A few additional comments on Ray Ricard’s checklist of small-format magic books . . .

In the preceding post, I tried to answer the question of whether Ray Ricard’s checklist of small-format magic books represents a worthwhile purchase if you are only interested in the portion which lists Goodall booklets by Professor Hoffmann.   The title is A Short Title History and Checklist of Wee Books 1800-2005.  My conclusion was that the book is not a necessary purchase for a Goodall collector — but I hope that I made it clear that overall the book is interesting, educational, and worthwhile.

Some may wonder why the book does not mention “magic” in the title.  I suppose that the “magic” notion is included within the concept of “wee books,” which was magic-collector J.B. Findlay’s term for magic books meeting certain size-characteristics.  In my own opinion, the magic-collecting world needs to get away from Findlay’s definition, which is (to my way of thinking) a poor one, at best.  Ray notes on page six that the criteria involved not only a certain maximum height and width — but the book needed to be thin enough to be placed into an envelope of — oh, let us not get into it.

In this post I will discuss certain attributes of Ray’s book, and I will also discuss the Hoffmann material in a little detail.

As to the book overall, I counted I believe a total of twenty-one color illustrations, or thereabouts, and the cover also pictures quite a few items in color. The last numbered page is 111, and the book lists well over seven hundred books or booklets.  None of the illustrations portray any card-game booklets, other than the cover of the book, which (among other books) shows the covers (not fully, though) of three card-game booklets.

Of course, the books dealt with in the checklist are mainly books dealing with magic, or which are closely connected thereto.

Here are a few comments about the segment that deals with Hoffmann items.

I am fairly certain that the book does not list any Goodall booklets that are not by Hoffmann (other than the combined printings of Hoffmann’s Rubicon Bezique and Camden’s work on Bezique).  The Hoffmann entries in Ray’s book run from number 278 through 344, inclusive — a total of sixty-seven entries.

Included among them are listings for two versions of The Wizard’s Pocket Book (published by Gamage), and listings for six versions of Card Tricks Without Sleight of Hand (published by Warne), and one other non-card-game item.

That leaves 58 listings for card-game booklets by Hoffmann.  Of those, perhaps ten or so involve De La Rue to at least some extent.  One (from 1933) involves yet another publisher.

The listings are all rather brief.  After all, it is a “short-title checklist.”  Here is the first Hoffmann entry, which is very typical:

278.  Hoffmann, Prof.  Auction Bridge.  Pictorial wraps.  London, Chas Goodall, 1912.  3  7/8  x  2  5/8″.

Basically, with I think a few exceptions, the book surveyed the holdings of various collections.  As one might expect, the commoner titles are represented by more entries.  One title has eleven entries, and another has eight.

It is more or less an axiom that any bibliographical work of any length and complexity brings with it the near-certainty of mistakes.  I cannot really speak about the non-Hoffmann material, but the Hoffmann material does appear to have its share of what one might refer to as typographical errors.

It is a little disconcerting to see, among the Goodall booklets, the word “Sons” (plural) as part of the publisher name, and this occurred in more than twenty of the entries.  Also, “Ecarte” is misspelled in one of the entries (as well as in the preliminary essay material).  (Of course, I rarely include diacritical marks myself — but I am talking about an extra letter.)

The book contains an entry for “Original Round Games” and an entry for “Schnapps & Other Original Round Games.”  But I am quite sure that “Original Round Games” is simply the cover title of the Schnapps booklet, so it should not have had its own entry.  (Also, the ampersand should really have been spelled out as “and.”)

Professor Hoffmann’s booklet Bridge Varieties is not mentioned at all.

One aspect of Ray’s checklist that merits further mention is what might be referred to as the “survey” component, since the book gives the locations for examples of many of the booklets.  This is undoubtedly an interesting feature.

A number of entries have no such information, and (according to page 10), “then the information comes from research or listings in other bibliographies.”  This is the case with Auction Bridge, Five Hundred, Patience Games (Second Series), and the booklet called Hearts, Heartsette, and Ombre.  It is probably also the case as to first editions of at least four other Hoffmann booklets — and actually, the checklist does not purport to list all of the first editions.

Again, I have enjoyed owning and consulting the book, and I do believe it is worthwhile.  But you don’t desperately need it if your sole interest is in Professor Hoffmann or Goodall.

—Tom Sawyer

February 23, 2013

About 825 words.

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