Wednesday 17 April 2024

Recent Auctions part 7 - C. Seward, and Dubuque Problem Tourneys

Here are two more rare items from the Klittich-Pfankuch auction held in November 2023:


Courtesy of Klittich-Pfankuch auction 85


Lot 1156. An Introduction to the Knowledge of the Game of Chess, Accompanied by a Portable Chess-Board, Calculated for the use of Learners, by C. Seward, Lancaster 1816. 8°  40pp. (Portable chess-board lacking)


Now this is extremely rare, extreem zeldzaam, extremadamente raro, extrêment rare, sehr selten, estremamente raro!   

This book is not recorded in any of the following major chess bibliographies or catalogues:

Cochrane J.- A Catalogue of Writers on the Game of Chess, in his Treatise, 1822.

Walker G.- Bibliographical Catalogue, in The Philidorian, 1838.

              - Idem, in A New Treatise on Chess, 1841.

              - Idem, in The Art of Chess Play, 1846.

Oettinger E.- Bibliothek des Schachspiels, 1844.

Schmid A.- Literatur des Schachspiels, 1847.

Linde A. van der- Geschichte und Literatur des Schachspiels, 1874.

                       - Idem, Das Erste Jartausend der Schachlitteratur, 1881.

Lasa T. von der- Sammlung von Schriften über das Schachspiel, 1896. 

Quaritch B.- Catalogue of Rimington Wilson books, 1929.

Koninklijke Bibliotheek- Bibliotheca van der Linde-Niemeijeriana, 1955.


Furthermore, I have never seen this work in any of the hundreds of dealers, auctioneers or collectors catalogues that I have examined and I have never seen this mentioned in any chess book.

It appears that this was first recorded in 1964 when the Cleveland Public Library published its Catalog of the Chess Collection (John G. White Collection). 

Chess Texts printed before 1850, by Ken Whyld and Chris Ravilious, published by Moravian Chess in 2000, records this little work on page 79, item 1816-2, but with very limited information. Seward's book is not mentioned in Ken Whyld's earlier list of Chess Texts printed before 1850 which was issued as one of his regular series of Christmas gifts*, in 1999, but this was discovered on a subsequent trawl of sources including the J. G. White Collection. 

*This series was gathered together and published as Chess Christmas by Moravian Chess in 2006.

The only recorded copy of this book is in the J.G.White Collection in Cleveland (also lacking the chess-board), and the copy sold by Klittich (from Lothar Schmid's library) is probably only the second known copy of this work.

I would be very pleaseed to hear of any other copies, in which case I will amend this article appropriately.

This short work of just 40 pages "Calculated for the use of Learners" is presumably a basic beginners guide with content of limited interest. However, the rarity of this item pushed the sale price up to €320.


Courtesy of Klittich-Pfankuch Auction 85


Lot 1127. The Dubuque Chess Journal Problem Tournay, edited by O. A. Brownson Jr. Dubuque Iowa.  

Another rare publication.

This lot (which sold for €260) included the first three of the Dubuque Chess Journal Problem Tourney publications, with rules of entry and problems 1 to 75. Betts 32-8 (and the auctioneers) state that there were six publications in this series issued from 1871 to 1886. Klittich-Pfankuch sold a copy of the composite volume mentioned in Betts for €200 in 2005.  But there were more.

One of the greatest 19th century collectors of chess literature, Tassilo von Heydebrand und der Lasa,  also had the booklets for Tourney 7 (1889) and Tourney 8 (1890) in his collection which is catalogued in Erneutes Verzeichniss meiner Sammlung von Schriften über das Schachspiel, Wiesbaden 1896.


The New York Public Library online catalogue gives details of the Book of Tourney 8 from Brownson's Chess Journal, published in Rockdale, Ia, in 1890. pp iv, 206-224; while Princeton University Library records Book of Tourney 9 from Brownson's Chess Journal, Rockdale, Ia, 1890. pp 225-256.

Cleveland Public Library has the full set of the nine Tourney publications while the Koninklijke Bibliotheek appears to have nos. 1 to 6 only.


