53: Some recent acquisitions

When I get new items for my collection, I sometimes add images and information about them to already existing pages. But I thought that it might be an interesting exercise to list some of my recent acquisitions and say why it is that I wanted to keep them in my collection.

385: As most collectors no doubt do, when I get a better copy of a pack already in my collection, I swap it for the one I already have. So this pack is a replacement for an incomplete one by Hall. It only has 32 cards, so was presumably used for piquet (too early for bézique). The KH is interesting in that his sword has been removed. This is the section which normally has the initials 'HC' carved on it, probably indicating the block-maker, Henry Crick. The pack dates from c.1812.

554a: I have other examples of this court design, which first appeared before WWI. It's a rather unusual redrawing of Goodall's standard wide courts. The idea was to introduce large indices. It was often boxed, as in this case, as '1909'. However, this pack, which came from a bridge set, has the De La Rue version of the AS with "Registered Trademark" at the top and what is the most significant card: the bridge score card with the 1935 scores for no trumps. So, this is evidence that this particular brand and design continued until WWII. This ties in with the courts I've seen at Holton Air Museum (Suffolk) with hidden maps; I wrote a short note for The Playing Card about them a few years ago.

1837: USPCC's Trophy Whist in its original version, 1895. I had one years ago, but got rid of it, so here it is again. This is an idiosyncratic redrawing of the standard design with several of the traditional features recognizable. This is No.39x, so has gold edges. Whether they were not popular, I don't know, but they soon reverted to standard courts (US1.1), but retained the large indices.

1956 And this is the replacement Trophy Whist 39x: it has different plates from the Fauntleroy patience version, c.1899.

1838: Reynolds double-ended wood-block (R4) for the Prince of Wales. I have two other examples, but this one has a post-Frizzle AS, so it was probably reissued c.1863 for the Prince's wedding. It's a nice example of old-fashioned cards still being produced when other makers had much more up-to-date designs. It's in fairly poor condition, having been attacked by damp, but will I see another one?

1845: Reynolds (mostly) Type I with Garter AS. This pack originates from c.1810. Sadly, it's a mixed pack with three of the ubiquitous Hunt HB1 courts added during the 1820s (JC & QH above).

1869 & 1870: Both packs from a bazique box from around the time the firms were getting together as NYCC (note the spelling of the game). 1869 is a close copy of De La Rue's D4.1 and 1870 is a copy of Goodall's G3. Difficult to know whether they were both originally in the wooden box together. c.1868

1891: Charles Steer is not exactly a common maker. I never thought I'd get one of these, so a well-worn, incomplete example is fine by me. They are exactly the same as the cards sold by Perry but with Steer's name on the AS. The back design is one which I have in different colours on a Whitaker export pack and is similar to one used by Lawrence & Cohen in monochrome. Steer was taken over by Willis in 1869, so these date from c.1865.

1905: Now here's a funny one! Belgian, c.1880-1900. The courts have been turned to put all pips on the left, except that someone seems to have got the instructions wrong and has turned the QH, so that her pip is on the right. The only Belgian maker I know to have turned single-figure courts is van Genechten, but the AS is one used by Mesmaekers. So this is a difficult one to work out. The courts are definitely in the style of van Genechten, even down to details such as the mark on the neck of the QC, so did they also copy the AS from Mesmaekers? The Turnhout makers seem to have copied one another as much as they copied other foreign makers, so just about anything is possible. Still, I like the quirky QH!

1907: An interesting tax-dodging pack by Woolley or Sabine. The pack includes a blank for the AS with a matching back and the pip cards are printed rather than stencilled. The courts are the same as those by Woolley & Sabine on the plainbacks site (F16). Probably from the 1840s after the partners had split in 1839.

1954 And here's one from the same blocks with an anonymous Frizzle AS

1931: Goodall for the Worshipful company, 1903. G6 courts with coloured faces, uncommon with this court design. The interesting thing for me is that 3S and 8C have been printed upside-down to the fronts (1/2 and 3/5 instead of 2/1 and 5/3). This is unusual in such an expensive pack and must indicate that the printer put those cards in the forme upside-down to the others. I have no interest in the WCMPC back designs, though some of the early ones are well produced; this particular one is a typical representation of the face of British imperialism of the period.

