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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.

Browsing manufacturer:

Thomas De la Rue & Co Ltd

68 Articles

In December 1831 Thomas de la Rue was granted his patent for printing playing cards by letterpress.

5: De La Rue

In December 1831 Thomas de la Rue was granted his patent for printing playing cards by letterpress.

5: De La Rue

Lobo

Lobo, the London Underground card game published by Thomas De la Rue & Co Ltd, 1930s.

Lobo

68: Playing cards in glass

My wife and I have recently commissioned a unique pair of stained glass windows for our home.

68: Playing cards in glass

67: Adverts and related material after 1900

The final page of material relating to playing cards from British periodicals.

67: Adverts and related material after 1900

Pashas

“Pasha” is one of Charles Goodall’s brands which first appeared in c.1898 and was retained until after the De la Rue takeover.

Pashas

Prince of Wales National Relief Fund 1914

A two-pack patience set produced by Thomas De la Rue on behalf of the Prince of Wales National Relief Fund in 1914.

Prince of Wales National Relief Fund 1914

When three brands merge...

After De la Rue factories were bombed in 1940 their cards were printed by Waddingtons. In 1962 Waddingtons and De la Rue combined forces to form the Amalgamated Playing Card Co.

When three brands merge...

Help Yourself Society

The “Help Yourself” Society was formed in 1927 to run fundraising activities for hospitals.

Help Yourself Society

49: De La Rue in detail

A detailed presentation of the variants of De La Rue's standard cards.

49: De La Rue in detail

Vac-tric Electric Vacuum Cleaners

Vac-tric Electric Vacuum Cleaner playing cards manufactured by De la Rue, 1930s.

Vac-tric Electric Vacuum Cleaners

Jungle Jinks

Jungle Jinks card game with artwork by Constance Stannard Chapman, manufactured by Thomas De La Rue & Co Ltd for H P Gibson & Sons Ltd, c.1905.

Jungle Jinks

Noah’s Ark Card Game

Noah’s Ark Card Game, c.1905, which in its day helped to teach the Old Testament worldview

Noah’s Ark Card Game

Peter Pan

“Peter Pan” pictorial card game published by H. P. Gibson & Sons Ltd in c.1912 and manufactured by Thomas de la Rue & Co Ltd from drawings by Charles A. Buchel (1872–1950).

Peter Pan

Electrical Mah Jong

Electrical Mah Jong was produced by De La Rue for The Western Electric Company Ltd in 1924 for the Wembley Exhibition.

Electrical Mah Jong

Travel Agent

Travel Agent is a card game designed by Martin A. Foley and manufactured by Thomas de la Rue & Co Ltd, c.1960.

Travel Agent

Iddy Umpty

“Iddy Umpty” card game based around learning to read the Morse Code Alphabet. by Thomas de la Rue & Co., Ltd, c.1905

Iddy Umpty

Bread & Honey

A charming Victorian family card game involving Clowns, Queens, Kings, Maids and thirty-seven Blackbirds manufactured by Thos De la Rue, c.1900.

Bread & Honey

Spin & Old Maid

Lovely Victorian family card game with illustrations by the famous humorous artist, cartoonist and illustrator Richard Doyle (1824-1883)

Spin & Old Maid

Stop Thief & Snip-Snap

Another late Victorian family card game by Thomas de la Rue & Co Ltd, c.1895 with beautifully illustrated period characters.

Stop Thief & Snip-Snap

Moods & Faces

“Moods & Faces” round game by Thos de la Rue & Co Ltd,. c.1900.

Moods & Faces

Cavalry Game

The “Cavalry Game” manufactured by Thomas de la Rue & Co Ltd, c.1900-10.

Cavalry Game

Tempest

Tempest is a family card game designed by W. Heath Robinson and published by Thomas de la Rue & Co. Ltd, c.1920s

Tempest

Golliwogg, c.1902

The stories about the Golliwogg and the Dutch dolls were written by Bertha Upton (1849-1912) and illustrated by her daughter Florence Kate Upton (1873-1922)

Golliwogg, c.1902

Kikit

Kikit is an indoor football game made by De la Rue, c.1920.

