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12: Goodall & Son

Charles Goodall & Son, 1820-1922 and beyond.

The best source of information on Charles Goodall & Son can be found in Mike Goodall's Goodall: the family and the firm, 1820-1922 (Private publication, 2000). There is a wealth of information about the people who steered the firm to becoming one of the biggest in the field, making all kinds of goods, not just playing cards. And about the patents, brands, back designs and so on. But it comes to an abrupt end in 1922 with the take-over by De La Rue. However, the name Goodall was kept as a separate entity until c.1956, even though the cards themselves were made by De La Rue, and from 1941 by Waddington. So I thought I would add more information about the post-1922 period as well.

There are also a good number of illustrated courts and ASs on Paul Bostock's website (see page 1 for the link), so I'll only give a few examples here. PLEASE NOTE: THE ERECT FEATHER ACE OF SPADES IS NOT RARE, AS SOME SELLERS TRY TO CLAIM! [See page 26 of the blog]

For a full list of my Goodall cards, click Part 1 / Part 2

As Charles Goodall was apprenticed to Hunt, it's not surprising that his first cards had Type I courts like those of his teacher.

Above: Type I courts; such cards may have been issued quite late, as the above pack has a decorative back design with a lot of gold.

The single-figure courts were redrawn c.1845-50 in a completely idiosyncratic style.

Above: G1 courts, c.1845-60

It's interesting to see the variations within packs with one type of court. The plates, colouring and pip shapes can all be different. There are two different plates for these courts: one set has a distinctive KH with heavy sideburns and there are variations on the other courts, too. Here are some examples of the differences that can be found. They all have Old Frizzle as the AS (or the export equivalent, as indicated).

Above: 1: probably the earliest version with the sideburns on the KH, no colour on the queens' head dresses and stencilled pips, c.1845. 2: no sideburns, black on queens' headdresses and elsewhere, elegant pips, c.1850. 3: no sideburns, no black on queens' headdresses, different pips on number cards, which were used up until c.1865 with other court cards, c.1860

Above: 4: no sideburns, black on queens' headdresses, late pip shape (export AS), c.1860. 5: no sideburns, black on queens' headdresses, elegant pips, c.1855. 6: double-ended version using the plates with the KH without sideburns, black on queens (QC missing), late pips, c.1860

The double-ended version used the head end of the plates twice, giving a horizontal line across the card.

Above: G1.1, c.1850-60

There was also another redrawn version of G1 and G1.1, which changed the style again. G2 has even been found in the post-Frizzle period, which might indicate using up old stock.

Above: G2, c.1858-68

After the Old Frizzle period Goodall completely redrew his courts and experimented with various types of index from c.1876 until c.1890, when they settled on the slender indices that were used for the next 10 years.

Above: Two small indices, single-ended pips, c.1876

Above: Four small indices, single-ended pips, c.1876; the '1' on the 10C was cut off in production.

Two small indices, double-ended pips, c.1878

Above: Two and four indices, cut-down courts, 1880s. (Note there are no indices on the London AS)

Above: Longer, sans-serif indices, c.1885-90

Above: The final version of their 19th century indices, c.1890-1900

Goodall took over Reynolds & Co. in the early 1880s; they produced packs with Reynolds' own courts, but also with Goodall courts and pips as well. Occasionally, they are round cornered and indexed.

Above: c.1885

A number of the early attempts at indices were used for their cards destined for the American market via Victor Mauger. They also had aces proclaiming their New York connection with no mention of Mauger.

Above: This is a euchre pack from the 1870s; note the early joker, which is a coloured AS

The pip cards from 1850 onwards can be dated fairly accurately, as I did in the case of De La Rue on page 28. Up until that date the pips were stencilled, even in those packs with courts from metal plates, as the early G1 pack illustrated above. Here are the different types:

Type F, 1850s, from the Old Frizzle period

Type 1, 1860s, introduced shortly before the end of the Old Frizzle period; the black suits, in particular, are much less elegant than the previous type

Type 1 with redrawn clubs; some time after 1862 the clubs were redrawn with more curvature and thinner stems, but the other pips remained the same as before (Type 1a)

Type 2, 1870s and 1880s, all the pips redrawn, hearts more pointed, diamonds smaller; these are found with turned courts only, as far as I am aware

Type 3, 1880s,, slightly smaller, double-ended, found with a number of different index types

The commonest version of their wide courts before the take-over by De La Rue went back to small squat indices and had redrawn pips.

Above: G6, c.1900-30. These are often misdated as from the 1890s, but since they have Limd on the AS, they cannot have been used before 1897, when the company became limited. The earliest definite date I have for these courts is 1902.