Brownson Jr. playing chess with his wife


It is difficult to find information on Orestes Augustus Brownson Jr. - Although he was the editor for 22 years (on and off) of the Dubuque Chess Journal and its variants, also publisher of the Book of the Second American Chess Congress held at Cleveland, Ohio, December 1871, and authored a number of chess problem books from 1876 to 1889,  he is, surprisingly, not mentioned in any of the chess encyclopedias, lexicons or dictionaries. Jeremy Gaige does, however, list him in his Chess Personalia with birth and death dates of 1828 and 1892. 


Courtesy of Cleveland Public Library


The online catalogues of the New York Public Library and the Princeton University Library give his lifespan as 1803 to 1876. Even the Koninklijke Bibliotheek specifies 1803-1876 in the details for some of Brownson's works published in the 1880s.

They are all confusing our Orestes Augustus Brownson Jr. with his father Orestes Augustus Brownson, born 1803, died 1876, the preacher, activist and noted catholic convert and writer, who, for a while, lived in Ithaca N.Y. where his eldest son O.A. Brownson Jr. was born in 1828. 

Brownson Jr. had an adventurous spirit and sailed the world for a number of years in his early life. This, no doubt, inspired the engraving on the title page of the first volume of the Dubuque Chess Journal.


However he also had a thorough collegiate education and eventually gained a professorship. He moved to Dubuque, Iowa, in the early 1860s and was principal of the First Ward School from 1863 to 1878, and later the Dodge Street School. Prof. Brownson was a tireless worker in the cause of education and did much to advance the schools in his city. He eventually retired to his farm at Key West where he continued to produce his chess publications right up to his death, from heart failure, in April 1892. (This information is adapted from the obituary notice in the Dubuque Daily Herald for 30th April 1892.)

Timothy Harding also provides some details on Brownson Jr. in his article American Magazines of the 1870s and 1880s on pages 160 to 163 of British Chess Literature to 1914, Jefferson, N. Carolina 2018.

Back to these problem tourney publications; there are no digital copies but the following images are from Tourney Six which is bound at the end of my composite volume of the Dubuque Chess Journal containing issues from 1870 to 1888.











Saturday 6 April 2024

Handbuch des Schachspiels

Before continuing with the recent rarities at auction I will elaborate on J. K. Hanshew's final comment at the end of his Good Bye! on page 464 of the last issue of The Maryland Chess Review (see previous post). 


Hanshew had announced that a translation of the Handbuch des Schachspiels was "already well advanced" in the January 1875 issue of The Maryland Chess Review on page 16 and gave the following details:


On page 118 of the March 1875 issue Hanshew informed a correspondent that the translator of the Handbuch  was E. A. Kunkel, a contributor to the magazine.


In April Hanshew stated that the first part of the translation was nearly ready and re-iterated that there would be 10 parts available to subscribers only.

Nothing more was heard from Hanshew and it is a pity, although not surprising, that this ambitious project was not completed. Kunkel launched (with others) The American Chess Magazine, published in Hartford, Connecticut, in April 1875 but this lasted for just two issues.

However, one part of the translation was published and this is referred to by von der Lasa in his Erneutes Verzeichniss meiner Sammlung von Schriften über das Schachspiel distributed in 1896.


From page 76 of Sammlung von Schriften:

and from page 160:

The title of the only part issued was A Translation of the 5th ed. of the Handbuch des Schachspiels, translated by E. A. Kunkel, Frederick, Md 1875.

Cleveland Public Library, Princeton University Library (Eugene B. Cook Chess Collection) and University of Wisconsin-Madison Library (Cutter Colection) have copies of this, stating 44 pages and containing only the Allgaier gambit and Center or Northern gambit.    



Friday 5 April 2024

Recent auctions Part 6 - Maryland Chess Review and The Amateur Chess Magazine

Two rare periodicals from the November auction of Klittich-Pfankuch:


Lot 1289  The Maryland Chess Review, edited and published by J.K. Hanshew, Frederick, Maryland, 1874 to 1875. 


Courtesy of Klittich-Pfankuch auction house


There has been some confusion over the extent of this periodical. Betts' Annotated Bibliography states Vol. 1 - Vol. 2 (No. 1-15), January 1874 - December 1875: No more published. 

