More one penny card games, 1900-1910. Most are anonymous and probably made in Germany, imported into the UK when our manufacturers were concentrating on quality games for wealthy people. This left a gap in the market for ordinary folk who could only afford these cheapo games which sold for pennies...
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The Funny Snap, Monster Penny game, designed in England, printed in Bavaria.
Funny Snap Game with nursery rhyme pictures, made in Germany.
Anonymous Snap game.
As far as their marketing is concerned I can only guess. I don’t believe they were ever included with any other purchases (like Cigarette or Tea cards). I think they all probably were at first in a box or paper sleeve neither of which lasted very long being so cheap and of poor quality. The fact that so many have missing cards does suggest they were played with but may also have been easy to get damaged and discarded. We will probably never know the answers – all the people who played with them are now dead. Books about domestic life in those days were only written by educated middle class people who only ever new the much more expensive games they and their children played with. A large number of poorer people couldn’t read or write let alone report on their lives for posterity in literature.
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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.
Theatre programme in the form of a pack of cards. East Germany, c.1967.
Cards made by John Waddington Ltd. for the Madras Club, Chennai (formerly Madras), India, c.1930.
54 different personalities from the city of Inverness published by the Highland Hospice.
Edinburgh Festival Fringe programme covers from 1956 to 2016 published by Winning Moves UK Ltd.
Images from the Ministry of Defence Cape Wrath Training Centre, Sutherland, Scotland. Published 2010.
Hunters, animals and birds feature on all but the Kings in this pack by Theodor Wegener, c.1863-70.
Cards slanted to the right, issued to mark George W. Bush’s second term of office.
A few items used for advertising or displaying Dondorf playing card products.
A set of advertising poster stamps for C.L.Wüst playing cards.
Celebrating the work of Andreas Vesalius in the quincentenary year of his birth.
Great Britains’s Olympic gold medallists from 1964 to 2004 published by the British Olympic Association.
Celebration of the work of David Kindersley, stone letter-carver and typeface designer. Published by the Cardozo Kindersley Workshop, Cambridge, UK, 2015.
Pack celebrating the rugby world champions of 2003. Produced by MMcardz.
Pack promoting Beaujolais wine published by Editions du Nuton, France.
This miniature pack is very similar to one made by C.L.Wúst in c.1890.
Miniature playing cards, possibly for children, with a romantic theatrical theme. C.L. Wüst c.1890.
An interesting pack of playing cards with illustrated Indian aces made "Specially for the Bombay Market", c.1915.
‘Aphorisms on the Kiss’ published by C. A. Solbrig, Leipzig, 1808.
“Royal Cards Reign of Queen Anne” cover historical events, both honourable and treacherous, during the period 1702 to 1704.
Hall & Son
Two Black Peter games by Willy Mayrl published by Ferd Piatnik & Söhne, 1950s.
Wüst Spanish pattern c.1910 advertising Cuban ‘Tropical’ beer.
Comic Fortune-Telling Cards published by Reynolds & Sons, c.1850.
Comic Question & Answer cards by Josh. Reynolds & Sons, circa 1850.
The maker is possibly Kaspar Traugott Knaut (1799-1881).
Schweizer Trachten No.174 (Costumes Suisses) by Dondorf.
Myriorama of Italian scenery, 1824.
Hand-drawn Transformation cards, c.1870.
PLAYING CARDS: A Secret History
Sergeant-Major card game devised by W.G.Smith
We are deeply saddened by news of the passing of Anthony Rex Pitts (1940-2021).
Video by Art of Impossible. In this video you will get a short overview of the most important historical facts about playing cards and their history.
The Story of Pepys Games by Rex Pitts
Jacob Wolfe Spear founded his company manufacturing fancy goods in 1879 near Nuremberg in Bavaria, Germany
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 published a range of indoor games during the period from 1884-1927.
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 MFG Co., Ltd, London S.E.11
Crazy People children’s card game illustrated by caricaturist and graphic artist Walter Trier, c.1950.
‘History of fashion’ cultural quartet game designed by Erika Werner-Nestler, 1954.