A further communique from David Levy regarding Frederic Jessel . . .

If there exists a fixed point that lends dignity and significance to the collecting of card-game booklets published by Goodall, and if that fixed point can be represented by a specific person, I suspect that such a person is Frederic Jessel.

Of course, Jessel’s time was long ago, and that raises an interesting question. If he were alive today, what kinds of contributions to the bibliographical literature of card games would he be making today? Would he operate a blog? Would he be contributing to this blog?

I suppose we will never know. But it seems clear that Jessel will always be the pioneer in the collecting of card-game booklets in general, and Goodall booklets in particular. For that reason it is a bit of a disappointment that so little is generally known about him.

Recently I received from David Levy further information relating to Jessel’s bibliography.

In a post not long ago, I said that, “I would speculate (but it is easy to be wrong when speculating on such things) that [Jessel’s] bibliography didn’t sell like hotcakes when it was first issued.”

David indicates that this assertion “seems to be true.”

By way of backing this up, David sent me some highly interesting information, based on microfilm of the publisher’s archives. By way of background, David quoted as follows from one of the posts on his Hoyle blog: “Business records for the Longman firm survive and were published on microfilm by Chadwyck-Healey, with a printed index (see here for one library’s description of the archive).”

David states (in an email to me): “It’s hard to read the ledger (the original microfilm is somewhat better than the PDF), but it seems that 504 copies were printed in 1905. Copies were periodically sent to NY (the imprint is London, NY, and Bombay) and the ledger shows copies on hand at various intervals for a few years: ‘395 left June 1, 1907’ for example.”

David was kind enough to send me a PDF of one of the ledger pages (the one dealing with the Jessel bibliography). David is certainly right about it being difficult to read. In addition to the 1907 date and quantity quoted by David, the ledger appears to show 397 copies on hand as of June 1, 1906. The suggestion is thus that 2 copies were sold during the period June 1, 1906, through June 1, 1907. The totals of books on hand appear to be in addition to 18 copies available in New York.

Some of it I cannot really interpret, but overall, it looks as though a fair number were shipped to New York shortly after printing, perhaps 61 copies. It looks as though one copy was sold to a purchaser in India.

I may have a few details wrong, but the basic picture is that there was an initial flurry of sales during the first year, and after that, almost nothing during the second year.

David, thank you for the information!

—Tom Sawyer

January 11, 2018

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