The World of Playing Cards Logo
Published August 03, 2015 Updated October 09, 2022

De la Rue’s 125th anniversary

In around 1955 De la Rue introduced a new coloured joker and a series of aces of spades with a silhouette of Thomas de La Rue which coincided with their 125th anniversary

1957 United Kingdom De la Rue Aces History Joker Add to Collection

De la Rue’s Silhouette Aces of Spades and Coloured Jokers

In around 1955 De la Rue introduced a new coloured joker and a series of aces of spades containing a silhouette of Thomas de la Rue. This coincided with the 125th anniversary of the granting to Thomas de la Rue of a Royal Letters Patent by King William IV for the printing of playing cards by the typographical process in 1857. The silhouette aces of spades first appeared in c.1957 and underwent several changes in lettering and design, in particular when the three pence duty was dropped in 1960, but also including a white collar in some versions. The coloured joker is first known in July 1955 but was subsequently replaced by a harlequin joker in 1961.

De la Rue’s standard ace of spades with the new coloured joker, c.1955

Above: De la Rue’s standard ace of spades with the new coloured joker instead of the earlier black and white version, c.1955.
See also: New Zealand Shipping Company, c.1955Royal Snowdrift Oil, c.1955

Above: Advertising deck with special ace of spades based on the conventional design, produced for Arthur Lee and Sons Ltd of Sheffield by Thomas De la Rue around 1958. The deck contains two colured jokers and a security stamp bearing Thomas De la Rue’s silhouette.

Black & White Cigarettes, c.1957

Above: De la Rue’s silhouette ace of spades with three pence duty and the new coloured joker for Black & White Cigarettes, c.1957.
See also: Ben Line Shipping3M Company3M Company with special jokerBritish Road ServicesAmerican Express

Federation playing cards with export version of De la Rue’s silhouette ace of spades

Above: export version of De la Rue’s silhouette ace of spades with the coloured joker, 1957-60.

British Gas Council, c.1962

Above: De la Rue’s silhouette ace of spades with the three pence duty removed and the harlequin joker for the British Gas Council, c.1962.
See also: R.M.S. Windsor CastlePneumatic playing cards, c.1960-65Society playing cards, c.1965Steels Garages, c.1966

Erskine Motors (Gosport), c.1962

Above: De la Rue’s silhouette ace of spades with the three pence duty removed and the harlequin joker for Erskine Motors (Gosport), with security stamp bearing Thomas De la Rue’s silhouette, c.1962.

Advertising deck for Senior Service by De La Rue, c.1965

Above: advertising deck for Senior Service cigarettes with De la Rue’s silhouette ace of spades with a white collar, c.1965.

De la Rue’s silhouette ace of spades with a white collar, c.1965-69

Above: De la Rue’s silhouette ace of spades with a white collar, c.1965-69.  See also: Henderson Derrick Cranes

De la Rue’s silhouette ace of spades with a white collar, c.1965-69

Above: De la Rue’s silhouette ace of spades with a white collar, c.1965-69. Tha ace gives the address as ‘London’, whereas the quality control slip gives the address in Leeds.

In 1969 De La Rue sold out to Waddington's, who then became Britain's leading playing card manufacturer.

‘Wheel’ Playing Cards

Wide sized ‘Wheel’ aces were probably made for export. They are found with or without the name printed at the foot. Also used by Waddingtons in ‘Zodiac Club Playing Cards’ for Pepys with Goodall courts, after Alf Cooke had been bought out, with ‘Wheel’ backs, c.1972.

Above: various De la Rue aces of spades, including the ‘Wheel’, with versions of the joker, 1950s-1970. Top: DLR Wheel printed by Waddington, c.1965. Middle row: DLR Wheel, same box as above, with Goodall & Son ace and bridge courts on wide cards, c.1956 or later. Bottom: DLR Wheel AS with letterpress bridge courts on wide cards; APCC on gold box seal, c.1968. Images courtesy Ken Lodge.

NOTES

The occasion of the 125th anniversary of the granting to Thomas de la Rue of a Royal Letters Patent by King William IV (1832) was also celebrated by the first ever International Conference of playing card manufacturers in London in October, 1957, along with an International Exhibition of Playing Cards, an International Bridge Tournament and the printing of a specially designed pack of playing cards by Jean Picart le Doux

Go to next page

REFERENCES

De la Rue and Co. Ltd, Thomas: International Playing Card Conference and Exhibition, conference agenda and delegates’ information pack including transcripts of papers, De la Rue & Co., London, 1957

Lodge, Ken: The Standard English Pattern (second revised and enlarged edition), Bungay, Suffolk, 2010   [excerpts on www.plainbacks.com]

Thanks to Matt Probert for images and Ken Lodge for additional research.

avatar
1,432 Articles

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.


Related Articles

Woodblock and Stencil Queen of Clubs

Woodblock and Stencil Queen of Clubs

A limited edition art print of the Queen of Clubs 1984 woodblock joker.

Woodblock and Stencil King of Diamonds

Woodblock and Stencil King of Diamonds

A limited edition art print of the King of Diamonds 1984 woodblock joker.

Woodblock and Stencil Jack of Clubs

Woodblock and Stencil Jack of Clubs

A limited edition art print of the Jack of Clubs 1984 woodblock joker.

Woodblock and Stencil Jack of Hearts

Woodblock and Stencil Jack of Hearts

A limited edition art print of the Jack of Hearts 1984 woodblock joker.

1904 Miniature Card Dominoes

Miniature Card Dominoes

A miniature set of Goodall domino cards (5.9 x 3.5 cms) still in perfect condition.

1875 T. Drayton & Son

T. Drayton & Son

Bezique and Whist boxed sets by T. Drayton & Son, London, c.1875.

