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Published January 08, 2015 Updated March 20, 2022

Rufford Playing Cards

Rufford playing cards is one of several brand names used by Boots for their stationery department, and probably the most popular.

United Kingdom De la Rue Rufford Add to Collection

Rufford playing cards is one of several brand names used by Boots for their stationery department, and probably the most popular. Rufford playing cards came in several different styles of box, ace of spades and jokers over the years, all specially manufactured by Thomas De la Rue & Co. Some editions were linen grained, some had gold edges. As a rule the back designs were decorative patterns and did not advertise Boots. Rufford refers to the estate in the village of Rainworth, near Mansfield in Nottinghamshire, the site of a coal mine named Rufford after the estate. The Boots products were named after areas of Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, so another card brand was Chatsworth and yet another was Pelham, also in Notts. Boots was based in Nottingham.


detail from Special Christmas Supplement to Boots the Chemist Christmas Gift Guide for 1926 Rufford playing cards, De la Rue Rufford playing cards, De la Rue Rufford playing cards, De la Rue

Above: examples of the earliest version of the ace of spades and joker. Most of the back designs were available in red or blue.

Rufford playing cards, De la Rue

Above: Top: earliest smaller courts (GD11) with white on QD's shoulder, c.1932-35. Bottom: large courts still with later Q-index, DLR joker and 1935+ bridge score, 1935-39. Images courtesy Ken Lodge.

Rufford playing cards, 1926-30

Above: earliest Q-index, Goodall anonymous ace of spades, c.1926-30. Images courtesy Ken Lodge.

Rufford playing cards, De la Rue

Above: Rufford boxes. Image courtesy Matt Probert.

Rufford playing cards, c.1946

Above: a print run (by Waddington) found in WCMPC packs of 1944 & 1945, so probably c.1946. Images courtesy Ken Lodge.

Rufford playing cards, c.1950 Rufford playing cards, c.1950

Above: first version of the ace of spades still in use with standard De la Rue joker, c.1950. Images courtesy Matt Probert.

Rufford ace of spades, 1950s

Above: the second version of the ace of spades, 1950s. Image courtesy Matt Probert.

Rufford playing cards,  c.1958

Above: Waddington printing with their anonymous ace of spades, c.1958. Images courtesy Ken Lodge.

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By Simon Wintle

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.


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