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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.

One Penny Games

One Penny Card Games, 1920s.

one penny Snap box

Some 1 penny card games from early 20th century, these packs were usually 32 or sometimes 36 cards only and printed on the cheapest possible card. They were almost exclusively printed in Bavaria and either sold in a box or paper sleeve. Most have plain backs, unless shown otherwise. These games don’t get much attention but they are of their time and sometimes very funny. We are grateful to Neil Darbyshire who helped to identify the titles.

Capital Snap

Above: Capital Snap, a pleasant and amusing game, made in Germany for UK market, c.1910. 24 cards, 3 of each picture.

Cock Robin Snap

Above: cards from Cock Robin Snap showing various animals, anonymous manufacturer, 4 of each card, printed in black & red only.

Snap

Above: anonymous manufacturer, 3 of each card, printed in blue, red & black, probably published at the time of the First World War. Incomplete pack, hard to know how many cards there should be in total.

Charlie Chaplin Snap

Above: Charlie Chaplin Snap

Whiskers Snap

Above: Whiskers Snap

Cats in Hats Snap

Above: Cats in Hats Snap. Maker unknown but likely German,

Scouts snap

Above: Scouting Snap

Caricature Olympics Snap

Above: Caricature Olympics Snap

Baby's Photo Snap

Above: Baby's Photo Snap

Musical Snap

Above: Musical Snap, British made but maker unknown.

Variety Stars Snap

Above: Variety Stars Snap

The Frolicsome Golliwog Snap

Above: The Frolicsome Golliwog Snap, see the Rules

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Credits

Thanks to Neil Darbyshire for additional research.

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By Rex Pitts (1940-2021)

Member since January 30, 2009

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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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