More on Frederic Jessel and “Notes and Queries,” 1903 . . .

David Levy kindly continues the Frederic Jessel saga with the following information that he sent to me.  This relates to the 1903 Notes and Queries information in an earlier post, and the follow-up information in another post.  (Toward the end of this post, I’ll make one or two brief comments.)  Here are David’s observations–until the final three sentences of this post (which are in boldface):

I did want to mention what I found most striking about the Jessel response in N&Q about the origins of bezique. In the response, Jessel shows a great familiarity with 19th century French gaming literature. His collection at the Bodleian was quite strong in French books from the 17th to the 19th centuries. Indeed, he considered doing a bibliography of French literature:

“Any corrections or additions that may tend to the improvement of this book will be greatly received, as also any suggestions likely to prove useful in the compilation of a similar bibliography of French books on Gaming which I have in contemplation.” [intro to his bibliography of English works]

Alas, he never wrote the French bibliography and we are stuck with Horr.  Fortunately Thierry Depaulis has done a brilliant bibliography of French books on card games through 1800 (with a representative supplement covering books through 1850).

Back to Jessel:  The Bodleian has an alphabetized hand list of his collection [shelf mark Jessel ms 1, though it is shelved with the printed books rather than manuscripts] which shows the extent of his collection of works in French.  It is a blank accounting ledger in which he listed his collection by author and title and is much more fun (and reliable) than the online catalogue for the Bodley.  While I’m mentioning this, I should note that the Bodley has three copies of his bibliography (one incomplete), with his handwritten corrections.  In looking at these, I’ve focused mostly on the Hoyle entries and note that he corrected almost all of the Hoyle errors in his bibliography in one or more of these copies.  It would be interesting to look at his corrections, if any, for the Goodall booklets.  The shelf marks are Jessel d.136, d.137 and d.138, and they are a fascinating read.

I appreciate David sending me those comments.  If you go to David’s blog about Edmond Hoyle, you will see many references to Jessel.  Examples of posts dealing with Jessel are this and this.

—Tom Sawyer

December 7, 2012

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