Okay, so Professor Hoffmann wrote sixteen card-game rule-booklets for Goodall. What if . . .

In an earlier post, I listed the titles of sixteen card-game rule-booklets written by Professor Hoffmann.  You might say, “What if I have a copy of the combined edition of Rubicon Bezique and Bezique?  Does that ‘count’ as having a copy of Rubicon Bezique as listed?”

The short answer is, “Yes, of course.”  The main problem is that it does not constitute a first edition of Rubicon Bezique.

The same thing goes for Progressive Card Games (to use a truncated version of the title).  If you have a copy of that, it ‘counts’ as having a copy of Progressive Whist, Hearts, & Euchre.  But if someone says, “Do you have a copy of Progressive Whist, Hearts, & Euchre,” you would say, “Yes!  It’s great!”  Then you would pause, lower your head, and say, “Well, it’s not the first edition, so it has a somewhat different title.  But, you know, it’s basically the same book.”

So, like many things, it depends on the context.  If a collector asks you the question, you would ordinarily supply details as to what you have, and a more realistic answer would be, “I don’t have the first edition.  I have that one called Progressive Card Games.  It’ll have to do, until I find a first edition.”

You might say, “Tom, what is the relative desirability of the works you have been talking about?”  Here is how I basically look at it.  Let’s disregard “condition” for purposes of this discussion.

As to Rubicon Bezique, there are several levels of desirability.  If we assume that a first edition, 1895, is a 10, then a copy of another early edition (like second, third, fourth) would be a 7.  After the cover-design change (which was not later than the circa 1907 sixth edition), you are talking more like a 5.

As for the booklets on progressive card games, I would say a first edition is a 10, the one that adds Bridge would be an 8, and the one that adds Solo-Whist would be maybe a 5.  The one that adds Bridge might even be a 9, because that is a pretty substantial amount of new material, and after all it is the first edition with that new material.

But what about comparing the two titles?  That’s a tough one, because Rubicon Bezique came out much earlier than Progressive Whist, Hearts, & Euchre, and Rubicon Bezique was one of the three booklets to have the 1895 date on the first edition–it was one of Hoffmann’s earliest booklets.  It was probably more important, as well.

On the other hand, I think that first editions of Rubicon Bezique are less scarce than first editions of Progressive Whist, Hearts, & Euchre.

In the end, I would rather have a first edition of Rubicon Bezique than a first edition of the other.  But as to later editions of both titles, I would rather have the other (on progressive card games), typically.  After all, some of Hoffmann’s books had large numbers of editions; others had small numbers of editions, possibly as low as one.  It is possible that the existence of large numbers of later editions can reduce the desirability of a first edition–since in theory you might more easily find a later edition that somewhat satisfies your quest.

And looking for “later editions” is kind of a significant activity for card-game rule-booklet collectors, since first editions as a group are quite, quite difficult to find.

I am sure that I have oversimplified a rather complicated topic.  I suppose that one of the main factors that I have ignored is condition.  My own first edition of Rubicon Bezique is not in the best condition, and in fact the front cover has a crack running from the top to the bottom, and it has other defects as well.  My copy of Progressive Whist, Bridge, Hearts, and Euchre is in near-perfect condition.  If I had to give up one of them, there is really no choice–it would be the Rubicon Bezique.

Or, let’s consider two hypothetical collectors.  The first has first editions of all sixteen of Hoffmann’s rule-booklets, in poor condition.  The other has first editions of eight, in fine condition.  I would conclude that the second collector has the better collection.

Discussions such as the foregoing are of limited value, in part because so much depends on the exact circumstances.

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