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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.

Kay Snap

Kay Snap Children's Card Game, made in England, 1930s.

Kay Snap Card Game box, Made in England, 1930s

Kay Snap Card Game, 1930s

Kay ‘Snap’ Children's Card Game, made in England, 1930s. Nine sets of four identical cards showing common trades of the era, all male and wearing their traditional garb, including the Coalman, the Butcher, the Milkman, the Draper and the Policeman. No female workers are depicted and the tradesmen are all titled as “Mr”. With the exception of Mr Black, all the tradesmen have red noses.

Right: the box from Kay Snap, showing two of the tradesmen from the game →

Following the difficult times of the Great Depression, it is curious that none of the new industries which employed women during the 1930s are depicted in this game for young children. However, the issue was still contentious, and the popular opinion may have prevailed that married women who brought a second wage into the household were denying others of their fair share.

Kay Snap Card Game, Made in England, 1930s Kay Snap Card Game rules, Made in England, 1930s

Above: nine cards and the reverse from Kay Snap card game, total number of cards = 36; made in England, 1930s. The titles, inscriptions and rules are set in Gill Sans typeface which first appeared in around 1928-29.

Right: the Rules leaflet from Kay Snap card game, made in England, 1930s. It can be seen that the rules are very simple and the object of the game is to win all the cards. The game of Snap is often a child's first introduction to playing cards.

See also:   Black Peter   British Towns   Cromy   Dartex   Happy Families   El Negrito Pedro   El Reloj Card Game   Famous Five   Golden Egg Game   Hijitus   Illustrated Proverbs   Jack-of-all-Trades   Jaques' Games   Noddy Happy Families   Pekka-Peli   Peruvian Animals Quartet   Reshuffle   Vic Joc de Cartes   Walt Disney   Zoo Comics  

Kay Snap Card Game, Made in England, 1930s
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By Simon Wintle

Member since February 01, 1996

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Curator and editor of the World of Playing Cards since 1996.

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