1935: Another tricky one! Given the back design, this could be by Catel & Farcy, though their courts are usually based on NYCC US7, not Whitman's as here. Also, there's a printing error on some of the backs: instead of 'CIE' on the flag, on some cards at one end the bottom foot of the 'E' has not been printed, resulting in 'CIF'. The pack is probably from c.1950.

1936: At last I've got one! Flemming-Wiskott No. 551 Whist-Karte, c.1930. Slightly more used than the one illustrated, but without the corners cut off.

1937: Now this is a really tricky one. Good Luck cards with Mardon on the AS and box - nothing to do with Mardon, Son & Hall! The courts have hints of Piatnik's design, so it could be from Eastern Europe, Artex perhaps, who used these squared indices in some packs. The back looks familiar (shipping line?) but I can't track it down. c.1950.

1945: An unused pack, this time by Reynolds from c.1840. The KS is missing, which might explain why it's never been used.

1946: Now here's an intriguing one! Hardy, c.1820, but only 40 cards. There are no 8s, 9s or 10s, so the pack is designed for use in games such as Ombre, which was popular at this time. It's unlikely to be a coincidence that these particular cards are missing by chance, and it's possible that they were bought in this format. A century earlier the maker Edward Warman was advertising packs intended for bassett, piquet and ombre. (See the advert below, also on page 65.)

1947: Nothing special about the HB1 courts by Hunt & Sons, but it does have a garter AS (A5, die 60, 2nd repair, c.1820) and it has gold edges. Despite the foxing, not much used.

1948: At the other end of the spectrum here's a pack in A4 size from Grafix (made in China) for use in the garden, 2019. It uses elements of traditional court card design, but not necessarily in the right order! They're too big to put all the courts up, but I thought they were fun, anyway. The AS is unusual as it's based on the one used by Obchodni Tiskarny Karty (OTK, Prague) in the 1950s-1970s.

1949 Here's an odd one I've been after for some time: a Hall & Bancks piquet-size pack with clean-shaven jacks and kings! c.1830.

1952 Another one I've known for a long time: there's one in the V&A. It would seem that when Hunt set up his own business, he was given Blanchard's old blocks (or printed stock) by Gibson, who inherited them. This pack is cut slightly smaller than the Blanchard ones, but they are narrower than those of other makers of the period. c.1790.

1953 Almost certainly by Van Genechten for Adolph Meyer, c.1865. I can only find reference to a firm of this name from the United States. Any other suggestions?

1957 When I saw this in an auction catalogue, I saw a mixed pack: Creswick CR1 courts with a Hall & Bancks AS. On closer inspection I can see that there are some differences between these courts and those of ordinary Creswick packs. The red jacks here are like those of Hall's later Type II ones, not the ones like Stone or Reynolds that Creswick uses. The colouring on some of the courts is also different, such as the order of the colours below the QH's sleeve. Again these are in the order they are in Hall's packs, not Creswick's. So what are we to make of this? I know of no connection between the two firms. The only possibility I can come up with is that Hall & Bancks bought some of the old stock or blocks when Creswick's firm was wound up in 1843. Who knows?!!

1968 A nice early Dougherty court set of an unusual design plus AS only. These are dated 1848-50 by Dawson & Dawson and on the plainbacks website there's a full pack with a fake Crehor AS (no 'e'). Dougherty used the name 'Crehor' in his early days.

1969 Another American pack, this time by Levy, 32 cards plus a joker. Again a rather unusual rendition of the standard English courts using De La Rue's D4.1 as a model, c.1860.

1970 Yippee!!!! I've got one! This is Goodall's rarest set of standard courts, G2.1 from c.1860. Just a grubby court set plus Old Frizzle, but since I only had a grubby photocopy up until now, I'm more than satisfied. These amazingly complicated designs didn't last long, though I've seen a single-ended version with a post-Frizzle AS from the period of the bézique mania of 1869-70.

1971 Another little gem. An export pack by Henry French from c.1795. His courts are like those of Hall, but they have a black outline, not blue, and the colour scheme is different.

Last Updated May 14, 2020 at 04:32pm



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