The World of Playing Cards Logo
Published March 01, 2016 Updated March 14, 2022

46: Henry Hardy, Henry French & Christopher Groser

A brief look at some makers of whom we know little.

United Kingdom Groser Hardy

In addition to the makers named in the title there are two makers who had registered aces, none of whose court cards have survived. These are: Thomas Lee, mentioned in the registration of aces 1802 and listed at 42 Fetter Lane in 1805; and John Bassil, listed in 1815 in the aces register. According to Mike Goodall in his book on the family firm, Bassil was based at 5 Lisle Street, Leicester Square, the house next door to Goodall's, who started in 1820. Whether the latter took over the former is not known. At least in the case of the other three, we have some examples of their cards to enjoy.

Henry & Sarah Hardy

Henry and Sarah were husband and wife and had a son called Henry, who joined the business with his mother later; it seems that Sarah took over for a while, probably after the death of her husband. They started in 1784 at 7 Old Bailey until the business went bankrupt in 1801. The firm is still listed at Snow Hill until 1804. Their surviving cards are interesting in that the court design is not like that of any other maker, but whether they had their own block-maker is not clear.

Above: Henry Hardy courts from the 1790s with an AS registered in 1800, so near the end of the life of the business.

The couple's younger son, James, set up a separate business in 1798 and took over the Old Bailey premises for a short while in 1805-06. (See: page 32)

Henry French

Henry French was also short-lived; he operated from 1794 to 1805 at 11 Broad Street, Bloomsbury. His extant cards are of a standard design and have the HC mark on the KH's sword. In the known examples he used Type II courts, with various colour schemes. The JS has a flat-bottomed sleeve, the QH sometimes holds a tulip and the KD sometimes has vertical lines at the bottom of his tunic (left above his leg). Other makers who used similar blocks in this period are Hunt, Hall, Gibson and T. Wheeler.

Above: another pack by French (A5 on plainbacks), no tulip, usual design above leg on KD

Christopher Groser

An even shorter-lived maker, as far as the records tell us, he operated from 1796 until 1802 at 5 Brook Street and then 14 Prince's Street, Cavendish Square. Maxted lists him at Brook Street in 1792, but he only appears sporadically in the directories of the period. The cards below are six of nine cards with a Groser AS from before 1801. Who made the cards is not clear, but see below for another pack that is complete.

There's also another pack (below), from the Albert Field collection, with a Groser AS but, sadly, although it is complete, most of the courts are by Hunt from c.1825 (HB1 courts). The KS and the two red jacks match a Reynolds pack I have from c.1815, so none of the courts are original Groser cards.

In April 2018 another complete pack with a Groser AS was auctioned in England. The courts are at least consistent in this case, but on close analysis they are almost certainly by Gibson. The colour distribution is the same as on Gibson's cards of this period, e.g. A8 on plainbacks and my 338, and some of the courts are from the same blocks as in those two packs. Does this mean that Gibson made cards for Groser, or is it yet another example of a secondhand pack with an AS added to one of Gibson's to make up the pack (or to cheat the tax collector)? It's quite likely that Gibson made cards for Groser at this date, as they were near neighbours, in the same way that later Hall and Hunt, near neighbours in Piccadilly, seem to have helped each other at times (eventually they amalgamated) and in the 1930s Universal helped Waddington, both of Leeds, by printing some of the packs for the Wills scheme.

I'm most grateful to John Sings for providing good quality scans of the courts.

For comparison here are A8 and 338, both by Gibson.

A8

338

avatar

By Ken Lodge

Member since May 14, 2012

View Articles

​I'm Ken Lodge and have been collecting playing cards since I was about eighteen months old (1945). I am also a trained academic, so I can observe and analyze reasonably well. I've applied these analytical techniques over a long period of time to the study of playing cards and have managed to assemble a large amount of information about them, especially those of the standard English pattern. Read more...


Leave a Reply

Recommended

1970 Grand Slam

Grand Slam

Limited edition gift set issued to mark the American Bicentennial, 1776-1976, produced by John Waddington Ltd and the Bristol Pottery for the British American Bicentenary Group, 1970.

1975 Waddingtons Nursery Rhymes

Waddingtons Nursery Rhymes

Nursery rhyme playing cards by Waddingtons, Leeds, UK, 1975.

2001 South Park Playing Cards

South Park Playing Cards

South Park characters and famous one-liners, by Carta Mundi for Hasbro Int. Inc., 2001.

1980 Pentacards

Pentacards

A five-suited set of playing cards published by Fleet and Case Games Ltd., Rainham, Kent, UK, c.1980.

1960 Souvenir Views of Scotland Playing Cards

Souvenir Views of Scotland Playing Cards

52 selected views of Scotland by De La Rue (Waddingtons) for GlenAlan Ltd, Glasgow, Scotland, c.1960s.

