I've had a copy of Hoppus' Practical Measurer (1863) on my shelf for years. Other than the pretty engraving in the fontispiece, I've never really looked carefully at it. 200 odd pages of tables is not a particularly fascinating read on any given day. For anyone not familiar with Hoppus, this book was in print for over 100 years. Anyone who needed to know solid content or superficial content of a three dimensional thing or a two dimensional surface could take some basic measurements and look up the answer in Hoppus. Timber, glass, plastering, painting, iron and so on could be referenced here. For the math challenged, Hoppus was clearly the thing to own.
By chance I came upon a copy of Hoppus from 1777. This tenth edition held a surprising bit of information at the very end of the book. Hoppus saw fit to include a set of prices for a variety of nails, brads and hand tools, including augers, hammers, saws, axes and so on. Hardware such as bolts, hinges and locks are delineated with care. Luckily for me (these are nearly impossible to scan or image due to the size and bindings), and you, Google has copies of various years in their ever-expanding quest for world domination of books. (1738 ; 1777 ; 1837).
The 1738 and 1777 editions have identical price lists. Either the prices of goods didn't change, or Mr. Hoppus didn't bother to check. On a related topic, there was a long standing battle between Edward Hoppus and Isaac Keay. Keay published a Practical Measurer in the 1700's. I have the 1764 edition. Hoppus goes to great length to disparage Keay's work while Keay only notes, in brief, the dastardly attacks by Mr. Hoppus. Even by the 1863 edition of Hoppus, there is an attack upon the veracity of Keay.
Editions by Keay are quite rare. Hoppus remained in print for decades and can be found in numerous book sellers listings for reasonable sums. Yet Keay continued to publish editions for at least a decade. Going out on a limb, I have the following suspicions:
- Hoppus succeeded in destroying the reputation of Keay, hence the relative scarcity of Keay's title.
- Hoppus had better financial backing for marketing his title.
- Keay published a better book than did Hoppus. Keay's titles are scarce as they were heavily used and did not survive intact. Hoppus was not as well liked and survived through simple lack of use. Sort of like the Stanley #444.
- Hoppus' publishers owned the rights to the title and pushed it for more years than could Keay.
- Keay became tired of the ongoing conflict, ceased publication and moved to sunnier climes (than the British Isles). When last heard of, he was rooming with Jimmy Buffett on Keay West.
Till next, Gary