If you are new to card-game booklets, you should read this post!

It recently dawned on me that this blog tends to assume a lot of knowledge on the part of visitors, maybe to an unreasonable degree.  This that seem like common sense to experienced collectors may be completely opaque you newcomers. Collectors who have been around the block tend to assume that they were born with a lot of their background collecting-knowledge, which ain’t the case.

Elsewhere on this blog (four years ago) I mentioned how lacking in knowledge I was in my early days. Here is an extract from the relevant post:

I remember when I was all fired-up about magic-collecting, back in 1965 or so, and I received my first issue of Magicol, upon joining the Magic Collectors Association. (Note: I have not been a member for probably about thirty years now. I am not, at heart, much of a joiner, but in fact, I know a few other magic-collectors who are not all that excited about the MCA or Magicol.)

Anyway, some of that stuff was pure Greek to me. I think that first issue said something like, “Here is a list of catalogs that may have magic items in them. Is anyone in a position to check?”

And I was thinking, “What? Huh?” (They may have been things like Johnson Smith catalogs or something, which might have listed magic-tricks for sale, but I was thinking, are those museum catalogs, or what?)

I remember in one of Ed Heyl’s bookseller catalogs, at about the same time, I saw the term “ex-library” and had basically no clue as to what it meant. Maybe he should have said, “former library copy.”

I remember also that he had for sale a “partially unopened” copy of something for sale. What? I could not fathom that! Of course, many collectors probably don’t know that term (“unopened” — basically where you can’t read the book because the leaves have not been cut so as to allow that).

Of course, all that stuff seems like common sense now, but I guess it isn’t.

Now, I suppose that things move in cycles, and things that were important to collectors in yesteryear might not be such today. One thing seems clear:  If you are new to an area of collecting, you are probably clueless (relatively so) in that area. You MAY even be clueless if you have been collecting for a while.  Maybe some of you saw that episode of American Pickers, wherein Mike bought a poster showing Uncle Sam with an American flag, and a bunch of soldiers. (Here is a link to a similar or identical poster.) The seller indicated that it was a World War I poster, and  he contrasted the approach of that poster with that of a World War II poster (similar or identical to this). Honestly, what the guy said in contrasting the two did not really appeal to me, or maybe I didn’t exactly agree with it.

Anyway, recently I was discussing this with my brother (who is quite knowledgeable about posters). In trying to ID it for my brother, I said, “It kinda looked like N.C. Wyeth.”  And he basically said, yeah, he had seen that on American Pickers, and the poster was based on Wyeth art, and it was a World War II poster. Another thing, which seemed strange to both my brother and me, was that the seller mentioned that it (the Wyeth poster) was mounted on “canvas.” I would say that such terminology is FAR out of the mainstream, where you often see that certain posters are mounted on linen. (Of course, I don’t really know what that poster was mounted on.)

Well, anyway, that is all only borderline relevant.  But I do want to make a few little points here about card-game booklets — things that might not be immediately obvious to the casual observer.

First, this blog deals almost exclusively with card-game booklets that are roughly the size of a typical playing card. In other words, they are very small! Next, this blog deals almost exclusively with card-game booklets published by Charles Goodall & Son, principally during the period 1868 to 1922, though some were issued by Goodall later than that (but De La Rue apparently had some hand in those later ones). Goodall was probably the principal publisher of card-game booklets during that period, though De La Rue also issued many as well.

Elsewhere in this blog, I have discussed some reasons why I believe that the Goodall booklets are a more attractive subject for collecting, at least as far as I am concerned.

One of the things I like about the Goodall booklets is the fact that many of them were written by Professor Hoffmann, who has been one of my principal interests for decades. Also, when one immerses oneself in the subject, one finds that there are many interesting bibliographical attributes to certain booklets, some confusing and some borderline inexplicable.

The booklets vary widely in their length, some being relatively short and others being surprisingly long. If the longer ones were set in normal-sized type (instead of the tiny type that typifies most or all of them), they would make good-sized octavo books!

