De la Rue’s Silhouette Aces of Spades and Coloured Jokers
In around 1955 De la Rue introduced a new coloured joker and a series of aces of spades with a silhouette of Thomas de la Rue which coincided with the 125th anniversary of the granting to Thomas de la Rue of a Royal Letters Patent by King William IV for the printing of playing cards by the typographical process in 1957.
The silhouette aces of spades first appeared in c.1957 and underwent several changes in lettering and design, in particular when the three pence duty was dropped in 1960, but also including a white collar in some versions.
The coloured joker is first known in July 1955 but was subsequently replaced by a harlequin joker in 1961.
Above: Advertising deck with special ace of spades based on the conventional design, produced for Arthur Lee and Sons Ltd of Sheffield by Thomas De la Rue around 1958. The deck contains two colured jokers and a security stamp bearing Thomas De la Rue’s silhouette.
Wide sized ‘Wheel’ aces were probably made for export. They are found with or without the name printed at the foot.
Also used by Waddingtons in ‘Zodiac Club Playing Cards’ for Pepys with Goodall courts, after Alf Cooke had been bought out, with ‘Wheel’ backs, c.1972.
Above: various De la Rue aces of spades, including the ‘Wheel’, with versions of the joker, 1950s-1970. Top: DLR Wheel printed by Waddington, c.1965.
Middle row: DLR Wheel, same box as above, with Goodall & Son ace and bridge courts on wide cards, c.1956 or later.
Bottom: DLR Wheel AS with letterpress bridge courts on wide cards; APCC on gold box seal, c.1968. Images courtesy Ken Lodge.
The occasion of the 125th anniversary of the granting to Thomas de la Rue of a Royal Letters Patent by King William IV (1832) was also celebrated by the first ever
International Conference of playing card manufacturers in London in October, 1957, along with an International Exhibition of Playing Cards, an International Bridge Tournament and the printing of a specially designed pack of playing cards by Jean Picart le Doux→
De la Rue and Co. Ltd, Thomas: International Playing Card Conference and Exhibition, conference agenda and delegates’ information pack including transcripts of papers, De la Rue & Co., London, 1957
Lodge, Ken: The Standard English Pattern (second revised and enlarged edition), Bungay, Suffolk, 2010 [excerpts on www.plainbacks.com]
Thanks to Matt Probert for images and Ken Lodge for additional research.