2011 Colour doodle deck

Colour doodle deck

“1952-2002 commemorative deck” customised with doodles by an uncredited artist, UK, 2011.

2020 Alice in Wonderland: we’re all mad here

Alice in Wonderland: we’re all mad here

Alice in Wonderland themed playing cards, UK, 2020.

2023 Wren 300 playing cards

Wren 300 playing cards

Papercuts by Chloe Campbell of the 52 Wren churches in the City of London.

2023 Marlow playing cards

Marlow playing cards

Visitor attractions and businesses to be found in Marlow, Buckinghamshire.

2010 Playing Politics 2010

Playing Politics 2010

“Playing Politics ’10: With no expenses spared” featuring caricatures by Oliver Preston, published b...

1992 Playing Politics ’92: Pack of lies

Playing Politics ’92: Pack of lies

Playing Politics ’92: Pack of lies with caricatures by Grant Robertson, UK.

2005 B-Deck

B-Deck

“B-Deck” scurrilous playing cards poking fun at a former UK prime minister.

1967 Winstanley Geographical cards

Winstanley Geographical cards

Facsimile of Winstanley’s Geographical cards produced by Harold & Virginia Wayland, 1967.

1986 Artist’s Aces of Spades

Artist’s Aces of Spades

Artist’s Aces of Spades deck published by Robert Billingsley, USA, 1986.

1971 Meal Tub Plot

Meal Tub Plot

Meal Tub Plot playing cards [facsimile] with 17th century sketches by Francis Barlow.

Golf playing cards

Golf playing cards

Golf playing cards published by Marks & Spencer, UK.

2011 Great inventions playing cards

Great inventions playing cards

Great inventions playing cards designed by Gary Wyatt, United Kingdom, 2011.

1980 Christmas 1980 playing cards

Christmas 1980 playing cards

Festive courts on a Waddingtons pack designed to celebrate Christmas 1980.

Gone to Pot: Gardener’s playing cards

Gone to Pot: Gardener’s playing cards

‘Gone to Pot’: special playing cards for keen gardeners, United Kingdom.

2023 The Tarot Strikes Back

The Tarot Strikes Back

Roy Huteson Stewart's The Tarot Strikes Back combines Star Wars with Rider-Waite tarot imagery.

Tottering-by-Gently

Tottering-by-Gently

‘Tottering-by-Gently’ playing cards with cartoons by Annie Tempest.

1990 Sally Ferries Euro playing cards

Sally Ferries Euro playing cards

Sally Ferries Euro playing cards and phrase pack, United Kingdom.

Don’t come back

Don’t come back

“Don’t come back” playing cards produced by Hounslow NHS Primary Care Trust and Feltham Young Offend...

1998 From Empire to Commonwealth

From Empire to Commonwealth

Flags, locations and admission dates of 52 Commonwealth countries.

2023 House of Tudor

House of Tudor

Randy Butterfield's House of Tudor playing cards feature detailed art in a high-quality collectible ...

75: Early American cards

75: Early American cards

An overview of some of the early cards made in the United States.

2020 The Pack of Positivity

The Pack of Positivity

Katie Abey’s rainbow-coloured designs using crazy animals to convey motivating phrases.

2004 On-line offsite data backup

On-line offsite data backup

On-line offsite data backup publicity playing cards produced by The Bunker, United Kingdom, c. 2004....

2002 The Famous Dinosaurs Playing Cards

The Famous Dinosaurs Playing Cards

54 different dinosaurs, both large and small, illustrated by Cecilia Fitzsimons.

1980 Commemorative Olympic Playing Cards

Commemorative Olympic Playing Cards

Commemorative Olympic Playing Cards produced by Waddingtons exclusively for Stanley Gibbons Antiquar...

2015 Dorset Dialect Trails

Dorset Dialect Trails

‘Dorset Dialect Trails’ playing cards, United Kingdom, 2015.

1986 Clamcleats playing cards

Clamcleats playing cards

Clamcleats playing cards for sailors designed by Celia Allison, New Zealand, 1986.

2008 Around the world in 54 cards

Around the world in 54 cards

“Around the world in 54 cards” hand-coloured transformation pack produced by Peter Wood, United King...

2008 The Journey

The Journey

‘The Journey’ limited edition playing cards produced by Peter Wood, UK, 2008.

Pretty Frills

Pretty Frills

‘Pretty Frills’ playing cards promoting curtain and blind accessories.

1859 The Origin of Patience Games in English

The Origin of Patience Games in English

Jessel’s Bibliography of works in English on Playing Cards and Gaming describes “The first book on P...

2011 The Broons and Oor Wullie playing cards

The Broons and Oor Wullie playing cards

Characters from The Broons and Oor Wullie comic strips on their 75th anniversary.

2009 History of London illustrated playing cards

History of London illustrated playing cards

A catalogue in 54 cards of some of the treasures held within the Museum of London collections.

2006 Ladbroke Sporting Casino

Ladbroke Sporting Casino

Ladbroke Sporting Casino caricature cartoon playing cards, U.K, c.2006.

1869 The Evolution of Bezique boxed sets, 1869 to 1990

The Evolution of Bezique boxed sets, 1869 to 1990

The first company to register Bezique materials with Stationers’ Hall was Josh Reynolds & Son in Sep...

1915 Goodall 1915-1916 Sample Book

Goodall 1915-1916 Sample Book

Complete contents of a sample book by Goodall & Sons

1916 Goodall 1916 Rockleigh Sample Book

Goodall 1916 Rockleigh Sample Book

Complete contents of a sample book by Goodall

1879 Goodall 1879-1880 Sample Book

Goodall 1879-1880 Sample Book

Complete contents of a sample book by Goodall & Sons