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Published May 12, 2021 Updated May 09, 2023

Lion Coffee

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

USA Woolson Spice Company Advertising Childhood Card Games Old Maid Add to Collection

Lion Coffee was a brand of coffee sold by the Woolson Spice Company of Toledo, OH. During the late 1800s the firm began running promotions where consumers could redeem lion heads for gifts such as paper dolls, trading cards, educational games, etc. Collectible cards were also inserted into packets of Lion’s Coffee. Several card games are known from the 1890s on this basis which would have encouraged the purchase of many bags of coffee to collect a full set.

Lion Coffee Mother Goose card game, late 19th century

Mother Goose

Lion Coffee Mother Goose card game. The set has 22 numbered pairs of cards illustrating popular nursery stories, plus one unnumbered Mother Goose card.

Lion Coffee Mother Goose card game, late 19th century Lion Coffee Mother Goose card game, late 19th century Lion Coffee Mother Goose card game, late 19th century Lion Coffee Mother Goose card game, late 19th century

Above: Lion Coffee Mother Goose card game, late 19th century. 45 small size cards 100mm x50mm, printed on cheap card which has gone very yellow. The presence of a “Silver Locks” card (13) with the three bears points to the age of the cards. The bears’ adversary was named Silverlocks in the earliest appearance of the story but this was gradually favoured as Goldilocks, who we know now.

Unknown Card Game from Barbara Jones

Another example of the card games published in the 1890s by Lion Coffee.

Lion Coffee card game, late 19th century

Above: there are a total of 41 cards all with the same Lion Coffee picture. There are 2 Stop cards, 3 with the dollar value, 9 sets of 4 cards per set with the colors black, green, brown or orange and pink or faded red on each set. There is no name of the game or instructions of how to play. Not sure if it is a complete set. Courtesy Barbara Jones.

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By Rex Pitts (1940-2021)

Member since January 30, 2009

Rex's main interest was in card games, because, he said, they were cheap and easy to get hold of in his early days of collecting. He is well known for his extensive knowledge of Pepys games and his book is on the bookshelves of many.

His other interest was non-standard playing cards. He also had collections of sheet music, music CDs, models of London buses, London Transport timetables and maps and other objects that intrigued him.

Rex had a chequered career at school. He was expelled twice, on one occasion for smoking! Despite this he trained as a radio engineer and worked for the BBC in the World Service.

Later he moved into sales and worked for a firm that made all kinds of packaging, a job he enjoyed until his retirement. He became an expert on boxes and would always investigate those that held his cards. He could always recognize a box made for Pepys, which were the same as those of Alf Cooke’s Universal Playing Card Company, who printed the card games. This interest changed into an ability to make and mend boxes, which he did with great dexterity. He loved this kind of handicraft work.

His dexterity of hand and eye soon led to his making card games of his own design. He spent hours and hours carefully cutting them out and colouring them by hand.


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