Saturday, 23 December 2017

A. J. Souweine Part 2

Further Souweine observations on books in his library.

Marshall's Chess "Swindles", New York 1914: "This work is probably the most entertaining and useful of Mr. Marshall's chess books."

Renowned for his so-called "swindles", Marshall actually gave this book its title to hit back at some of his vanquished opponents who had derided Marshall's play following a loss. In his Introduction Marshall described himself "as the least bookish of all international players" and explained his book title as follows:

Another scarce collection of Marshall's games is Modern Chess in Championship Play, New York 1923. This book is not recorded in either Betts' Bibliography or the 1955 L/N catalogue. The book includes the games from Marshall's match with Edward Lasker in 1923 for the United States Championship (Edward Lasker covers this match at length and gives his viewpoint on the games in his book Chess Secrets, New York 1951),  and Marshall's games from the ninth American Chess Congress held at Lake Hopatcong also in 1923.

Souweine comments "300 copies of this book have been printed from type and the type distributed. We understand that no copies of this book were offered for sale, but were used as prizes for the victors pitted against Mr. Marshall in simultaneous play." Most copies of this book are inscribed by Marshall.  

The Book of the First American Chess Congress, by Daniel Fiske, New York 1859. "The sketch of the History of Chess and particularly "Incidents in the History of American Chess", and the Bibliography, makes this book of the greatest interest and importance to chess lovers." 

Book of the Second American Chess Congress, held at Cleveland, Ohio, December 1871, Dubuque 1872. "This, one of the rather crudely printed Brownson productions, is probably the scarcest of the American Congress Books."

The Third American Chess Congress, held at Chicago, Ill. 1874, Hannibal, Mo. 1876. "Quite a scarce book, of which Will H. Lyons, formerly America's most extensive dealer in chess books is quoted as saying "The scarcest of the American Chess Congress Books", but the writer (A. J. S) holds the opinion that the 2nd American Chess Congress book is (at least now, in 1938) scarcer of the two. Dale Brandreth has added a note "I have to agree with Lyons based on my own experience".

Brandreth twice refers to the rarity of the Third American Chess Congress book in his pamphlet Collecting Chess Tournament Books - A Fascinating Hobby, published in 1977, but he excludes this from his list of the great classics in tournament books "on the basis that the competition was weak" (Mackenzie won ahead of Hosmer, Judd, Bock, Congdon and Perrin).

The Third is definitely the scarcer based on the frequency (or infrequency) with which it appears on the market and the prices obtained. However there is a complication in that some of the Second Chess Congress books have portraits pasted in of Max Judd and Theodore M. Brown making these copies more desirable and scarce.

The Book of the Sixth American Chess Congress, by Wilhelm Steinitz, New York 1891. "Without question the finest of the American tournament books." 

Souweine's collection also included a little known pamphlet of 14 pages published in 1887 entitled To the Subscribers of the proposed American Chess Congress and to American players generally. This was issued in an effort to prevent Steinitz from becoming the editor of the proposed Book of the Sixth American Chess Congress "because of his previous vulgar writings in the International Chess Magazine."

Souweine had all six of Franklin K. Young's peculiar chess books and notes that his final work Field Book of Chess Generalship, New York 1923, is the scarcest of Young's books. 

This is probably the most interesting of Young's works with a long introduction (albeit, riddled with errors) by A. B. Hodges, in which he gives brief details of the early history and literature of the game, before discussing Morphy, Pillsbury, Steinitz, Zukertort, Lasker and Capablanca. The book also includes a selection of games played by A. B. Hodges with critical [but normal] notes by Lasker, Steinitz, Gunsberg and Hodges.

Young starts the Preface to this book with a tacit admission that no one has understood a word of his previous five books:

But he immediately launches into his unintelligible babble-speak in the second paragraph:

However, the section on Hodges' games with annotations from Lasker & co. is perfectly readable.

Incidentally, the biography of Hodges by John S. Hilbert; Albert Beauregard Hodges: The Man Chess Made, published by McFarland in 2008, did not excite Nigel Short who had this to say at the end of an article on Rapid Chess on page 53 of New in Chess 2014-1: 

Finally for now, Souweine had many of the Alain C. White Christmas Series of problem books including Retrograde Analysis by T. R. Dawson and W. Hundsdorfer, Leeds 1915, which he described as very scarce, and Roi Acculé aux Angles, Paris 1905, on which he observed: "This and the Robert Braune Collection are no doubt the scarcest of the A. C. W. books."  


