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Playing cards have been with us since the 14th century, when they first entered popular culture. Over the centuries packs of cards, in all shapes and sizes, have been used for games, gambling, education, conjuring, advertising, fortune telling, political messages or the portrayal of national or ethnic identity. All over the world, whatever language is spoken, their significance is universal. Their popularity is also due to the imaginative artwork and graphic design which is sometimes overlooked, and the “then & now” of how things have changed.

42: Andrew Dougherty

Andrew Dougherty was one of the biggest American card-makers in the 19th century.

Andrew Dougherty was one of the biggest American card-makers in the 19th century, if not the biggest. After a relatively early start in a small way in 1848, at which time he produced packs of rather poor quality in terms of the cardboard he used, but which had very unusual courts, he invented and developed new methods of production and his business expanded hugely, so that in the 1870s he was producing three and a half million packs a year. Since there is a detailed description of his firm in Tom and Judy Dawson's Hochman's Encyclopedia (pp.67-80), I will not attempt to reproduce it all here. Instead I would like to give examples of the way his standard courts developed. Given his output during the last third of the 19th century, it's hardly surprising that so many of his packs have survived.

For a full list of my Dougherty cards click here

After Thomas Crehore's factory burned down in 1846, finishing his business, aces of spades with the name spelt without a final e (Crehor) were used by at least two makers: Samuel Hart and Andrew Dougherty. There are a number of Crehor packs that can be attributed to Dougherty. One of them is found with either a Crehor AS or a Dougherty one. Here the traditional postures are hardly discernible: lots of profile courts and even a full-faced QH.

Above: Crehor/Dougherty, c.1850

There is another version in which the kings and jacks are the same and the queens have taken on their traditional postures.

Above: Crehor/Dougherty, c.1850

And there is even a double-ended version in which some of the courts are based on those above, whereas others have been redesigned and look more traditional.

Above: Crehor/Dougherty, c.1850

Slightly later possibly, there is a different set of courts, which by now all have traditional postures, and which is also found with a Crehor or a Dougherty AS.

Above: Above: Crehor/Dougherty, c.1855

Some time after this he is using a variety of traditional designs, one of which comes from during his short partnership with the Coughtry brothers. It is an early version of US8, a design used later by Lawrence & Cohen.

Above: Above: Coughtry & Dougherty, c.1852

In the 1850s he also introduced packs with the old-fashioned design used in Faro packs, harking back to the wood-block and stencil era, though his were printed in letterpress. These courts were used for many years.

Above: c.1855-80

He finally settled on De La Rue's design (D3, single-ended, and D4/D4.1, double-ended) as the basis of his later packs. His copy of D3 is very close to the original and he used it in his illuminated pack of c.1865. (By this time De La Rue were producing very few single-ended packs.). Even the back design is a copy of Owen Jones's popular Cotton Plant (see page 59) made into a double-ended design with added wheat heads.

Above: Illuminated pack, USD3, c.1865

The double-ended packs were fairly crude copies of D4/D4.1 and may have been used in cheaper packs only.

Above: USD4, c.1860

The design was then redrawn in his own style: the faces then took on an appearance of the old wood-block style, which was a distinctive characteristic of Dougherty's cards at this time. They were used in all grades of card.

Above: c.1872

These courts were also used in the triplicate packs a few years later.

Triplicates, 1876-80

There are (at least) two versions: the lower one has larger indices than the other and has a turned QH. This turning moves the pip to the right to avoid the index, but it is not consistent in the pack, as the kings and JS have their pips cut into. The final version with letters as well as picture indices was produced in 1883 and the courts have been altered with all their pips on the right to accommodate the indices.

Above: Triplicate + Indicator indices, 1883

By this time the courts had had their somewhat strange wood-block faces tidied up to look more like other contemporary cards.

Above: Indicators, c.1890

A link between his wide-size courts and his later bridge cards is furnished by the Polo brand, which was made smaller than even modern bridge cards in order to facilitate holding thirteen cards. I don't know whether these courts were also used in the similar sized Jewel brand packs.

Above: Polo whist/bridge cards, c.1900

After the turn of the century the indices became bigger with consequent redrawing of the courts. Normal sized bridge cards were also introduced, which involved yet another complete redrawing.

Above: Top: Tally-Ho, c.1910. Bottom: bridge size, c.1925

These courts were not used much after the formation of the Consolidated-Dougherty division of USPCC in 1930, though there are examples from as late as the early 1950s.


By Ken Lodge

Member since May 14, 2012

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​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...