Returning to David Levy and Frederic Jessel and a certain Cogan compilation . . .

David Levy wrote to me after my recent post about Frederic Jessel and the Cogan compilation, and we corresponded a bit about it.  Such Hoyle works as the Cogan compilation discussed present interesting bibliographical problems, and David has explored some of the difficulties on his blog.

One of David’s principal points was that I said in my post that the works that made up the Cogan collection had not been published separately.

Here (with David’s permission) I am posting the basics of one of his emails.  The Levy material is in boldface (except for a couple of things in brackets):

I’m just back from a week out of town and trying to get through voice mail, email, paper mail, etc. I was in Cleveland, my original home town, visiting family and friends and spending a great deal of time with the John White Chess Collection (the best chess collection in the world) at the Cleveland Public Library. I think I saw about 100 editions of Hoyle and I haven’t mentally processed it all yet.

Vis-à-vis the Cogan collection:

The terminology is so very awkward and, as you noted in the other email, I’m taking a departure from Bowers, the bible. I guess I would say “[David Levy, in his Hoyle blog] discusses Jessel’s removal of three works from a volume containing five titles by Hoyle, almost certainly bound together and issued as a collection by the publisher Cogan.”

It is 100% clear from notes in the books and auction catalogues that Jessel did the removal. It is overwhelmingly likely that he did not know at the time that they were in a publisher’s binding.

You discuss Jessel’s motivation:

I would love to hear Jessel’s side of the story.

. . .

But it just seems a little inexplicable.  However, he apparently assumed that the books in the collection were all issued separately . . . . [Tom’s note:  This was one of the key “problem sentences” in my post.  Those titles had indeed been issued separately.  Jessel’s apparent assumption was that they had not been issued as a Cogan collection.]

. . . but I don’t find it all that odd. It seems clear that Jessel was delighted to obtain copies of the three books he lacked—Memory, Quadrille, and Whist “fifth edition”—and saw duplicates of Piquet and Backgammon. He knew from advertisements in the books themselves that Cogan sold them separately and there were no advertisements of a collection.  So he probably thought he was restoring the books to their original condition that had been bound together by a customer.  It wasn’t until his purchase of a similar volume (shelf mark Jessel f.543) in similar binding that he realized what he had done.  Even then, he didn’t completely ’fess up.  As I wrote in my blog [the following two paragraphs are from David’s blog]:

A year later, Jessel purchased f.543, with the treatises appearing in the order Whist.5, Memory, Quadrille, Piquet, and Backgammon. Having seen the earlier volume, Jessel seems much more aware of what this book was. [In his post, David quotes Jessel here.]

Of course his “separate copy” of Whist.5 and other copy of Memory were those he removed from the first book, a book which is as likely to have been issued by Cogan as this book. One wonders whether, in writing this note, Jessel regretted what he had done to the other volume.

It’s really amazing that auction records survive for these purchases along with Jessel’s notes both in the auction catalogues and in the books themselves. It was a fun story to piece together.


Were there Cogan collections of Hoyle?” by David Levy.

—Tom Sawyer

August 7, 2013

About 605 words.

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