The World of Playing Cards Logo

Jaques’ Illustrated Proverbs

Jaques’ Illustrated Proverbs, c.1870. The complete proverb is printed along the top of each card in the set.

Jaques' Games established 1795

Jaques’ New Game of Illustrated Proverbs depicts typical Victorian social stereotypes and aphorisms intended to educate, console and advise young people. The first card in each well-known proverb features a hand-coloured engraving illustrating the general idea of the proverb, whilst the remaining cards in the set each contain one word inside a sort of cartouche. Thus complete sets can be made up reading “Prevention is Better Than Cure”, “Necessity is the Mother of Invention”, “Birds of a Feather Flock Together”, “Delays are Dangerous” and so on. These quotes have been passed on from generation to generation. Many originate from Biblical or Roman times. Some are still used on a regular basis and others are relics of a time and era which has taken its place in history.

An Early Edition, c.1870

Jaques' Illustrated Proverbs, c.1870 Jaques' Illustrated Proverbs, c.1870

Above: the set contains a total of twelve proverbs.

Later Edition, c.1885

See the Box

Jaques' Illustrated Proverbs, c.1885

Above: four sets from the second series of Jaques' Illustrated Proverbs, c.1885, showing the illustrated title card and accompanying single word cards making up the complete proverb. The set has 64 cards and is played using the rules of Happy Families. There are 12 proverbs to collect, with varying numbers of words. The lead card of each set has a coloured picture and each card is printed with the text of the complete proverb. Using a moralised version of the Happy Families game the rules of good behaviour could be taught. In the advertisement on the rules leaflet the Illustrated Proverbs are said to be drawn by Phiz. The original retail price was one shilling. The backs of the card are a plain cream colour. John Jaques of London was founded in 1795.

Jaques' Illustrated Proverbs, c.1885 Jaques' Illustrated Proverbs, c.1885

Above: eight title cards from Jaques’ Illustrated Proverbs, c.1885. The complete proverb is printed along the top of each card in the set. “Opportunity Makes the Thief” shows that the problem of pickpockets was rife. The Victorian period was marked by great change, prosperity for some with poverty and misery for others. Advice and quotes were always at hand, whether one belonged in the upper or lower classes, although many of the proverbs about frugality and work ethic must have been intended for the lower classes. “No Rose Without a Thorn” teaches us that to enjoy any beautiful or pleasant thing, we must endure something difficult or painful.

See also:   The London Post   Quits   Kingdoms of Europe   Counties of England   Jaques' Happy Families   Proverbs and Maxims   Jack-of-all-Trades   Cartes Questions-Devinettes


By Simon Wintle

Member since February 01, 1996

View Articles

Curator 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.

Leave a Reply


1911 The Jovial Cards

The Jovial Cards

Publicity items for a group of entertainers, Southend-on-Sea, Essex, UK, 1911.

1930 Waddington’s “Silkette” Playing Cards

Waddington’s “Silkette” Playing Cards

Cards made by John Waddington Ltd. for the Madras Club, Chennai (formerly Madras), India, c.1930.

2002 Highland Hospice

Highland Hospice

54 different personalities from the city of Inverness published by the Highland Hospice.

2017 Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Edinburgh Festival Fringe programme covers from 1956 to 2016 published by Winning Moves UK Ltd.

2010 Cape Wrath

Cape Wrath

Images from the Ministry of Defence Cape Wrath Training Centre, Sutherland, Scotland. Published 2010.

2014 Vesalius Anatomy Card Game

Vesalius Anatomy Card Game

Celebrating the work of Andreas Vesalius in the quincentenary year of his birth.

2019 O Baralho dos Provérbios!

O Baralho dos Provérbios!

Portuguese proverbs in combination with special courts and suit-signs published by Apenas Livros, Lisbon.

2005 Team GB

Team GB

Great Britains’s Olympic gold medallists from 1964 to 2004 published by the British Olympic Association.

2015 David Kindersley Centenary

David Kindersley Centenary

Celebration of the work of David Kindersley, stone letter-carver and typeface designer. Published by the Cardozo Kindersley Workshop, Cambridge, UK, 2015.