Kikit

A Pair of Transformation Packs

Two similar but fascinatingly different hand-drawn transformation decks by the same artist, c.1875

A Pair of Transformation Packs

Empire Card Company: Star Playing Cards

The “Star” special pack of playing cards manufactured by Thomas De la Rue under their Empire Card Co subsidiary, c.1910.

Empire Card Company: Star Playing Cards

Pneumatic Series ‘F’

De la Rue Pneumatic Series ‘F’ playing cards, c.1925.

Pneumatic Series ‘F’

Rūfa

Rūfa is a game designed by Ernest Legh and manufactured by De la Rue. The object is to build a pagoda with specially-designed cards without causing the building to collapse.

Rūfa

Arthur Lee & Sons Ltd

Advertising deck produced for Arthur Lee and Sons Ltd of Sheffield by Thomas De la Rue around 1958.

Arthur Lee & Sons Ltd

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

De la Rue’s 125th anniversary

Whist and Gaming Counters and Markers

History.of Whist and Gaming Counters and Markers from the 18th Century to modern times.

Whist and Gaming Counters and Markers

Pneumatic c.1960-1965

De la Rue were producing Pneumatic cards with the “special graining for ease of handling” as late as early 1960s

Pneumatic c.1960-1965

Warburg’s Skandinaviske Bridge Kort

“Warburg’s Skandinaviske Bridge Kort” published by Aktieselskabet Emil Jensen, København, c.1935.

Warburg’s Skandinaviske Bridge Kort

Rufford Playing Cards

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

Rufford Playing Cards

Jack Horner Snap

“Little Jack Horner” Snap made by Thomas De la Rue & Co Ltd, c.1890.

Jack Horner Snap

Alice in Wonderland

Alice in Wonderland card game based on original designs by Sir John Tenniel published by Thomas De la Rue & Co. Ltd, c.1900

Alice in Wonderland

De la Rue for export

Non-standard playing cards produced by De la Rue & Co. (London), c.1930s

De la Rue for export

41: A Guide to Dating Playing Cards

Dating is a particularly tricky but very interesting problem to tackle and there are many pitfalls.

41: A Guide to Dating Playing Cards

Draughts League Medals

Arthur Charles Prince worked for De la Rue as a playing card cutter and later was promoted to supervisor of a small team of workers of same until his death aged 50.

Draughts League Medals

30: The Not-So-Minor Cardmakers of the 19th Century - Gibson, Hunt & Bancks

A preliminary look at the card-makers operating in the 19th century.

30: The Not-So-Minor Cardmakers of the 19th Century - Gibson, Hunt & Bancks

28: How to Analyze and Differentiate Playing Card Plates (De La Rue, Waddington and the Berlin pattern [französisches Bild])

My interest in postage stamp variants led me to apply the same principles to playing cards.

28: How to Analyze and Differentiate Playing Card Plates (De La Rue, Waddington and the Berlin pattern [französisches Bild])

International Playing Cards

Designed by Reuben Townroe (1835‑1911), the artist who designed the ornamented terra cotta work on the exterior of the Royal Albert Hall in London.

International Playing Cards

Paramount Film Stars

Promotional playing cards for the Paramount film company with film stars on the court cards.

Paramount Film Stars

Film Star Playing Cards

Promotional playing cards for the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film company with film stars on the court cards.

Film Star Playing Cards

20: English Card-Makers 1761-1905

An initial survey of 19th century playing-card production. More detailed information appears on other pages.

20: English Card-Makers 1761-1905

14: Back Designs

A few examples of the many interesting back designs.

14: Back Designs

7: Brands and Packs

The introduction of brands commenced during the late 19th century as a development of the old qualities: Moguls, Harrys, Highlanders and Merry Andrews.

7: Brands and Packs

5: De La Rue

In December 1831 Thomas de la Rue was granted his patent for printing playing cards by letterpress.

5: De La Rue

Gath & Chaves

Gath & Chaves, Ltd

Gath & Chaves

Boudoir

“Boudoir” playing cards were introduced by Chas Goodall & Son in 1906 in a new, slimmer size.

Boudoir