1911 The Jovial Cards

The Jovial Cards

Publicity items for a group of entertainers, Southend-on-Sea, Essex, UK, 1911.

1930 Waddington’s “Silkette” Playing Cards

Waddington’s “Silkette” Playing Cards

Cards made by John Waddington Ltd. for the Madras Club, Chennai (formerly Madras), India, c.1930.

2002 Highland Hospice

Highland Hospice

54 different personalities from the city of Inverness published by the Highland Hospice.

2017 Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Edinburgh Festival Fringe programme covers from 1956 to 2016 published by Winning Moves UK Ltd.

2010 Cape Wrath

Cape Wrath

Images from the Ministry of Defence Cape Wrath Training Centre, Sutherland, Scotland. Published 2010.

2014 Vesalius Anatomy Card Game

Vesalius Anatomy Card Game

Celebrating the work of Andreas Vesalius in the quincentenary year of his birth.

2005 Team GB

Team GB

Great Britains’s Olympic gold medallists from 1964 to 2004 published by the British Olympic Association.

2015 David Kindersley Centenary

David Kindersley Centenary

Celebration of the work of David Kindersley, stone letter-carver and typeface designer. Published by the Cardozo Kindersley Workshop, Cambridge, UK, 2015.

2003 Official England Rugby Playing Cards

Official England Rugby Playing Cards

Pack celebrating the rugby world champions of 2003. Produced by MMcardz.

1705 Royal Cards Reign of Queen Anne

Royal Cards Reign of Queen Anne

“Royal Cards Reign of Queen Anne” cover historical events, both honourable and treacherous, during the period 1702 to 1704.

Hall & Son

Hall & Son

Hall & Son

1850 Fortune-Telling Cards

Fortune-Telling Cards

Comic Fortune-Telling Cards published by Reynolds & Sons, c.1850.

1850 Comic Question & Answer cards

Comic Question & Answer cards

Comic Question & Answer cards by Josh. Reynolds & Sons, circa 1850.

1824 Myriorama

Myriorama

Myriorama of Italian scenery, 1824.

1870 Transformation Cards for Christmas

Transformation Cards for Christmas

Hand-drawn Transformation cards, c.1870.

Playing Cards: A Secret History

Playing Cards: A Secret History

Playing Cards: A Secret History

Sergeant-Major

Sergeant-Major

Sergeant-Major card game devised by W.G.Smith

Rex Pitts (1940-2021)

Rex Pitts (1940-2021)

We are deeply saddened by news of the passing of Anthony Rex Pitts (1940-2021).

Pepys Games

Pepys Games

The Story of Pepys Games by Rex Pitts

J. W. Spear and Sons

J. W. Spear and Sons

Jacob Wolfe Spear founded his company manufacturing fancy goods in 1879 near Nuremberg in Bavaria, Germany

Chad Valley Co. Ltd

Chad Valley Co. Ltd

Chad Valley Co. Ltd (incorporating Johnson Brothers (Harborne) Ltd, the long-established UK brand bought by Woolworths in 1988 and now sold at Argos.

Multum in Parvo Co., Ltd

Multum in Parvo Co., Ltd

Multum in Parvo published a range of indoor games during the period from 1884-1927.

1954 Ariel Productions Ltd

Ariel Productions Ltd

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.

Kum-Bak Sports, Toys & Games

Kum-Bak Sports, Toys & Games

Kum-Bak Sports, Toys & Games MFG Co., Ltd, London S.E.11

1950 Crazy People

Crazy People

Crazy People children’s card game illustrated by caricaturist and graphic artist Walter Trier, c.1950.

1912 Panko

Panko

Panko (Votes for Women) suffragette card game published by Peter Gurney Ltd, c.1912.

Snap

Snap

Anonymous Snap game, 1930s.

Panto People

Panto People

Panto People published by E. S. & A. Robinson, c.1930s.

Hats-Off!

Hats-Off!

Hats-Off! miniature card game published by E. S. & A. Robinson, c.1930s.

1930 Zoo-Boots

Zoo-Boots

Zoo-Boots published by E. S. & A. Robinson, c.1930s.

1875 XIXth Century

XIXth Century

The XIXth Century published by John Jaques & Son, c.1875.

The ‘Rinker’ Snap

The ‘Rinker’ Snap

The ‘Rinker’ highly amusing snap game, c.1910.

Round the World Happy Families

Round the World Happy Families

Round the World Happy Families by Chiefton Products Ltd of Bristol, c.1950s.

Abbatt Animal Families

Abbatt Animal Families

Abbatt Toys Animal Families, c.1970.

1930 French for Fun

French for Fun

French for Fun instructive card game published by John Jaques & Son Ltd., c.1930s