If you look through this blog, you may see that I have repeatedly made reference to the supposed fact that the first edition of Professor Hoffmann’s Bridge Whist was published in 1899. In fact, I said as much in at least five different posts. That turns out to be incorrect, as will be seen below.
First, a few introductory comments.
The earliest (and only) date shown by Jessel for Hoffmann’s Bridge Whist is 1899, and it appears that the Bodleian Library does not have an earlier copy. The Bodleian Library shows 1900 for the copy in Jessel’s collection.
I would not assume that Jessel’s “1899” was stated in error, in part because that would not usually be an easy error to make. Jessel may have based his bibliographical description on a copy other than his own. Another distinct possibility is that the cover and title page showed different dates (one 1899 and one 1900). And I want to be clear about this: Jessel did not state that the first edition was dated 1899. I did at least have the sense to indicate that much in one of my earlier posts. But I basically assumed that the first edition was 1899. (Making assumptions is often dangerous in the field of bibliography, and I do try not to make too many.)
This isn’t a real survey, but the copies of Bridge Whist that I know of can be listed as follows:
1899: One copy (see discussion above).
1900: Two copies (one in Mike Goodall’s year-2000 book, and one belonging to a collector).
1902: Four copies (belonging to collectors).
1903: Three copies (at least two of which say Bridge Whist on the cover and Bridge on the title page, which I actually consider to be Bridge, but I am mentioning them here for more clarity).
That represents ten booklets (probably including some duplicates, of course) over a period of five years (or seven over a period of four years, if one excludes the 1903 booklets). Everything seemed clustered from 1899 to 1903.
Note: There were many, many later editions of the booklet (though not all had the same text), under the title Bridge. Everything after the Ninth Edition is not included in the present discussion.
In short, before 1899: Nothing.
But thanks to David Levy, a San Francisco-based collector and bibliographer, that has changed. David kindly sent me scans of an edition of Bridge Whist, by Professor Hoffmann, dated 1895.
It seems that previously no one suspected the existence of an edition of this booklet predating 1899.
Here are relevant scans, which are shown here through David’s courtesy. First, the front cover, plainly showing the 1895 date:
Next, the inside front-cover and title page, which also shows the 1895 date:
Be sure to check out David Levy’s blog (see the link toward the upper right of this page). Many of the posts are great lessons in bibliographical analysis.