It's important to remember that designs often overlapped, sometimes by several years. The 1902 Worshipful Company pack has G5 courts, but with the later small indices, whereas the Coronation pack for Edward VII has G6 courts. In fact G5, the design used during the 1890s, survived until at least 1919, as it was used in the Pax pack marking the Armistice after WWI.

Above: The Worshipful Company special pack for the 1902 Coronation of Edward VII with G5 courts

Above: The ordinary Coronation commemorative pack for 1902 with G6 courts

Since the differences between G5 and G6 are not recognized by Mike Goodall's book, here they are on four of the courts:

Above: G5 KS no cheek crease one end; JH mouth fairly horizontal; JS collar sloping up to right; JD deep cheek crease one end
G6 KS cheek creases both ends; JH mouth turns down both ends; JS collar horizontal; JD small cheek creases both ends

The G5 courts were redrawn to a smaller format by De La Rue for their wide-size cards. After the take-over the De La Rue version was used more extensively, though the Goodall version didn't finish until c.1930. They are found with De La Rue, Goodall and the anonymous London PC ASs.

Above: Redrawn by De La Rue, c.1922-40

The plates seem to have survived WWII, since Waddington used these courts sporadically in wide cards in the 1960s and 1970s, often intended for export, such as in the Wheel brand.

Of course, no-one can know exactly when a particular pack was made in most cases and the exact start date of a particular design can't be pinpointed either, but I'm fairly certain the dates I give here (and elsewhere on the blog) are fairly reliable. In case anyone is wondering where these dates come from, the answer is a variety of sources, such as dated packs, trade sample books and a careful observation of the plates. The most obvious dated packs are those made for the Worshipful Company of Makers of Playing Cards. These provide useful information as to when particular index types were used. For example, the earliest the small, squat, rather spidery indices were used was 1901 in the WCMPC packs; these were replaced by the De La Rue redrawn courts with the larger indices shown in the previous illustration from 1922. There is no evidence that these indices were used earlier than this. In fact, there is a sub-division of these indices according to the type of Q used on the queens: the top set of courts shown above date from c.1925-30, the lower ones from c.1937-40. For more details on index types, see page 41. At the bottom of this page I've added a brief exercise on dating Goodall packs.

The London Playing Card Co. was a subsidiary company set up in c.1885. The name was taken off the AS, probably in the early years of the 20th century, but it was retained on boxes into the 1920s. The anonymized version of the AS was used by De La Rue until WWII.

Their bridge-size cards were introduced in c.1907. There are two types of index: a rather spindly type, which seems to be the earlier of the two, and a slim-line type, which was used with these courts into the 1920s by De La Rue.

The courts were redrawn in c.1918. There is evidence that this happened before De La Rue took over: the pack below is packed in a box for Poker (note, not wide) for Straker's with no postal district number (introduced in London in 1917).

Above: Spindly indices, larger frame line, c.1918

The version below with unusual indices and pips might also have been introduced by Goodall themselves, but is less certain. The courts are slightly smaller and there are minor colour differences, e.g. the JS's sleeve background is red and black in the top set, but all black in the one below.

Above: Different indices and pips

For most of the 1920s and 1930s the version of the indices and pips was as below, again with some minor colour differences:

Above: c.1922-35

Mike Goodall has kindly supplied me with scans of an interesting variation of the De La Rue-printed courts. During the 1920s they appear to have been offered with the optional addition of extra decoration outside the frame line. Whether these were ever produced we don't know, as these are from a sample book of the period. Although they are all the same, they were available in a variety of brands: e.g. Linette and Dreadnoughts.

To demonstrate the progression of the design to the current version I've put up a sequence of ten QCs dating from c.1860-1960.

Above: From the top left the approximate dates are as follows: 1860-70; 1875-85; 1891-1900; 1900-25; 1922-39; 1909-25; 1910-25; 1922-35; 1935-45; 1945-70.

Goodall tax wrappers were still in use up to WWII, some even from the time when they were independent, so they have Camden Works NW on them, whereas De La Rue printed EC on the boxes, which was the postal district of their own Bunhill Row factory. Later still the courts were reduced in size and then Waddington took over the printing in 1941 after De La Rue's Bunhill Row factory was destroyed in the blitz. A lithographic version was introduced by Waddington in the 1960s, which is still being used today in the No 1 packs. I don't think they were ever produced with a Goodall AS, but the earlier letterpress ones printed by Waddington were. You often come across early Canasta packs with Goodall ASs, even though the box says De La Rue on it. For details of the later courts and ASs, see my contribution to Paul Bostock's website.

One of the oddest Waddington printings is illustrated on page 17 of the blog. These cards were sold as Federation 575 and were a redrawing of Goodall's design with elements of their own. They were also sold as Waddington cards with their own AS as well. During the period 1942-50 Waddington's own courts were packaged with Goodall ASs in the more usual version of Federation 575. This may have occurred for reasons of economy, as all three aces (Waddington, De La Rue & Goodall) could be printed on the same sheet as the courts and could be used accordingly, as in the brands No.1, Crown and Federation 575, respectively.