Another feature of the booklets is that many of them, at least during the period of main interest, have gilt edges.

As for scarcity or rarity, some of the Goodall booklets are essentially impossible to find, and may be known in only one example, or in a small handful. And I think that as to a small number, perhaps zero copies are known.  Others seem to be rather common. Among the Goodall ones that one might expect never to find are works like Ace Major and Penchant. Another rare one would be William Taunton’s booklet on Zetema, which was published by Hunt, but which (for design reasons) is of high interest to the Goodall enthusiast. (I have written about Taunton and Zetema elsewhere in this blog, based largely on information I received from Mike Goodall.)

(By the way, Mike mentioned that Taunton named a daughter Zetema.  I just ran across this web page: link.)

Among the more common booklets are works like Hoffmann’s booklet entitled Bridge. At least, it is common if one includes a consideration of all printings. I suppose I have around a ten copies of that title.

“Condition” is another relevant topic.  I’ve discussed that topic elsewhere on this blog. But the interesting thing is that a reasonable percentage of the booklets in existence are in fabulous condition, even some of the earliest ones.

Below are a few scans that may illustrate a few of the points discussed above.

Below is shown a fascinating (to me) group of early Goodall booklets by Professor Hoffmann. The top row shows first editions of Hoffmann’s booklets on Ecarte, Rubicon Bezique, and patience games. The first two are dated 1895, and the third is dated 1900.

The Ecarte booklet is a bit grubby, but beggars can’t be choosers. That is my only copy of The Game of Ecarte.

On the other hand, the Rubicon Bezique is in unbelievably nice condition. I suppose that Rubicon Bezique is of medium scarcity.  I probably have a half-dozen copies, including two copies of the first edition. This is apart from the common work consisting of a combination of that work with Camden’s work on Bezique.

The 1900 copy of Patience Games is in really nice condition. I suppose it is of medium scarcity.  I think I have two first editions and a 1901 edition. Later, material from that booklet was combined with material from a second series, and issued as Selected Patience Games.

(Now Selected Patience Games, if one is not particular about the edition, is one of the most common of the Goodall booklets. The Bodleian Library website shows [1907] as the date of presumably the first edition of Selected Patience Games, by my own earliest copy is dated 1909.)

Note that the cover designs of the editions shown of Rubicon Bezique and Patience Games are identical as far as the decorations go. They bear a familial relationship to the cover of The Game of Ecarte — not surprising, if, as appears to me to be the case (based on research by Mike Goodall and his examination of the cover of the booklet on Zetema), the designs were William Taunton designs. (See this post.) Some of the line-work (near the main heart toward the top of (e.g.) Rubicon Bezique are similar to certain lines on the Zetema cover. The booklet on Ecarte does not have such lines, but it has other features similar to the Rubicon Bezique and Patience Games covers. It’s quite possible, I suppose, that the designs are not literally by Taunton, but at least they can be said to mimic his methods.

In the bottom row are copies of Piquet and Bridge Whist. The Piquet is a fifth edition, 1902, but still it has an early cover design, which also may be by Taunton, or at least based on Taunton’s design principles. The Bridge Whist is dated 1903, and the title page shows the title as Bridge. This is presumed to be the first edition of Bridge, which was basically a much different version of the Bridge Whist booklet.


Below are the back covers of the booklets shown above.  Note that there are no two back covers shown that are identical with any of the others. Two in the top row (on the right), and one in the bottom row (on the right), are similar to each other. The one in the center of the top row has the company name with no “Ltd.” The other two with the similar designs show “Ltd.” The most recent one (the Bridge Whist or Bridge) has a slightly-more modern look, and all of the name and address information is on one line.

In certain ways, the other two backs are more intriguing, and in a sense may have been dictated by the other back-cover design features, which did not allow as much space. The back of the Piquet is especially interesting, because the trademark is squatter than on the other backs.


Well, I guess that’s enough for this post, which has reached the unbelievable length of nearly 1700 words!

—Tom Sawyer

March 3, 2017

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