hist-games: Charles Cotton's "Compleat Gamester"

David Levy dlevy at best.com
Tue Feb 17 19:53:08 PST 1998

>Are there any other reprints of pre-1900 books on games?
>**       Christian Joachim Hartmann 

I have 1971 reprint of the Compleat Gamester which also reprints The Lives
of the Gamesters by Theophilus Lucas, 1714. It is called Games and Gamesters
of the Restoration with an introduction by Cyril Hughes Hartmann. It was
published by George Rutledge in 1930 and by Kennikat Press in 1971. Now and
then, I have seen both reprints listed on rare book sites at moderate
prices. I concur that Cotton's Gamester is a lot of fun.

I just picked The Book on Games of Chance, a 1961 reprint of the 1953
translation of Gerolamo Cardano's Liber de Ludo Aleae written about 1520,
but first published in 1663. This is a moderately intelligible work on
gambling and probability which pre-dates the Pascal and Fermat writings by
130 years. The book addresses a number of dice, table and card games,
especially primero. 

A flavor of Cardano's writing:

"On the Twofold Division of Games

"Some games use dice, that is, the play is open, and others cards, that is,
the play is concealed. Each kind is again subdivided, since some games
consist solely of chance, especially dice, and also primero and fluxus in
cards. But some join to chance the art of play, as fritillus in dice and in
cards taro, ulcus, trimphus and the like. Therefore it is established that
games consist either of luck alone, or of luck and art, and since each kind
can be open or concealed, it is clear that there are four fundamental kinds
of games among those which consist in luck, and not in bodily strength or

Any others?
David Levy
dlevy at best.com

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