Many thanks again to Owen and Kathleen Hindle for use of their library and for many of these illustrations.

Monday, 18 December 2017

A. J. Souweine, chess bibliophile

Arthur Jacob Souweine (born on Christmas Day, 1872) was a New York chess book dealer in the 1920's and 1930's. He was also a good chess player with a peak Edo historical chess rating of 2213 in 1901, and a keen problem solver; he edited the Problem Section in Alfred Klahre's 1931 book Chess Potpouri.

Souweine had an impressive chess book collection, and in 1938 he produced a catalogue with detailed descriptions of every item. The catalogue lists 667 books, not large by today's standards, but he had many rare and interesting books.  The catalogue was probably not published, but in 1989, Dale Brandreth published a facsimile and I give below details of many of the items that partularly interested me. Souweine gives a fascinating pre-war insight into collectible chess books giving brief opinions on many of these and, often, his assessment of their scarcity. 

This catalogue is not recorded in the standard bibliographies, presumably because it was not originally published, but Betts, L/N and Aucta all list Chess Books for Sale by A. J. Souweine, New York, undated but circa 1928. This catalogue of 187 items is also mentioned in A Letter to Bert by Bob Meadley, implying that it was a catalogue of Souweine's own collection, but it is a list of books for sale.  

The catalogue produced by Brandreth has no title page or any introductory matter, there is simply a footnote on the final page as follows:

Here is a typical page from the catalogue:

Souweine owned many early chess books from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries including Lambe 1764, Wahl 1798 (another early history of chess), Barbier 1672, Ruy Lopez 1584, Vida 1566, 1736, Bertin 1735, Greco 1689, Stamma 1745, Abraham Aben Ezra 1743, Lolli 1763, Weickhmann 1664, Selenus 1617, Philidor 1749, 1762, 1773, 1777, Société d'amateurs 1775,  but made few remarks on these works apart from describing the condition of each book.  

Marache's Manual of Chess by Napoleon Marache, originally published in New York, 1866. Souweine had the common later black cloth reprint noting that the original edition "had a fancy pictorial wrapper":

The Elements of Chess by Julius Du Mont, London, 1925. "A very valuable work for the chess student. Modern work, already out-of-print and scarce." A revised edition was published in 1956 with the collaboration of Leonard Barden.

Elements of the Game of Chess, or a new method of instruction in that Celebrated Game, etc. by William Lewis, Teacher of Chess, revised and corrected by an American Amateur, New York 1827.  The phrase "revised and corrected by an American Amateur" has always intrigued me. Who was the American Amateur competent enough to revise and correct Lewis's original edition of 1822? There were virtually no known American chess book authors before the 1840's, most of the dozen or so chess books published in America before 1840 being reprints of works originally published in England. This anonymous amateur also added a code of Revised Laws which had been sanctioned by the New York Chess Club. See Benjamin Franklin and Chess in Early America, A Review of the Literature, by Ralph Hagedorn, Philadelphia 1958.

The Chess Player, Illustrated with Engravings and Diagrams etc. George Walker, William Kenny etc. Boston 1841.  "Beautifully engraved frontispiece. This excessively rare edition has both 1840 and 1841 dates." Whyld & Ravilious 1841:2 confirms that title pages were printed with both dates but they were both published in 1841.

Chess Made Easy by George Walker, Baltimore 1837. This is one of many books in Souweine's collection from the Rimington Wilson sales and he remarks that on a slip of paper pasted to a fly leaf in this particular book is written: "Perhaps the only copy of this scarce reprint that has been offered (1928) in London for many years". The original edition was published in London in 1836: 

and a New Edition was published in 1850 which included twelve of Walker's own games:

Chess Made Easy by George Walker, Baltimore 1839. "Curiously enough, this later edition is far scarcer than the 1837 one."   

Analysis of the Game of Chess by A. D. Philidor etc., Boston 1826. "This is a particularly scarce item, the last 1,000 copies having been destroyed by fire". However, Whyld & Ravilious 1826:7 states "1,000 copies printed, of which some were destroyed by a fire in the publisher's warehouse". Nevertheless, one of many works on chess that have apparently been destroyed, burnt, sunk, pulped or otherwise lost, thus increasing their scarcity. A subject about which I hope to write soon.