Above: Three slightly different Waddington court sets from 1942-50.

An exercise in dating

Let's start with some bézique sets with the wide G6 courts illustrated above. One thing we have to take note of right at the start is that all elements of a publication of playing cards are separate entities and can be replaced at any stage of a pack's history. The most obvious item is the box: how can we be sure the box is original? Then, in a bézique or bridge set (or any other kind of package), there are other items such as score markers, scoring blocks and rule booklets. If one finds a square-cornered bézique set with a booklet dated 1929, it's certainly a replacement, no doubt as the original fell apart.
On the other hand, an early box may contain replacement cards (this often happens), so 1930s cards end up in an 1870s box. So, with these warnings in mind, we can consider the following.

Above: Goodall, 1929

Here we have an example of the late use of G6 courts with the anonymous London PC AS. The booklet could be a replacement, of course, given that the box was used for several years. One clue here, though, is that the cards are almost unused, so the necessity of replacing the booklet seems unlikely. However, the very next year we find the same courts but with an amended AS.

Above: Goodall, 1930

The box, markers and rule book are the same as in 1929, except the date has changed. Now, we know that Goodall's Camden Works was closed in 1929 and that around this time, or a few years earlier, De La Rue changed the wording on the AS from Limd to Ltd and added the words Registered Trademark. So these cards are definitely from the De La Rue period, despite their 'old-fashioned' appearance.

The content of these boxes, originally designed for wide cards, was quite varied and bridge-width cards can also be found in them. The set below comes from a few years earlier than the two above.

Above: Goodall G7 courts, c.1925

The box is the same as previously, but note that the booklet in this case refers to the Camden Works. However, we know that this, too, is from the De La Rue period, because the London postal district is given as EC1, the district of De La Rue's Bunhill Row factory and head office at the time. Camden Works were in NW. I also have external evidence that these courts were indeed still in production, despite the fact they were originally introduced before WWI, in the form of a Bestway booklet of card games dated 1924 with photographic illustrations and adverts using this court type (as well as De La Rue's version GD10).

It looks as though these earlier courts were used in particular in bézique sets in the 1920s, but they were also found in other brands. Below are an example of a pack made for Mudie's, specifically referred to as "Old Style" and an example of the Linette brand. They both have the Registered AS of c.1925 onwards, though interestingly the Linette box has NW on it, which may indicate old stock being used up.

Above: Goodall, c.1928

The registration by De La Rue of the Goodall AS seems to have occurred around 1925. The earliest dated example of it with the registration shown that I have is 1926. There are, however, packs without any indication at the top, which were presumably used after the take-over until the registration process was completed. So such packs as that illustrated below must date from 1922-24.

Above: Goodall, 1922-24

It's also the case that the De La Rue redrawing of the wide courts (GD9) was used alongside these older designs. This is particularly noticeable in the Worshipful Company packs, right from 1922 onwards, as mentioned above, but they can also turn up in the Linette brand and similar series.

Above: Goodall GD9 courts, c.1930

This time the box has EC1 on it. There is also an example of this brand made specially for the Worshipful Company of Grocers with a heraldic back design.

At the other end of the timescale of the G6 courts we have examples such as the ones below. Limd on the AS, a back design that belongs in the Edwardian period, and a maker's wrapper of the kind which did not last long into the 20th century. These are Viceroys (difficult to see on the wrapper).

Above: Goodall, c.1905

Of a similar date is the bézique set with the same courts and bicycle backs, a joker included, an earlier style of marker, and what appears to be the same box on the top, but it's actually deeper with two touching edges and a card support on each side of the inside divided unlike the later, shallower versions.

Above: c.1905

However, the Limd AS was used by De La Rue in the early days after the take-over, as is evidenced by packs in boxes advertising De La Rue's Onoto products, as below.

Above: c.1923

So, the G6 courts ran from c.1900-30, a span of 30 years. Given that various things happened to the firm and details of their playing card production changed during this period, it's quite important to try to determine which end of the timescale any particular pack comes from. A description such as "from the 1890s" is wrong and misleading; we can do better than that, so we should try.

It's always a problem when a particular court design is used for a very long period of time: we then have to rely on other indicators of date. Two particular modern examples, which may cause problems for card collectors in a hundred years' time (if there are any!), are the Waddington lithographic version of the Goodall courts, still used in the No.1 packs of today, but having been in use since the 1960s, and Carta Mundi's courts, which have also had a long life with no variation at all (boring!) and go back to the 1970s. At least when mechanical plates wore out, they had to be touched up or replaced; now the computer does it all!


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...

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