03 May 2019

Five Volumes of 'Chess Monthly'

In last week's post, Early American Chess Periodicals, I used machine translation to understand an article from the August 1861 edition of Schachzeitung. Here's an excerpt:-

Recently, the American [Chess Monthly] has an equally thorough, as detailed compilation of all the leaves of their land brought the chess more or less have reciprocated extensively and permanently. We see that in all, 87 newspapers play our games, if only temporarily, were interested. Present are of course, it was only about eleven, which continued [to bring] a column over the chess; they are the following: [...]

Hoping to find the original article in English, I went back to Google Books to locate copies of Chess Monthly and found five volumes (1857-61, v01-05). The title pages for volumes 01 & 02 are shown below.

Left: 1857, v01; Right: 1858, v02
Bottom: Bookplate

The bookplate, which was also in the Google scans, says, 'Ex Libris : Dr. M.Niemeijer'. I mentioned Niemeijer in Chess Sources for Google Books (April 2019), because his book collection is one of the sources for the Koninklijke Bibliotheek (KB) in The Hague. As the image above shows, the title page for the 1857 annual volume (v01) of Chess Monthly was handwritten, as was the general index for the entire year. I assume that it is Niemeijer's handwriting.

Both title pages mention Paul Morphy and D.W. Fiske as editors (plus 'Problem Department by E.B. Cook'), although the handwritten page indicates that Morphy's name was added later. In a recent post on my World Championship blog, Early Chess Periodicals (April 2019), I noted a strong connection between those periodicals and the early history of the World Championship:-

The year in brackets ('[]') is the year of the periodical's first publication. That is followed by the name(s) of someone who played a role both in the early years of the periodical and in the early events now considered to have been forerunners ('Unofficial events') of the World Championship. [...] Labourdonnais, Staunton, and Anderssen are all accounted for. St.Amant played two matches against Staunton.

Now we can add Morphy's name to the list, although it's not clear what role he actually played in the publication of Chess Monthly. I'll tackle that another time.

The last volume of Chess Monthly (1861, v05) also has a title page and general index written in Niemeijer's hand. The title page includes the note, 'Five numbers only were published from January to May when the issue ceased.' The first article in the May 1861 edition is the English language source of the Schachzeitung translation. Now we can see how close the translation is to the original (spoiler alert: it's not very good).

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