In theory, if you are a collector, the best time to formulate a collecting plan, and to determine the scope and sphere and extent of a collection, is before you begin collecting, or at least in the early stages of collecting. Unfortunately, you rarely realize what you “should” collect until you have allowed a number of items to slip through your hands.
In my own case, if I were to start collecting card-game rule-booklets today, I would probably look for all of the early ones (say pre-1900), regardless of publisher. But in practice my main focus has been on booklets published by Goodall, and to a slightly lesser degree, upon those published by De La Rue.
My own belief is that the Goodall booklets are overall more interesting than the De La Rue booklets. To me they seem more attractive (better designed). The Goodall booklets also have a much wider variety of basic cover designs. Also, the Goodall booklets tend to have advertisements that are more interesting than those in the De La Rule booklets, though I suppose that is a somewhat close call. Also, the back covers of the De La Rue booklets tend to be uninteresting both visually and content-wise.
The Goodall booklets seem to be higher-quality productions as well. The covers of the Del La Rue booklets are generally quite flimsy–maybe solid enough for a “rule-booklet qua rule-booklet,” but not for a “book qua book.” That is, they may have held together fine in their use as rule booklets, but as objects of art, they have a strike against them, because they seem cheaply made.
In my view, in just about every way, the Goodall booklets seem to be a better subject for collecting. Example: the Goodall booklets all (as far as I know) have proper title pages; on the other hand, I do not believe I have ever seen a pre-1920 De La Rue booklet with a title page. Again, this might not have impaired their use as rule-booklets, but it definitely detracts from them when viewed as collector’s items.
However, there are two areas in which the De La Rue booklets are especially interesting. First, the contents (and the authorship). I am not qualified to evaluate the relative merit of the actual contents of the two series of booklets. However, Cavendish, a widely recognized authority, wrote many of the De La Rue booklets, and I believe that he did not write any for Goodall.
Of course, Goodall’s booklets were also (at least in most cases) written by noted authorities. I cannot say that the content of the Goodall booklets were better than the content of the De La Rue booklets (or vice versa). Likewise, I cannot say that the authors of one publisher were greater experts than the authors of the other.
The other major area in which De La Rue’s booklets might be “better” is that of publication dates. While Goodall’s earliest booklet was probably published in or around 1868, it is clear that a number of De La Rue’s were published earlier in that same decade. While I have probably a couple or so Goodalls from the 1860s or 1870s, I think I have at least a half-dozen De la Rues from that period, including one dated 1865 and three dated 1869.
Note: I am not trying to discourage the collecting of the De La Rue booklets. I am only trying to explain why I am more interested in the Goodall booklets.