In my collection, I have two copies of The Royal Game of Bezique that are stated to be the “Twenty-Fifth Edition.” Yet they look very little like each other!
The first question I’ll address is, “When were the booklets published?” Well, the following quotation is from an earlier post on this blog. Speaking of Mike Goodall’s year-2000 book on the Goodall family, I said:
Mike’s book shows that Goodall’s operation in Birmingham was 1893-1912, so that provides an initial range of dates for the booklet, which is undated. Mike also says: “On the 15th May 1897 it became a limited liability company [. . .].” That suggests that the booklet is 1897 or later, since the company name on the booklet includes “Ltd.”
All right, that provides a good starting point. One of the booklets shows “Ltd.” in a couple of places, so that copy (in this post, I’ll call it Copy 1) is plainly 1897 or later. It is difficult to place a “latest possible date” on Copy 1, but the Thirty-Second Edition appeared in January 1910.
Based on the foregoing, Copy 1 was probably published in one of the years 1897 through 1910, inclusive, but it is highly likely that it did not appear close to the Thirty-Second Edition, so a reasonable range of dates would include 1897, 1898, 1899, 1900, 1901, 1902, 1903, 1904, 1905, or 1906.
The other copy (Copy 2) does not show “Ltd.” anywhere that I can see (though it lacks the back cover, so I have not had access to the entire booklet). Nonetheless, I am inclined to say that the lack of “Ltd.” shows the booklet as probably 1897 or earlier. However, the booklet does say “London and Birmingham,” which places it as no earlier than 1893.
Based on the foregoing, Copy 2 is probably 1893, 1894, 1895, 1896, or 1897.
Some might say, the solution is obvious — the two copies of the Twenty-Fifth Edition have one possible date in common: 1897. So, 1897 must be the date!
But I am not so sanguine about that. In fact, there is almost no evidence that the two copies of the “Twenty-Fifth Edition” have much connection with each other at all.
Below is an image of the front cover of Copy 1:
Below is an image of the front cover of Copy 2:
January 4, 2013