This summer, I began reprinting Spalding’s Football guides for the years relevant to the Carlisle Indian School football program through Tuxedo Press. Carlisle played intercollegiate football from 1893 to 1917 (a 1918 schedule was arranged but never played due to the closing of the school). These books contain a plethora of information useful to historians and rabid fans. Originals are expensive and fragile, factors which limit their utility. Inexpensive paperback reprints that can be abused are much more practical for non-collectors.
Reprinting these books has been more complicated than expected. When someone asked me if a particular book was the eastern or western edition, I couldn’t answer him. Not only didn’t I know, I couldn’t tell by looking at the book. Looking at other years’ editions didn’t help either. David DeLausses, administrator of cfbdatawarehouse.com, has a nearly complete collection of Spalding Football guides but didn’t know how to tell the eastern and western editions apart. He did know that Spalding started printing the two editions in 1906. Prior to that, Spalding published a single edition covering the entire country.
I bought an original 1917 Spalding guide but couldn’t tell which edition it was and found no one who could. While preparing the 1917 book for publication, I noticed a small E on the front cover in a white block just below a drawing of players running a play (see below).
Thinking the E might designate Eastern Edition, I emailed David DeLausses to get his opinion. As luck would have it, he was away from home on a business trip and, thus, couldn’t check against his copies. Upon his return, after looking at his guides, he responded,
“This is a great find. From 1911-1918 Spalding Guides I can see either an “E” or a “W” on the front cover. My 1917 Guide has a W. I will be first in line to get a copy of your 1917 “E” version.
I did not see similar markings for other years than 1911-1918. I will have to spend some time looking closer.”
We still don’t know exactly what the differences in the two editions are, but comparing the two 1917 editions page by page should shed some light on this mystery.