The following is a significantly revised and enlarged version of a post that I originally posted on a different blog on September 19, 2010 (at 18:07).
In my view, the “age” of a booklet is almost never a factor that should “qualify” a statement regarding its condition. The reason that age is almost never an excuse is that, as to most books, they exist in fine condition, somewhere, and a non-embarrassing, very good copy will probably become more or less “available” somewhere, sometime, even if at a price.
As to such booklets by Professor Hoffmann, I believe that J.B. Findlay and I were pretty far off-base on certain points. We said, in Professor Hoffmann: A Study, in part:
. . . since they were just rule booklets, usually issued with playing card sets, the comparatively short lives which they often had is understandable.
The fact, though, was that a large number had survived, but they were (largely) more-or-less hidden. (I think eBay is the main thing which has coaxed many of them out of hiding.)
But they were still relatively fragile, and small, and were possibly referred-to and handled often. So, sure, many of them survived, but almost all of them are in terrible condition, right? I mean, overall the surviving copies are in poorish condition, right?
As a matter of fact, a good percentage of them (not just those by Hoffmann) are in outstanding condition! Quite a few are actually in “fine” condition, which is about the highest rating of a book’s condition, regardless of the era.
I think the reason for this is that many copies were never looked at. And many copies were protected in special compartments in the card-game sets.
Check this out. It shows the outside of the top of one of Goodall’s card-game sets (as well as a flap):
Below is shown (mainly) the “inside” of the above “top.”
Following is a scan of one of the booklets, shown outside of the box.
Below is shown the inside front-cover of the booklet, and the title page.
Below is shown the inside front-cover and title page of the other booklet.
The above two scans make the title pages appear obviously stained. In the actual booklets, the discoloration is mainly extremely subtle–almost non-existent.