“The Royal Game of Bezique,” by Camden — Part XII: Some thoughts on edition sizes . . .

Back in mid-2011, I had several posts relating to relative scarcity among Goodall’s card-game booklets.  In one of them, I listed quite a few printing “sizes” based on information found in various booklets in my collection.

Most of the information — almost all of it — came from copies of The Royal Game of Bezique.  I am repeating that information below (edited slightly):

10,000-1-10. — Thirty-Second Edition

5,000-1-12. — Thirty-Fourth Edition

5,000-1-15. — Thirty-Ninth Edition

5,000-10-15. — Forty-First Edition

10,000-2-17. — Forty-Fourth Edition

5,000-12-17. — Forty-Sixth Edition

5,000-5-19. — Forty-Sixth Edition (With a different date from that of the preceding booklet–I’m not including it in my calculations below.)

5,000-12-19. — Forty-Seventh Edition

So, that covers seven editions, with a total of 45,000 copies!  And that only accounts for seven of the editions from edition 32 through edition 47 — seven of those sixteen editions.  If the averages hold, then those sixteen editions consisted of a total of more than 100,000 copies — during a period of less than ten years.

Obviously, during the 1910-1919 period, Goodall issued quite a few “editions.”  For the 1868-1909 period, it would appear that they issued about thirty-one editions — almost precisely one per year.  If the edition sizes were the same, on average, as in the later editions, then thirty-one editions totaled about 200,000 copies.  That would mean a total of about 300,000 copies of the booklet were produced from 1869-1919.

But what if Goodall produced not the same number per edition, but instead the same number per decade (as in the 1910-1919 decade)?  Easy — then the grand total, 1868-1919, would be very close to 500,000 copies (actually somewhat more).

You might be saying, “Those are great statistics, but is there some practical use for them?”

And I am sure there are a number of uses.

One such use is:  that helps one understand why one never sees copies of The Game of Ace Major or Quinto.

If I had to pull a number out of the air, I might say that about 20 copies of The Royal Game of Bezique have been appearing on eBay each year.

Note:  Actually, the number is probably higher than that.  I just checked the “completed” listings for eBay, US and UK, and noted about a dozen copies during approximately the past three months.  (In many cases, the booklets were part of sets.)

Let’s assume that 50 copies come up per year, and let’s assume that 500,000 copies of the booklet appeared during 1868-1919.  That means that each year 50/500,000, or 1/10,000 of total copies, appear for sale (for the period 1868-1919, and probably nearly all of the copies I counted were from that period).

I know I am simplifying throughout this post, but on that basis, one can make a few rough conclusions.

If there were 1,000 copies of Professor Hoffmann’s Quinto, one might expect one to come up every ten years!

Ditto re The Game of Ace Major — but something tells me a better figure would be every 20 years, on average.  (Of course, two could come up in one week!)

The following (in boldface) is from the earlier post.  It helps round out the picture, and it provides some basis for assuming 1,000 copies for The Game of Ace Major and Quinto.

Additionally, I have a copy of Whist for All Players, by Captain Crawley, A New Edition, which also has printing information.  It was revised by Captain Crawley’s son, Rawdon Crawley, Bart.  (This presumably would be George Frederick Pardon and Charles Frederick Pardon.) The information in that booklet is as follows:


So, that printing consisted of a mere 1,000 copies.  I have two other copies of that Whist booklet that do not have any similar information.

—Tom Sawyer

Wednesday, January 2, 2012

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