Chess Studies and End-Games, by Bernhard Horwitz, London 1884. Souweine states that his copy includes a frontispiece portrait of Horwitz, noting that there are also copies without the portrait. Indeed my copy does not have the portrait but Owen Hindle's copy does include this fine illustration.

Collection of Chess Studies, by A. A. Troitsky, Leeds 1937. "Even without mentioning the beautiful printing and clear diagrams, this book is undoubtedly one of the best books on end games and should afford almost indeterminate pleasure and usefulness to the reader."

Practical Chess Grammar, by William Kenny, London 1817. "The fine engravings are a veritable feast for the eye and a joy to the collector." 


Morphy Gleanings, by Philip Sergeant, Printing Craft, London 1932. Souweine makes the curious comment "this is the original edition and not the cheap pirated edition of McKay Co. Philadelphia"   Is the Mckay edition inferior to the Printing Craft edition? I am surprised that this reputable publishing house produced cheap pirated editions of any work.

More from Souweine's catalogue next time.

Many thanks to Owen and Kathleen Hindle for access to their library and for many of these illustrations.

Monday, 4 December 2017

A. Klittich-Pfankuch auction

The bi-annual sale by the German auction house A. Klittich-Pfankuch took place on 23rd and 25th November and included over 800 chess lots in the following categories:

The 258 page printed catalogue gives extensive descriptions of every lot, interspersed with many illustrations, and every item is fully illustrated in the online catalogue.

While there were not as many rare early chess works as in some previous auctions, many interesting lots went under the hammer. The Schachmemorabilien section included six beautifully bound volumes of manuscript chess problems formerly owned by Antonius van der Linde, and which he used in his important works on the history and literature of the game. These unique items sold for a total of €5,300 and, fortunately, they all went to the same buyer so that the collection stays together.

Highlights in the Schachautographen section included a postcard from Bogoljubow to the Schachklub Bad Kreuznach from 1950 which sold for €100, and a postal envelope from Bugojno 1980 with the signatures of Karpov, Larsen, Timman, Ljubojevic, Polugaevsky, Ulf Andersson, Hort, Kuvajica, Ivkov, Tal, Kavalek and Gligoric. This sold for €200.

The bottom copy of Wolfgang Uhlmann's scoresheet for his game against Bobby Fischer in Buenos Aires, 1960 made €300 while one of the 500 signed first editions of Reuben Fine's Basic Chess Endings, Philadelphia 1941, sold for €150, and it didn't have the dust-jacket.

Several other signed items sold for high prices confirming the popularity of chess autographs and memorabilia.

There was nothing outstanding in the Schachgraphik section - top lot was three lithographs dated 1837 which sold for €75.    

In the Bibliographien section a group of chess book catalogues from Schach-Verlag Bernh. Kagan dating from the 1920's and 1930's sold for €100.

In the Deutsche Schachbücher section lot 812, Festschrift zum Vierten Kongress des Bayer, 1913 sold for €240.

Lot 844, Schachwerke des Verlags Kagan, Band I - III, (three volumes of the chess works from the publisher Kagan incorporating around 25 pamphlets) 1914-1925, fetched €210; and lot 867, Sammlung der Endspielstudien, Moscau 1914, a book of endgame studies by the brothers Vasily and Mikhail Platov with parallel German and Russian text sold for €240.

There were several scarce English works on offer including lot 900: History of the Norfolk & Norwich Chess Club, 1836 - 1936, by P. H. Bannock, Norwich 1936, which sold for €44; lot 910: The Philosophy of Chess, by William Cluley, London 1857, €180.

Lot 947, The Caduceus, by John Keeble, Norwich 1910 sold for €74 and lot 956: A Selection of Games at Chess, played at the Westminster Chess Club between Monsieur L. C. de la Bourdonnais and an English Amateur [Alexander McDonnell], by William Lewis, London 1835 made €400.

Lot 971: four volumes of The Chess Digest, by Mordecai Morgan, Philadelphia 1901-1905, €100; lot 973: Morphy's Games of Chess, by Thomas Frère, New York 1859, €130; and lot 997: The Chess Player's Instructor, by Charles Stanley, New York 1859, €120. However, several other 19th century chess books sold for just €20 to €30.

