Comments on Professor Hoffmann (Angelo J. Lewis, 1839-1919) as an inventor of card games . . .

There are two kinds of people in the world:  those who write about card games, and those who invent them.

Oh, okay, there are also many other kinds of people.

And that is proven by the fact that Professor Hoffmann (Angelo J. Lewis) did both things!

This post is not to be an essay on Hoffmann’s writings about card games, though.  It deals more with Hoffmann as an inventor.

Now, if you are interested in Professor Hoffmann as a writer on card games, then you should check out a post I wrote a long time ago, namely this.  It is really a pretty good post, and it kind of untangles a lot of the complexities relating to Hoffmann as a writer on card games.  (It does not mention any magazine articles by Hoffmann on card games.  The only ones I can think of off hand are one called “The Game of Bridge” and one called “A Card-Game for Three,” about Ombre.)

Just “when” Hofmann decided to invent a card game, I do not know.  In his conjuring activities, Hoffmann often tried to be creative and do something new, so it was probably in his genes.  I’m not super-familiar with the contents of The Modern Hoyle or The Cyclopedia of Card and Table Games, but I doubt whether any of his inventions appear therein.  Professor Hoffmann’s game Quinto did appear in later editions of Hoyle’s Games Modernized, which according to Hoffmann’s preface was based on The Book of Card and Table Games (which was in turn a revised version of The Cyclopaedia of Card and Table Games).

Who Was Who for 1929 says (in the entry for Angelo Lewis), in part:  “Inventor of card games, Quinto, Schnapps, Bimbo, Frisco, Queen Mab, San Tan, Zigzag, Knock Out and Boss.”  (That is from the Google Books “Snippet view” of that book.)  No mention of his card-game inventions is made in the 1901 edition of Who’s Who, a copy of which I have in my collection.

Eddie Dawes wrote an article about Hoffmann with regard to Who Was Who 1916-1928, which I published in the June 1975 issue of The Hoffmann Collector.  That issue also reproduced the 1904 and 1911 entries for Angelo Lewis in Who’s Who — which had no mention of card-game inventions.

Someplace around here (and I think I have mentioned it before), I have a photocopy of a brief obituary for Angelo Lewis.  As I recall, it refers to him as “the writer on card games,” or words to the effect, and it has no mention of his interest in magic.  (It might even have said, “the inventor of card games.”)  So, Hoffmann had re-invented himself — over a period of three decades.

From memory, Hoffmann’s last books on magic were Later Magic (published in 1904), King Koko (1904 or so), Magical Titbits (1910, but dated 1911), and Latest Magic, 1918.  But after 1890, other than those books, he had many books on games and pastimes (written, edited, or translated by him), including The Cyclopaedia of Card and Table Games, Puzzles Old and New, The Illustrated Book of Patience Games, The Game of Skat, Baccarat Fair and Foul, Every Boy’s Book of Sport and PastimeHoyle’s Games Modernized, The Games of Greco, and also Dominoes [with Draughts, by McCulloch).  And, of course, Hoffmann’s 1890 translation of Arthur Good’s Magic at Home was more a book on amusements than it was a magic book.

Again, that is from memory, so I may have something wrong, or I may have left something out.  But my point is that Hoffmann’s writings on non-magic subjects, during the 1891-1918 period — the last 28 years of his life — positively swamped his books on magic during that period.  Relatively speaking, the magic writer was gone as of 1891, and the games writer took his place.  (Yes, I know there are exceptions — for example, The Modern Hoyle, of 1887.)

Back on Professor Hoffmann as an inventor of card games, I’ll probably get into this subject more in the future.  The subject is closely connected with his writing of card-game booklets for Goodall, because Patience With the Joker, and Schnapps and Other Original Round Games, and Quinto are all comprised of games of Hoffmann’s own invention.

—Tom Sawyer

Friday, November 30, 2012

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