disappointed that the thing was so . . . brief, and also that it basically involved merely a couple of numbering errors.

Without getting into details here, from what David told me, the foregoing corrections were made at some time during the first printing, assuming that there was only one printing.

Much more tantalizing was David’s statement that the copies of Jessel at the Bodleian Library have “hundreds and hundreds of corrections.” David further states that the Hoyle section has “many dozens”! Now that was all quite surprising to me, and I suspect that few are aware of any of this.

In another communication, David states that the Bodleian possesses “a huge manuscript ledger volume that [Jessel] used to compile the bibliography, but continued to update throughout his life.”

This was complete news to me.

It all suddenly depicts a bibliography that could have been noticeably better than it already was. (It is no secret that I consider Jessel an outstanding bibliography.) I suspect that the updating of the ledger, and the corrections, were inspired to some extent by a desire to issue a corrected and enlarged edition, and I would speculate (but it is easy to be wrong when speculating on such things) that the bibliography didn’t sell like hotcakes when it was first issued.

Jessel does say, in part, in the Preface to his bibliography:

Screen Shot 2018-01-03 at 7.42.46 PM.png

(The above image is based on the digitized version (digitized by Google)
of a copy at Harvard University, via the Hathi Trust Digital Library.)


—Tom Sawyer

January 3, 2018

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