Further comments on terminology in relation to card-game rule-booklets, and a little lesson in bibliography relating to “The Pocket Guide to Bezique,” by Cavendish (a De La Rue publication)

This is an edited version of a post I orignally posted on January 4, 2011, at 1:06 a.m.  It is posible that some of you have already seen it (in its earlier version).

In general, after the “first edition” of a card-game rule-booklet is published, there are a few things than can happen. First, the rule booklet might not be adequately successful, and because of that, it might never be reprinted, or it might not be reprinted for decades.  Or there might be some other reason, but with the same result: basically, no reprinting. This probably happened in the case of a number of the rule booklets.  I wonder, for instance, whether that might be the case for The Game of Check, or The Game of Ace Major, or Penchant:  A Game of Cards for Two Players, all of which were published by Goodall.  (Mike Goodall reproduces covers of those three in his 2000 book on the Goodalls.)

Another thing that could happen is that the booklet is popular, and that it is reprinted one or more times during the same year as the first edition.  I don’t know whether this ever happened, but I suspect it happened on several, perhaps many, occasions.  This is one reason why it seems to me that it will often be difficult to say for certain that a card-game rule-booklet is a first edition–there is frequently the possibility that the publisher simply reprinted the first edition, with no fanfare, perhaps a few weeks after the first edition, and during the same year.  A few years later, they might reprint it again, and call it the “second edition,” even if there had been no revisions.  In other words, publishers can pretty much call their different printings anything reasonable, even if it doesn’t comport with book-collecting notions.  (Of course, in this paragraph, I am using the book-collecting definition of “first edition,” basically “first impression of the first edition,” or, in short, “first printing.”)

Things can become very complex.  In another post on this blog, I mentioned the case of two copies of Cavendish’s booklet The Pocket Guide to Bezique (published by De La Rue), both dated 1869, one of which said “Second Edition” on the front cover, and the other of which did not.  It seems clear that De La Rue did not always place an edition number on the front cover of that booklet.

Jessel shows the first edition of that work as 1868 (though the Bodleian Library shows “[1868?]” for what may be the same book).  Jessel doesn’t call it the first edition, but he does list an 1869 second edition, which semi-logically would make any 1868 edition the first edition.

Below are scans of three covers of that title:

These are not anything like precise demonstrations of the colors used.  (For instance, all of the “hearts” and “diamonds” on the actual covers shown are red.)

Perhaps the most obvious difference between the two 1869 copies (other than the designation of one as second edition) is that the line of type under the words “Author of” (as well as certain other material) is printed in red on the stated “second edition,” and in black on the other.  We can provisionally conclude that the cover on the “black” one preceded the cover on the “red” one, since the “fifth edition” cover shown above used the additional red.  (It seems unlikely that the printing would go from red, to black, and back to red–though it could happen.)  Below are enlarged portions of the two 1869 covers.

The point is that it is not always super-meaningful to say that something is a “second edition.”  You might mean “second printing.”  You might mean “second edition according to the title page (or front cover).”  You might mean the first revised edition.  Or you might mean something else altogether.

Since we have seen that when a collector says “first edition,” he or she (usually) means “first impression of the first edition,” it follows (in my view) that the definitions start to break down if you take the definition of “edition,” add (say) “first,” or “second,” and assume that your new definition will always make sense.  (We all know what a dog is. And we know what “red” is.  But a “red dog,” to use old football-terminology, is not always simply a red-colored version of a canine.)

So, if I say “first edition,” my meaning should be clear.  If I say “second edition” (in this blog), it probably means only that the phrase “Second Edition” appears on the title page, or front cover, or both.  The same applies for a third edition, tenth edition, or forty-first edition.  In this context, the term probably refers (at least approximately) to the “number” of the printing.  (And if a revised edition came along, it would probably be numbered in the big sequence, as though it were simply another “printing.”)

But if I say, “I think this is a second edition, because the known first printing was dated December 1875 on the title page, and this one is dated January 1 on the title page” — well, you know that I think it is a second printing.

If I say, “The first edition was published in 1912,” or “The first edition was dated 1912,” it probably means that in my experience I have not run across credible information to the contrary, or (for instance) that it is the earliest edition listed by Jessel (or possibly by the Bodleian Library).  Jessel and the Bodleian Library are actually my main “external” sources of reasonably reliable bibliographical information relating to the Goodall card-game rule-booklets.

As I have mentioned before, the earliest Professor Hoffmann rule-booklets listed by Jessel were three booklets:  Ecarte, Piquet, and Rubicon Bezique.  Jessel shows 1895 for all three.  (Again, though, Jessel does not call any of the three booklets “first editions.”) All things considered, I am reasonably certain that the first editions of those three booklets were dated 1895 on the title page.  What is less certain is that there was only one edition of each with that date on the title page, or that all three were actually published that year, since many publishers have placed, say, 1904 on a title page, when the book was actually published in 1903.

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