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.











No comments:

Post a Comment