Comments on an inscribed copy of Professor Hoffmann’s “Patience Games,” 1900, and on other books inscribed by Professor Hoffmann

Note:  I have added another book to the listing of inscribed books. —Tom Sawyer (9-8-11)

Note:  I am reposting this, effective August 1, 2011.  I originally posted it on July 9, 2011, at 20:39 p.m.  I made a mistake in the original version of this post.  The inscribed copy of the rule booklet was not Patience Games, Second Series, 1901.  It was Patience Games, 1900.  I have made appropriate revisions below.  I have also expanded the discussion quite a bit.  I have also added a book to the listing of inscribed books:  The Games of Greco.  —Tom Sawyer (8/1/11)

Many years ago, H. Adrian Smith, a noted book-collector, sent me a photocopy of an inscription by Professor Hoffmann in a copy of Patience Games, 1900–one of the card-game rule-booklets written by Professor Hoffmann and published by Goodall. The book was part of Smith’s collection.

That is the only card-game rule-booklet I have ever heard of that was inscribed by Hoffmann.  Moreover, it is the only card-game rule-booklet of which I am aware, regardless of author, that has any kind of handwriting in it by the author.  I reproduced the inscription in The Hoffmann Collector:  The First Ten Years, 1986, on page 104, as well as in one of the individual issues (No. 12, August 1979) of The Hoffmann Collector.

Very inexplicably, it looks as though I included the reproduction in both places without mentioning that it was H. Adrian Smith who sent the photocopy to me.  I did, however, mention Adrian rather prominently in that issue, in another connection.  I only met Adrian Smith once, and that was at the Society of American Magicians convention in Pasadena, in the summer of 1979.  Adrian had an astounding Hoffmann collection and contributed quite a bit of arcane information to The Hoffmann Collector.

It is quite difficult to read the inscription in the Patience Games, because the reproduction is rather poorish, but it reads something like this:

[Dr.] Saram R. Ellison

With Professor Hoffmann’s

[kind regards.]

I placed brackets around the material that isn’t very clear (and is somewhat doubtful).

The inside front cover bears Ellison’s bookplate, modified so that it says, in part, “To Dr. A.M. Wilson from Saram R. Ellison, M.D., Collection.”

I also met magic-collector John Henry Grossman at that convention.  John Henry was very much “on the go”– he basically hopped into a car and was on his way. Adrian was more “kick-back.”  Both were major magic-book collectors, toward the very top of the pack.  Now, I’m sorry to say, neither are with us.  I corresponded a lot with both of those gentlemen.  Adrian’s collection is now at Brown University.  I don’t know what the destination of John Henry’s collection was.

Lately I have been thinking about books inscribed by Hoffmann, and I thought I would list the copies of books I am aware of that carried presentation inscriptions by Hoffmann. The list was created largely off the top of my head, so it may not include everything I have heard of.  I am not going to list the owners, in part because I do not have that information as to all of the books, and in part because they might not wish to be mentioned, and also for miscellaneous other reasons.  The year in parentheses is the year of the inscription, where I know it, or else my estimate of when the book was inscribed.

The only one of these books now in my collection is the 1892 first edition of The Illustrated Book of Patience Games inscribed to M.H. Spielmann.  (Three others were formerly part of my collection.)  The Spielmann book was formerly in Jay Marshall’s collection, and it is a beauty, in outstanding condition.  Spielmann was a writer and art critic, and was a student of Charlier.

Modern Magic, inscribed by Hoffmann to his wife (1876)

Modern Magic, inscribed to one of Hoffmann’s contemporaries (1876)

The Secrets of Conjuring and Magic (translated by Hoffmann), inscribed to Hoffmann’s wife (1877)

The Secrets of Conjuring and Magic (translated by Hoffmann), with a presentation inscription, but not mentioning the recipient’s name (1878)

Card-Sharping Exposed (translated by Hoffmann), inscribed to E.H. Palmer (1882)

Conjurer Dick, inscribed to Hoffmann’s wife (1885)

The Illustrated Book of Patience Games (translated by Hoffmann), inscribed to M.H. Spielmann (1892)

Puzzles Old and New, inscribed to Miss Hammond (1893)

The Games of Greco, inscribed to Ellis Stanyon (1900)

Patience Games, inscribed to Saram R. Ellison (1900)

King Koko, inscribed to C.O. Williams (1905)

Magical Titbits, inscribed to C.O. Williams (1910)

Magical Titbits, inscribed to David Devant (1910)

Latest Magic, inscribed to Sydney W. Clarke (1918)

I think I am aware of perhaps three others as well, but I want to find out more about them before listing them.  I am quite happy to own that inscribed copy of The Illustrated Book of Patience Games, and I might discuss it further in a post in the future.

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