Brief History of Alf Cooke’s Playing Cards
British Playing Cards • Universal Playing Card Company Limited • Alf Cooke Limited
Alf Cooke was an important producer of playing cards and card games in the UK during the period 1920-1970. The company had been founded in 1866 by Alf Cooke, in Leeds, as a general printer. During the years 1920-25 playing cards were produced under the name of British Playing Cards with unusual court card designs which may have been a forerunner of Universal Playing Card Company Limited who commenced producing playing cards in c.1925. There is some stylistic similarity between the two.
With a growing range of products including Crown Point and Club De Luxe, the Universal Playing Card Co. Ltd became the sole supplier of playing cards to Woolworths under the New Bond and Pictorial brand names. They also produced standard and luxury sets with gold edges for the stationery and cigarette card markets, including the stationer and importer L.G. Sloan. The court cards were printed in either 3 or 4 colours, red, yellow and black, or with the addition of blue, see example →
Alf Cooke Limited, with Universal Playing Card Co as a subtitle, appeared on the Aces of Spades from around 1955 onwards, until the business was taken over by the Amalgamated Playing Card Company Ltd, that was then a subsidiary part of Waddingtons, in 1971. The stock and machinery were transferred to Waddingtons and the production of Alf Cooke playing card brands and court card designs ceased. Over the years, Alf Cooke Limited produced a colourful range of standard English playing cards with many art-deco style pictorial back series, fortune-telling and tarot cards, as well as card games for children and adults.
Aces of Spades and Jokers 1925-1970
Member since February 01, 1996
Founder and editor of the World of Playing Cards since 1996. He is a former committee member of the IPCS and was graphics editor of The Playing-Card journal for many years. He has lived at various times in Chile, England and Wales and is currently living in Extremadura, Spain. Simon's first limited edition pack of playing cards was a replica of a seventeenth century traditional English pack, which he produced from woodblocks and stencils.
A limited edition art print of the King of Diamonds 1984 woodblock joker.
A limited edition art print of the Jack of Hearts 1984 woodblock joker.
A limited edition art print of the Jack of Clubs 1984 woodblock joker.
A miniature set of Goodall domino cards (5.9 x 3.5 cms) still in perfect condition.
“1952-2002 commemorative deck” customised with doodles by an uncredited artist, UK, 2011.
“Playing Politics ’10: With no expenses spared” featuring caricatures by Oliver Preston, published b...
Playing Politics ’92: Pack of lies with caricatures by Grant Robertson, UK.
Facsimile of Winstanley’s Geographical cards produced by Harold & Virginia Wayland, 1967.
Great inventions playing cards designed by Gary Wyatt, United Kingdom, 2011.
Festive courts on a Waddingtons pack designed to celebrate Christmas 1980.
‘Gone to Pot’: special playing cards for keen gardeners, United Kingdom.
Roy Huteson Stewart's The Tarot Strikes Back combines Star Wars with Rider-Waite tarot imagery.
“Don’t come back” playing cards produced by Hounslow NHS Primary Care Trust and Feltham Young Offend...
Randy Butterfield's House of Tudor playing cards feature detailed art in a high-quality collectible ...
Katie Abey’s rainbow-coloured designs using crazy animals to convey motivating phrases.
On-line offsite data backup publicity playing cards produced by The Bunker, United Kingdom, c. 2004....
54 different dinosaurs, both large and small, illustrated by Cecilia Fitzsimons.
Commemorative Olympic Playing Cards produced by Waddingtons exclusively for Stanley Gibbons Antiquar...
Clamcleats playing cards for sailors designed by Celia Allison, New Zealand, 1986.
“Around the world in 54 cards” hand-coloured transformation pack produced by Peter Wood, United King...
Jessel’s Bibliography of works in English on Playing Cards and Gaming describes “The first book on P...
Characters from The Broons and Oor Wullie comic strips on their 75th anniversary.
A catalogue in 54 cards of some of the treasures held within the Museum of London collections.
The first company to register Bezique materials with Stationers’ Hall was Josh Reynolds & Son in Sep...