[Ads-l] Jack pot

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Mon Nov 30 23:18:46 UTC 2015

Following the lead of the intriguing citations found by Peter I've
located an instance of "Jack Pots" that was printed between the covers
of a book with an 1859 copyright. The term "Jack Pots" appeared in an
appended section filled with advertisements from the publisher of the
book. However, I now suspect that the book was reprinted and the
advertising section was created at a date later than 1859.

Although this message is about a specific narrow question it may be of
wider interest to ADS list readers because it highlights a mechanism
that might lead to misdating citations.

The apparent 1866 citation located by Peter appears in the same type
of appended advertising section, and there may be some uncertainty
about its date.

Peter's 1868 citation for "Jack Pots" is in the main text of the book
and looks solid, I think.

The instance of "Jack Pots" in these citations is the name of a
specific card game; hence, the semantics differs a bit from the
definition of "jack pot" given in the OED which indicates that the
term refers to a betting pool (e.g., money or other valuables) or a
prize. The citation is useful because it helps to illuminate the
etymology of "jack pot", I think.

Here is the Oxford English Dictionary definition for "jack pot", noun
(under the entry for the word "jack", noun)

[Begin excerpt]
jack-pot n.  (a) in draw-poker, a pot or pool that has to accumulate
until one of the players can open the betting with a pair of jacks or
better; hence fig.; (also) any large prize, as from a lottery or a
gambling machine; often, a prize that accumulates until it is won; to
hit the jack-pot: to win such a prize; to have an extraordinary stroke
of luck, (b) (see quot. 1914).
[End excerpt]

Here is the metadata for the apparent 1859 citation and a set of links
into HathiTrust:

Year: 1859 Copyright
Title: Fireside Games for Winter Evening Amusement: A Repertory of
Social Recreations, Containing an Explanation of the Most Entertaining
Games Suited to the Family Circle, and Also Adapted for Social
Gatherings, Pic-nics and Parties
Publisher: Dick and Fitzgerald, New York
Page: Unnumbered page in appended advertising section

Link to the main page of the book:

Link to title page of book:

Link to page with 1859 date:

Link to page with "Jack Pots":

The publisher Dick and Fitzgerald appended an advertising section
which listed other titles the company was offering for sale including:
"Trump's" American Hoyle; or, Gentleman's Hand-Book of Games.

Here is the part of the advertisement that mentioned "Jack Pots":

[Begin excerpt]
It also contains clear descriptions of all the games played in the
United States, with the American rules for playing them; including
Euchre, Bezique, Cribbage, Baccara, All Fours, Loo, Poker, Brag,
Piquet, Pedro Sancho, Penuchle, Railroad Euchre, Jack Pots, Ecarte, .
. .
[End excerpt]

If the advertising section was created at a time that matched the book
copyright (or before) then this citation would be an antedating.
However, it seems likely that the "Fireside Games" book was reprinted
and a newly updated advertising section was appended. I have seen this
happen with other books. If the advertising section was updated then
its date of creation becomes uncertain.

I tried to determine the publication date of the book which was being
advertised: "Trump's" American Hoyle; or, Gentleman's Hand-Book of
Games. Unfortunately, WorldCat reveals that there is some uncertainty
about the publication date of the book.

The earliest edition was dated 1864 but it was a "3d ed., carefully
rev. with numerous corrections and additions". Therefore this does not
rule out an 1859 edition.

So I examined an 1864 edition of "The American Hoyle" located in
HathiTrust, and I was unable to find the section about "Jack Pots". I
think this section was added at a later time.


The term "Jack Pots" may have been added in 1868. The 1868 edition of
"The Modern Pocket Hoyle: Containing All the Games of Skill and Chance
as Played in this Country at the Present Time" in Google Books states
the following in the "Preface to the Seventh edition" (as Peter
alluded to):

[Begin excerpt]
Among the many notable changes and additions presented in this
edition, particular attention may be called to the following: The
games of Pedro, and Pedro Sancho, which are of Western origin, and
promise to become general favorites; Jack-Pots, a modification of the
game of Draw Poker, now rapidly gaining in popularity. . .
[End excerpt]

Of course, there may be divergent editions with different updates. But
based on current information the 1859 and 1866 citations for "Jack
Pots" are uncertain, I think.


On Mon, Nov 30, 2015 at 4:07 AM, Peter Morris
<peter_morris_1 at blueyonder.co.uk> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Peter Morris <peter_morris_1 at BLUEYONDER.CO.UK>
> Subject:      Jack pot
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> About a year ago, Fred antedated "jack-pot" to 1873.
> http://listserv.linguistlist.org/pipermail/ads-l/2014-December/135376.htm=
> l
> I believe I've found two earlier examples.=20
> Here is an edition of  The Modern Pocket Hoyle from  1868
> It's described as one of the changes/ additions from the previous =
> edition
> http://tinyurl.com/pq5g9mu
> And an advert for American Hoyle from 1866 .
> http://tinyurl.com/ox5o89v
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list