Your Move!

Many magazines of the nineteenth century were published with paper wrappers, the purpose of which were to protect the issue as it went through the mail on its way to the subscriber’s home.  These wrappers (often on colored paper) would identify the name of the periodical.  Sometimes they would just reproduce the title page, but at other times they would be decorative with imaginative borders and illustrations.  After all, that was the first thing people would see.  That left three other wrapper pages; why leave them blank?  The publisher would often fill them up with information about the serial, notices about upcoming issues, other publications for sale, advertisements, or other pieces of information they thought relevant to the subscriber.  Sometimes the only reason we know who the editor or authors of particular articles are is because their names were printed on the wrappers.

The problem is much of this rich information was lost when magazines were bound into multi-issue volumes.  Most binders would remove the wrappers because they had served their purpose, i.e. protected the issue.  AAS has many bound volumes without the wrappers, but over the years we’ve added many individual issues (even if we have a bound volume) just for the wrappers.

Flyer for the Paul Morphy chess set bound in the back of volume 3 of Chess Monthly.

One interesting case is the periodical Chess Monthly.  It appeared between 1857 and 1861.  It was edited by Daniel Fiske and “co-edited” by the American chess champion, Paul Morphy, who in reality mostly just provided his name and contributed some annotated games.  Puzzle inventor Sam Loyd also edited some of the chess puzzles.  The wrappers of Chess Monthly contained information such as the names of the editors and advertisements for chess paraphernalia such as books and chess boards, but they also contained the answers to the chess problems published in the previous month’s issue.  So you can see the problem of the chess problems.  When the issues were bound, the wrappers (and the solutions) were removed and thrown away.  Fortunately, the publisher provided a separate title page, index, and solutions to the problems after a volume was completed.  This material could be combined with the issues when they were bound, but sometimes the binder didn’t include them.

Here are the problems that appeared in Chess Monthly for volume 3, January through April 1859.  See if you can solve the puzzles and share your answers in our comment section.  Like the wrappers in our bound volume, solutions are not to be found here.

Published by

Vincent Golden

Curator of Newspapers and Periodicals, American Antiquarian Society

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