Establishing the date for the Fourth Edition of “Rubicon Bezique,” by Professor Hoffmann

I have recently discussed the sixth edition of Rubicon Bezique, by Professor Hoffmann, published by Goodall, circa 1907.  I have also talked about the seventh edition, circa 1909.  Now I will take a look at the fourth edition.

You may wonder why I capitalized “Fourth Edition” in the heading of this post, yet now I seem to have switched to all lower-case letters.  I am actually a little torn.  Since the booklet says “Fourth Edition” on the title page, that seems to create the applicable term.  Yet it is probably more like a fourth “printing” of the text.  So “fourth edition” (lower case) seems looser, and more fitting.  On the other hand, it seems more clinical (and one might thus expect more precision).  Nonetheless, I am going to tend to use “fourth edition” in this post.

Oh, well.  I have discussed terminology elsewhere in this blog.  And now it should be obvious that I am talking about the fourth edition as so-portrayed by Goodall — which as to the pamphlet under discussion probably means fourth printing.

Following is a scan of the front cover.  It will be noticed that the copy portrayed has basically a completely different front-cover design than the sixth and seventh editions.  About the only thing in common with the sixth and seventh edition is the title itself.

Following is a scan of the back cover.  It is similar to that of the sixth and seventh editions, but by no means identical.

Next is a scan of the inside front-cover and title page.

The list of booklets on the inside front-cover provides clues for a quick determination of the book’s approximate date.  We know, though, without looking at anything, that the book is circa 1907 or earlier (based on the date of publication of the sixth edition), and that it is 1895 or later, since the first edition was dated 1895.  (Okay, it is remotely possible that the first edition, though dated 1895, actually appeared in 1894, or even 1896 — I am ignoring that.)

If we assume that the “editions” were evenly spaced between the first and the sixth, and if we use the simplified span of 1895 through 1907 as the time during which the second, third, fourth, and fifth editions appeared, we could take a reasonable guesses as follows for the years of publication:

1895 first

1898 second

1901 third

1903 fourth

1906 fifth

1907  sixth

That would give us a date of circa 1903 for the first edition.  [This should have said fourth, not first.–T.S.]

But, of course, we do not need to do that.  For instance, Jessel shows 1896 for the second edition of Rubicon Bezique.  One of the books listed on the inside front-cover is Bridge Whist, by Professor Hoffmann.  As mentioned in another post in this blog, it appears that the Bridge Whist title was being phased out (giving preference to Bridge) in circa 1903. That makes circa 1903 the latest possible date for the fourth edition of Rubicon Bezique.

Without checking, I can say pretty surely that all of the other titles listed except Cribbage, Skat, and Khanhoo are potentially far earlier, and probably would not help in the present endeavor.  But it would be interesting to note the dates for those three.  If, for example, one of them first appeared in 1903, that’s a “bingo,” because that would be the earliest possible date (approximately) for the fourth edition of Rubicon Bezique.  We already know that the latest date for the fourth edition is circa 1903.

You might ask, “Where can we find the earliest dates for those three items?”  The best place to start is Jessel’s bibliography.

Jessel’s number 1265 is Cribbage, by Rawdon Crawley, with a date 1889. That does not help.

Jessel’s number 1200 is Rules of the Celebrated Game of Skat, with some Hints for Beginners, by Mon, with a date of 1890.  That does not really help, but it is possible (but rather unlikely) that the Skat listed on the inside front-cover is a different book.

I’m pretty certain that Khanhoo came out in the 1890s, but I will check Jessel.

Indeed, Jessel shows (number 1694) Wilkinson’s The Game of Khanhoo, 1891.

Well!  That’s not very satisfactory.  None of the titles helped, except Bridge Whist.

As it turns out, Bridge Whist was the latest to “first appear” (of the booklets) listed.  Since it first appeared in or around 1899 (Jessel shows 1899), the fourth edition of Rubicon Bezique can be dated as circa 1899 to 1903.  And that’s about as close as I can get, using only the booklet-advertisement on the inside front cover.

The booklet shown is in exquisite condition, and I am quite glad that it is in my collection.

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