A feature of the auction was the large number of A. C. White's Christmas Series books offered for sale. 37 books in various languages were sold representing 27 different titles. (There are 44 books in the Christmas Series plus two Supplements). Prices ranged from just €15 for An English Bohemian: A Tribute to B. G. Laws, up to €150 for the two volume set Les Mille et un Mats Inverses, and €180 for 200 Bauernumwandlungs-Schachaufgaben. As usual it was the earlier books in the series that fetched the higher prices.

Another item of interest was lot 926: The Gentleman's Magazine: Or, Monthly Intelligencer for September 1733. 

This contains the essay Of the Game of Chess which was first published in The Craftsman for 15th September 1733. On 21st September 1733 a pamphlet was published, at Slaughter's Coffee-House, entitled A Letter to The Craftsman, on the Game of Chess, in response to this essay, and in 1734, Lewis Rou wrote a manuscript in New York with the title: Critical Remarks upon the Letter to the Craftsman, on the Game of Chess. Daniel W. Fiske borrowed this manuscript from Dr. George Henry Moore, librarian of the New York Historical Society in the 1850's, but it subsequently disappeared and became known as the Lost Manuscript of Lewis Rou. Fiske published a booklet with that title in Florence in 1902.

If this manuscript ever existed it would have been the first ever treatise on chess written in America, pre-dating Benjamin Franklin's Morals of Chess, the generally accepted first discussion of chess written or printed in America, by over 50 years. This item sold for only €10.

Two scarce early French works; Élémens Théoriques et Pratiques du Jeu des Échets, by Louis Hocquart, Paris 1810, and Cinquante Parties Jouées au Cercle des Échecs et au Café de la Régence, by L. Kieseritzky, Paris 1846, sold for €210 and €200 respectively.

Two variants of The Book of the Cambridge Springs International Tournament 1904, published by Fred Reinfeld's Black Knight Press in New York 1935, achieved good prices. The paperback edition sold for €80 while the cloth bound edition made €160.

Other tournament books in demand included lot 1148: Das zweite internationale Schachturnier in Karlsbad 1911, two volumes, Potsdam 1912, €160.

Lot 1156: The Chess Tournament, by H. Staunton, London 1852, €200.

Lot 1179: The Book of the Nottingham International Chess Tournament 1936, by W. H. Watts, London 1937, €160 (again, lacking the dust-jacket); lot 1185: Traité des Échecs et Recueil des parties jouées au Tournoi International de 1900, by S. Rosenthal, Paris 1901, €220.

Lot 1201: Im Land der Nussknacker, by Carsten Sicora, 2015, €170; and a collection of 101 of A. J. Gillam's booklets in his Rare and Unpublished Tournaments and Matches series sold for €420.

The Zeitschriften section included various volumes, but not complete runs, of American Chess Bulletin from 1905 to 1935, variously sold for €55 to €130; The British Chess Magazine, 1900 to 1955, all around €40; Deutsche Schachblätter, 1922 to 1940, €44 to €100; Deutsche Schachzeitung, 1864 to 1939, €15 to €160; Deutsches Wochenschach (und Berliner Schachzeitung) 1893 to 1916, €180 to €130; Oesterreichische Schachzeitung, 1873 to 1875, €50 to €440 for 1875; Tijdschrift van den Nederlandschen Schaakbond, 1902 to 1946, €15 to €160; and Wiener Schachzeitung, 1898 to 1937, €15 to €78.  But perhaps the most interesting items were the fourteen bound volumes of the chess columns from Münchner Neueste Nachrichten from 1889 to 1902. These beautifully bound rare chess columns sold for between €100 and €340 per volume.

Top price in the periodical section was €500 for the 24 individual issues, in original wrappers, of The International Chess Magazine for 1890 and 1891. 

All prices quoted exclude the buyers premium of 15% and tax of 7%. 

The auction was admirably conducted by Karl Klittich, ably assisted by his hard-working staff, and all 800 lots went under the hammer in about four hours.  This included internet bidding which slowed down the process occasionally, and you certainly have to be on your toes as many lots are sold in under ten seconds. The auction house extends excellent hospitality to its patrons with refreshments provided throughout the day.

Many thanks to the the auction house for permission to use the above illustrations.

The next auction will be held in June 2018.