2003 Official England Rugby Playing Cards

Official England Rugby Playing Cards

Pack celebrating the rugby world champions of 2003. Produced by MMcardz.

1705 Royal Cards Reign of Queen Anne

Royal Cards Reign of Queen Anne

“Royal Cards Reign of Queen Anne” cover historical events, both honourable and treacherous, during the period 1702 to 1704.

Hall & Son

Hall & Son

Hall & Son

Black Peter

Black Peter

Two Black Peter games by Willy Mayrl published by Ferd Piatnik & Söhne, 1950s.

1850 Fortune-Telling Cards

Fortune-Telling Cards

Comic Fortune-Telling Cards published by Reynolds & Sons, c.1850.

1850 Comic Question & Answer cards

Comic Question & Answer cards

Comic Question & Answer cards by Josh. Reynolds & Sons, circa 1850.

1824 Myriorama


Myriorama of Italian scenery, 1824.

1870 Transformation Cards for Christmas

Transformation Cards for Christmas

Hand-drawn Transformation cards, c.1870.

PLAYING CARDS: A Secret History

PLAYING CARDS: A Secret History

PLAYING CARDS: A Secret History



Sergeant-Major card game devised by W.G.Smith

Rex Pitts (1940-2021)

Rex Pitts (1940-2021)

We are deeply saddened by news of the passing of Anthony Rex Pitts (1940-2021).

Pepys Games

Pepys Games

The Story of Pepys Games by Rex Pitts

J. W. Spear and Sons

J. W. Spear and Sons

Jacob Wolfe Spear founded his company manufacturing fancy goods in 1879 near Nuremberg in Bavaria, Germany

Chad Valley Co. Ltd

Chad Valley Co. Ltd

Chad Valley Co. Ltd (incorporating Johnson Brothers (Harborne) Ltd, the long-established UK brand bought by Woolworths in 1988 and now sold at Argos.

Multum in Parvo Co., Ltd

Multum in Parvo Co., Ltd

Multum in Parvo published a range of indoor games during the period from 1884-1927.

1954 Ariel Productions Ltd

Ariel Productions Ltd

The founder of Ariel Productions, Philip Marx, was a prolific publisher of children’s books and comics towards the end of and just after the Second World War.

Kum-Bak Sports, Toys & Games

Kum-Bak Sports, Toys & Games

Kum-Bak Sports, Toys & Games MFG Co., Ltd, London S.E.11

Crazy People

Crazy People

Crazy People children’s card game illustrated by caricaturist and graphic artist Walter Trier, c.1950.

1954 Andere Zeiten - Andere Kleider

Andere Zeiten - Andere Kleider

‘History of fashion’ cultural quartet game designed by Erika Werner-Nestler, 1954.

1983 Netherlands Kostuum Kwartet

Netherlands Kostuum Kwartet

Dutch costumes quartet game designed by Gerard Huijg, 1983.

1912 Panko


Panko (Votes for Women) suffragette card game published by Peter Gurney Ltd, c.1912.



Anonymous Snap game, 1930s.

1970 Nederlands Stedenkwartet

Nederlands Stedenkwartet

Nederlands Stedenkwartet with heraldic needlepoint patterns by Permin, c.1970.

Lion Coffee

Lion Coffee

Lion Coffee Mother Goose card game, late 19th C.

Panto People

Panto People

Panto People published by E. S. & A. Robinson, c.1930s.



Hats-Off! miniature card game published by E. S. & A. Robinson, c.1930s.

1930 Zoo-Boots


Zoo-Boots published by E. S. & A. Robinson, c.1930s.

XIXth Century

XIXth Century

The XIXth Century published by John Jaques & Son, c.1875.

The ‘Rinker’ Snap

The ‘Rinker’ Snap

The ‘Rinker’ highly amusing snap game, c.1910.

1960 Österreichisches Trachten-quartett

Österreichisches Trachten-quartett

Österreichisches Trachten-quartett Nr.282 published by Ferd Piatnik & Söhne.

Round the World Happy Families

Round the World Happy Families

Round the World Happy Families by Chiefton Products Ltd of Bristol, c.1950s.