Comments on “Hearts, Heartsette, and Ombre,” a very scarce card-game booklet by Professor Hoffmann, published by Goodall, 1902 — thanks to Edward Copisarow . . .

Edward Copisarow recently sent me images of his copy of Hearts, Heartsette, and Ombre, by Professor Hoffmann, published by Goodall, 1902 — the only copy I know of in a private collection.  Through Edward’s courtesy, I am able to post images of the book, below.

To begin with, the following is Jessel’s listing for the booklet (from NYPL via Hathi Trust Digital Library):

I actually think it is very difficult to judge the scarcity or rarity of certain card-game booklets.  You might “know” that a booklet is quite scarce, but the mere appearance of a few copies of one title versus one (or zero) copies of another title may not say much.  On the other hand, when that is all one has to go on, the information is better than nothing.

As things stand now, I believe that the scarcest three Hoffmann card-game booklets are:

Bridge Varieties, 1902

Hearts, Heartsette, and Ombre, 1902

Quinto, 1907

As I have probably stated a few times, I do not have copies of any of those three.  And I have never seen copies of any of them for sale.  I have heard of perhaps two or three copies of Quinto changing hands.  (Where they are now, I do not know.)  I now know of two copies of Bridge Varieties, one in Mike Goodall’s collection, and one in Edward Copisarow’s collection.  And yet, the only copy of Hearts, Heartsette, and Ombre I have ever heard of, outside of the Bodleian Library, is the one in Edward’s collection.

Again, experienced collectors and dealers realize that three copies could turn up in the next month.  But as it is, my own view is that unless and until further information arises to the contrary, one pretty much has to figure that Hearts, Heartsette, and Ombre is the scarcest, or maybe one could say rarest, of the Hoffmann card-game booklets.

I really enjoyed seeing these images.  For one thing, there is always a semi-superstitious doubt as to the details of an item — and even as to its existence — until one sees incontrovertible proof about the item.

And in this case, it is quite interesting as well that the cover title has no comma after the word “Heartsette” — although the title-page title does.  In this case, I would think that the title-page title would control, so to speak.

Similarly, harking back to the images of Mike Goodall’s Bridge Varieties in an earlier post, I had never seen the subtitle to that book until Mike sent me the images.

—Tom Sawyer

November 28, 2012

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