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Published December 29, 2010 Updated May 12, 2022

Jaques’ Illustrated Proverbs

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

1870 United Kingdom Jaques Proverbs Victorian Card Games Add to Collection
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

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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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