What is the best way to organize a bibliography of card-game booklets?

What is the best way to organize a bibliography of card-game booklets?

This is just a rhetorical question, and I don’t want to impose on anyone by asking for any real answers, but I’ll set forth a few of my own views. Then, in a future post, I hope to describe generally the manner in which Frederic Jessel arranged his bibliography, and his arrangement is not something that is particularly easy to discern!

I’ll start out by saying that the two methods which seem most appropriate to me for a bibliography of works on card-game booklets would be:

a. By title. This would not necessarily work well, though, in part because some works by the same author appeared under more than one title (with, occasionally, cover titles that differ from title-page titles), or may have had revised editions that resulted in (a) significantly different books, (b) different titles, or (c) both. Possibly even worse, it is foreseeable that many booklets by several different authors will have the same or similar titles.

b. Chronologically, with each basic work considered in its own group.  Putting it another way: chronologically, according to date of first appearance, and then according to chronology for all editions of that title. Thus, if you were taking about Professor Hoffmann’s conjuring books, the first title would be Modern Magic.  All editions of that book would be listed chronologically through the 1870s, 1880s, 1890s, and so forth. Then after all those, one would list the editions of Card Tricks Without Sleight of Hand (first edition, [1877]). This, too, is an imperfect way of proceeding.

So, actually, neither of these methods is very good, at least in the absence of thorough indexing, and of course even the most comprehensive indexing will not cancel-out the problems.

While the chronological method works pretty well (especially when dealing mainly with one, or maybe two or three, authors), and also gives an idea of the progression of an author’s work, it, too, falls apart when one starts looking at significantly revised works (example:  Hoffmann’s Bridge Whist, which evolved into Bridge), combined works, works of significantly varying character (example: Jessel shows the earliest edition of one of Cavendish’s works being a card), piracies, possible weird items of perhaps little significance, and so on.

And whether one is following the “title” method or the “chronology” method, it would appear to me that one would need to cover foreign editions separately, and then there would be more than one way of segregating the foreign editions.

Another category of works, which could include both domestic and foreign works, is that of translations. Of course, one way of dealing with such works would be to omit them from consideration.

Actually, I think that it is impossible to state a best arrangement until one knows pretty closely what is going to be included in the bibliography.

For my forthcoming book on Professor Hoffmann’s card-game booklets, I think I will deal with them chronologically (or pretty much chronologically, because I do not believe that I will be dealing with dating more specific that the year). That is, for instance, there were four Hoffmann booklets published in 1895.  I will probably deal with those four in alphabetical order, rather than worry about the nuances of their exact sequence of publication during 1895.

And I expect to cover (to some extent!) mainly the early editions, which are not numerous, so it should be convenient to deal with one title (including multiple editions regardless of the span of dates) before going on to the next.

The foregoing is not intended as a comprehensive analysis of the situation!

—Tom Sawyer

March 12, 2017

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