The games we play mirror the world we live in. Produced to meet the ever-changing needs of consumers, children's games directly reflect the popular fashions, society and politics of the time. Vintage card games offer a key-hole view of social history, nonetheless interesting for being from the sidelines.
Animal Grab card game by Thomas De La Rue & Co., 110 Bunhill Row, London. Long before our awareness of endangered species or environmental activism became topical issues, these Victorian playing cards for children foster awareness of farmyard and countryside animals, inviting players to mimic the animals' characteristic calls.
The founder of Ariel Productions, Philip Marx, was a prolific publisher of children’s books and comics towards the end of and just after the Second World War.
Belisha, published by Castell Brothers Ltd (Pepys Games) in 1938, was produced with a desire to make a helpful contribution to the national Safety First campaign.
Black Peter card deck for children printed in Riga during World War II, believed to have been designed by a Latvian artist.
British Towns Card Game by Pepys Games (Castell Brothers Limited).
Children's games are distinct from ordinary playing cards, with their most obvious difference being the lack of any court cards or suit marks.
A “Questions & Answers” family game from France produced by Imagerie Pellerin.
A Victorian card game telling a story of a victim being ensnared in a trap, being caught, and finally escaping.
Chad Valley Happy Families, 1914
Change for a Shilling card game by Geo. Wright & Co., London, 1930s
Cheery Families card game designed by Richard Doyle and printed by De La Rue & Co., Ltd, c.1890
Mini-Poker miniature playing cards made in China.
Miniature children's playing cards depicting popular heroes and celebrities on the backs, Montevideo, c.1928
Chitrashala Press produced some charming children's pictorial alphabet cards for early learning purposes in the 1940s.
Animals Quartet playing cards printed for Cigarrillos El Figaro, Peru, early 1900s
Jaques’ Counties of England card game
The Cow and Gate Happy Family game was issued around 1928 to promote nutrition products
Juegos de Cartas Cromy card games made in Argentina 1983-1995
cards from a 40-card children's "Questions and Answers" game. The Spanish suit signs have been changed to tambourines, yo-yos, swords and skittles. Printed lithographically in Cuba, c.1930.
Dartex, the Thrilling New Card Game of Skill (1938) based on the traditional pub game where darts are thrown at a circular target. The card game version contains a total of 52 cards (38 showing a dart board + 14 special cards) which act as the throws and, just as in the real game, good mental arithmetic is required.
Disney playing cards from Peru
First published in c.1870, children are presented in these miniature Patience cards disguised as Kings, Queens and Jacks. The Kings' crowns are slightly over-sized for their heads and the children are wearing false beards.
El Negrito Pedro, children's card game, Buenos Aires, Argentina, c.1940s
El Reloj card game by Imprenta Lecaros, Lima, Peru, c.1920
The Famous Five Card Game by Enid Blyton
Ferguson Happy Families card game was produced by Ferguson Electronics and printed by John Waddington Ltd in c.1960.
Globe Trotters follows the journey of a group of travellers who depart from Genoa by ocean liner and sail to the Orient for the ultimate travel experience.
Gnau, a Norwegian Card Game
The Golden Egg Card Game, anonymous manufacturer, c.1860
A card game commemorating the first round the world flight by the Graf Zeppelin, published by J.W. Spear & Söhne, Nuremberg, in 1930
Happy Families is probably one of the most popular card games ever invented, with educational benefits relating to sorting and matching of sets, as well as early literacy and elementary genealogy, flowers or bird identification, etc.
The “Game of Happy Melox Families” was published by G. Clarke & Son of Thomas Street, London, in 1929
Hee Trading Co., Malaysia, manufacture board games, jig-saw puzzles, chess sets, games compendiums as well as card games such as Happy Families, Donkey and Snap.
Jaques' Illustrated Proverbs, c.1885. The complete proverb is printed along the top of each card in the set. Opportunity Makes the Thief shows that the problem of pickpockets was rife. The Victorian period was marked by great change, prosperity for some with poverty and misery for others.
Jacob Wolfe Spear founded his company manufacturing fancy goods in 1879 near Nuremberg in Bavaria, Germany
Jack of all Trades card game
Snap, the Old Original Game, has captured the imaginations of children for over a century!
John Jaques & Son (established in 1795) published a large range of popular parlour games, many of which have become classics.
Judaism is the oldest of the great monotheist religions, parent of Christianity and Islam.
Kamarát miniature toy playing cards from Czechoslovakia
Kay Snap Children's Card Game, made in England, 1930s. Nine sets of four identical cards showing common trades of the era, all male and wearing their traditional garb, including the Coalman, the Butcher, the Milkman, the Draper and the Policeman.
cards from an early 'Gnav' game made by C.L.Keiblinger, Copenhagen c.1860
A collecting game published in two series: the first series featuring Western Europe and the second series Eastern/Southern Europe. The city cards are beautifully illustrated with coloured engravings, whilst the Key cards depict national flags.
The beautiful images in this quartet game published by Jeux Spear in 1933 depict the progress of transport and travel since early times up til the 1930s
Pictorial trade cards were becoming popular throughout Europe so that tea, tobacco, chocolate or even beef extract were the commodities most associated with beautifully lithographed insert cards.
C. W. Faulkner & Co. Ltd were prolific card game manufacturers over a period of around 50 years, c.1870-1920. Little Folk Misfitz
“Marché 7 Familles” Happy Families card game published by France Cartes
This “Jeu de Sept Familles” was produced by Mauclair Dacier in the late 19th century.