Di Felice follows this in Chess Periodicals, but shortens the final date to March 1875 (i.e. 15 monthly issues from January 1874 to March 1875).

The current lot included the 12 issues of volume I and issues 16 to 20 of volume II up to August 1875, and I note that a University Place Bookshop catalogue from the 1930s included a run of this magazine up to issue 21.

However, two full years were completed with the final double issue nos. 23 & 24 for November and December 1875, and fortunately the whole lot has been digitized and is available at 

John G. White gave the full details of this magazine in the second of his articles on American Chess Periodicals on page 252 of American Chess Magazine Volume II, December 1898. 


The Cleveland Public Library and the New York Public Library have full sets of this magazine, the latter copy from the Frank J. Marshall Chess Collection. The Royal Library at the Hague seems to have the 12 issues of volume I and the first three issues only of volume II; perhaps this is where Betts was misled.


Courtesy of Klittich-Pfankuch auction house


This was a substantial and interesting magazine; the first volume numbered 500 pages while the second volume had 464. Each issue featured a number of annotated games, many problems and considerable reading matter in the form of educational articles, Chess Intelligence, Answers to Correspondents, Prominent Chessers, reviews of contemporary magazines, etc. A small amount of Draughts was added at the end of each issue. 

Despite the name, this was an international magazine with content drawn from the American continent and Europe.



A rare magazine which hardly ever comes on the market and this incomplete set sold for €550.


The Amateur Chess Magazine, edited by James T. C. Chatto and published by W. W. Morgan, London, 1872 to 1874.


This Monthly Miscellany of Genaral Literature survived for just over two years from June 1872 to June 1874; from 1873 the publishing frequency became erratic and from May 1873 the title changed to The Amateur reflecting the greatly reduced chess content. 


Compared to the previous item, The Maryland Chess Review, this is a disappointing chess magazine with a gradually diminishing chess content until it was almost non-existent. The content of the 12 page issues (later issues covering two or more months had extra pages) was of limited interest to chess players; often with just one game and a few problems, including some of Chatto's own compositions, before moving on to the literary matter of charades, conundrums, double acrostics, stories etc. 

There were also some brief notices of contemporary chess magazines and Chatto declared that The Dubuque Chess Journal was "without a single exception, the most complete and altogether best journal that has yet come under our notice." Later magazines included correspondence and controversy over some plagiarised chess problems and other puzzles that had been published in The Amateur. 

The editor, James Thomas Chipperfield Chatto is, however, of some interest and Timothy Harding has carried out extensive research on him which he published in British Chess Literature to 1914, McFarland, Jefferson 2018. Chatto was barely 18 years old when he  launched The Amateur Chess Magazine and discontinued this shortly before he joined Cambridge University in the Michaelmas term of 1874. Chatto, who was ordained into the Church of England in 1879, also edited several chess columns during his life, but not always with great success. 

Although the magazine lasted for just over two years there were only 13 issues; six in volume I, five in volume II and two in volume III. The later issues covered two, three or even four months; there were 224 pages in total.

The first magazine included chess only, but this was gradually replaced over time with other games, puzzles and humdrum literary articles and stories. The last two issues had just 6 pages of chess between them out of a total of 48 pages, and the magazine was discontinued without notice in June 1874, although future articles had been promised.

In the June-July issue of 1873 Chatto announced that the chess department of The Amateur would in future be conducted by R. W. Johnson of Lancaster. 

It seems that both Cleveland and KB are lacking the final issue of this periodical, KB does not even record Volume II for 1873 in its online catalogue. This is surprising as at least four complete sets have been sold at auction over the last 10 years (all from the dispersal of Lothar Schmid's collection), at varying prices from €150 (bargain) to €540, so both of these major libraries could have completed their holdings.  

This particular copy is from the Rimington Wilson library and each volume is bound separately in contempory half leather, unlike the other copies which are bound in one book. Each volume is signed by J. W. Rimington Wilson (no hyphen) and this lot sold for €460.



It appears that only volume I and the issue for February 1874 have been digitized, and these are available at google books.


More rarities next time.