In 1851 the games manufacturer John Jaques of London (founded in 1795) commissioned a set of drawings from John Tenniel, later Sir John, the chief cartoonist of Punch, for their new game of Happy Families. The game was shown at the Great Exhibition of that year and was an instant success, rapidly superseding similar games such as John Bull in which players also collected sets of four cards. Jaques' version of Happy Families remained popular until the Second World War, but was lucky to survive thereafter. In 1941, during the Blitz, a large bomb destroyed the Hatton Garden factory. However, a safe, which had been kept at the top of the building and had fallen through to the basement, yielded the charred remains of an old pattern book, which included the originals for all the firm's card games and one example of the Happy Families card game - Master Potts the Painter's son. Later the printing plates for the game were discovered intact and so Happy Families lived on.
Tenniel's designs are an artisan crowd - even the doctor, the only professional among them, is reduced to 'Mr Dose'. They are also lower middle class and male orientated. Happy Families, which Tenniel drew 10 years before his illustrations for Alice in Wonderland, started a successful trend. Jaques was also one of the first games makers in England to market card games seriously. Jaques' original Happy Families designs were copied, sometimes with only slight modifications, by later manufacturers as recently as the 1970s, testifying to their enduring popularity. A miniature set was produced by Alfred Bird & Son in their custard powder packets just before WW2.
Two Black Peter games by Willy Mayrl published by Ferd Piatnik & Söhne, 1950s.
Sergeant-Major card game devised by W.G.Smith
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Kum-Bak Sports, Toys & Games MFG Co., Ltd, London S.E.11
Crazy People children’s card game illustrated by caricaturist and graphic artist Walter Trier, c.1950.
‘History of fashion’ cultural quartet game designed by Erika Werner-Nestler, 1954.
Dutch costumes quartet game designed by Gerard Huijg, 1983.
Panko (Votes for Women) suffragette card game published by Peter Gurney Ltd, c.1912.
Anonymous Snap game, 1930s.
Nederlands Stedenkwartet with heraldic needlepoint patterns by Permin, c.1970.
Lion Coffee Mother Goose card game, late 19th C.
Panto People published by E. S. & A. Robinson, c.1930s.
Hats-Off! miniature card game published by E. S. & A. Robinson, c.1930s.
Zoo-Boots published by E. S. & A. Robinson, c.1930s.
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The ‘Rinker’ highly amusing snap game, c.1910.
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Round the World Happy Families by Chiefton Products Ltd of Bristol, c.1950s.
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“So Fängt Es An” beautifully illustrated by M. Neugebauer, published by Helingsche Verlagsanstalt, c.1950.
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Asterix Adventure quartet game by ASS, 1989.
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Counties of Britain by John Jaques & Son Ltd. c.1930.
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‘Tout Est Bien Qui Finit Bien’ family card game by Dondorf.
Zwarte Piet by Dondorf for the Dutch market, 1906.
Jigstar film star card game by Murphy Games Ltd, 1936.
Black Peter card game designed by Willy Mayrl for Piatnik.
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Gulliver in the Land of Dwarfs quartet published by Verlag für Lehrmittel, Pößneck.