New Orleans: Clark & Hofeline, 1881. 64pp. 16mo. Original pebbled cloth, printed label on front board. Cloth rubbed and stained, the label chipped at the edges. Contemporary printed advertisements mounted to pastedowns, contemporary manuscript notes on rear free endpaper. Presentation inscription on verso of front free endpaper (see below). Titlepage mended along gutter. A bit of staining to the text. Very good overall. In a half morocco and marbled boards clamshell case, spine gilt. Item #WRCAM56861
The exceedingly rare first edition of one of the high spots of any poker collection, here in a presentation copy, inscribed on the verso of the front free endpaper: "Compliments of the author / to his old friend Doct. A.B. Snell / J. Abbott / Nov. 21st." This is almost certainly the prominent Louisiana physician A.B. Snell who authored an 1874 report on the yellow fever epidemic in Shreveport in 1873, and was active in the state's medical society. Abbott notes in his dedication that in 1878 he was employed a a nurse in Holly Springs, Ms., while a yellow fever epidemic was raging there, and this medical experience likely explains his connection to Dr. Snell. This copy also contains advertisements on the front and rear pastedowns for a New Orleans smoke shop and a liquor store, which were not contained in the only other copy of this title that we have handled.
"Uncle" Jack Abbott may as well have been forecasting the early 21st-century resurgence in the popularity of poker when he writes in his preface: "that Jack Pot Poker is now our National game for gentlemen." Abbott's book is a sober, soundly-reasoned assessment of the game. The lengthy preface discusses its history and variations and the main text contains a thorough description of the rules of the game - those governing players and dealers as well. Abbott refrains from laying out strategy or advice, rightly proclaiming that the beginning poker player can best learn by "bitter experience." He does offer this wisdom, however: "no unprofessional player should undertake the hazards of an unlimited [i.e. no-limit] game, unless he is prepared and able to pay heavy losses without injury to himself or his family, for there is no possible way of telling what the amount of his losses may be in the course of a year, or even in a night." The final five pages describe the rules of the rather arcane game of Sancho Pedro. OCLC locates only six copies, at the Historic New Orleans Collection, Tulane University, the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, Vanderbilt, Louisiana State University, and the Morgan Library. Rare. JESSEL 1. OCLC 17538509, 270783890.