Another look at “The Royal Game of Bezique” — Part 4: General remarks, mainly on front-cover variations, but also on title variations, and on the combined printings of Camden’s text and Professor Hoffmann’s “Rubicon Bezique” — in other words, a bit of an “olla podrida” . . .

This post is a salute to my dear father, John Hiatt Sawyer, who turned 97 years of age this past Thanksgiving Day, and who has gone through some severe trials lately.

With this post, I am continuing the series that I started in an earlier post and continued in another post after that.  It seems reasonable to spend a lot of time on The Royal Game of Bezique, since it was probably Goodall’s first card-game booklet, and I think it probably went through more printings than any other Goodall booklet.  It may have been published over a longer span of years than any other as well, at least if one considers the combined printings of Camden’s text on Bezique and Professor Hoffmann’s Rubicon Bezique.

However, this series of posts probably will not deal much, if at all, with the combined printings.  I suppose that the cover title of the combined versions was Rubicon Bezique and Bezique, though this was interrupted by authorship information.  I think I have at least nine copies of that — probably more.  The most recent printings were no earlier than the late 1930s — maybe much later.  I have not really focused on that booklet much, but the sequence of printings well illustrates the decline into which the booklet fell as a piece of bookmaking.  Those later booklets, qua booklets, represent a rather perfunctory approach by De La Rue.

Interestingly, almost as though to confuse collectors, the wording of the title of the text varied somewhat.  Boiled down, the title appeared at least four different ways, but a reasonable designation for the booklet is The Royal Game of Bezique.  I hope to get into that topic in the future.

I have not thought about it much, but another booklet that was printed many times, over many years, was Professor Hoffmann’s Selected Patience Games.  The Bodleian Library has a copy for which the online catalog shows [1907].  (That is probably the first edition.)

The Camden booklet on Bezique, as noted, in one form or another was published well into the twentieth century.  Although the patience games booklet was also published decades into the twentieth century, it seems somewhat likely that the booklet on Bezique was longer lived, because it was first published almost forty years earlier than the one on patience games.

Anyway, during its long run, and not including the time after the Camden text on Bezique was combined with that of Hoffmann’s Rubicon Bezique as discussed above, Camden’s The Royal Game of Bezique had several different covers.

I have never seen a first edition — nor, apart from Jessel, have I seen details of any booklet that more or less purported to be a first edition.

The second edition does not show an author, but even though the text was not exactly the same as that of later editions, I think one may be permitted to consider it as having been written by Camden.  “Camden” is obviously a pseudonym, and whether it actually refers to one certain person does not appear to be known.

But the second edition has a rather plain cover, as shown in an earlier post.

After that, there were at least three fundamental cover designs of the separate publication of the booklet.  Those three were not related to each other in any significant way.  Then, even within the three, there were variations, big and little.  (Perhaps I should not say “within the three,” because, for instance, there is one design for which I know of no variants.)

I would be shocked if I am even aware of all of the differences, but I would estimate that I own examples with more than ten variant front-covers.  This includes small variations (such as with and without “Price Sixpence,” and color variations).  However, this does not include differences that are manifested by the edition number or lack thereof.  (I also know of at least two more, which I do not have examples of.)

I expect to go into this further in future posts.

—Tom Sawyer

December 12, 2012

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