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Published April 05, 2014 Updated March 12, 2022

Spear’s Old Maid

Spear’s “The Jolly Game of Old Maid” was introduced around 1900. The cards contain some interesting but harmless social stereotypes from the end of the Victorian era.

Germany United Kingdom Spears Games Childhood Victorian Card Games Old Maid Add to Collection
Box from the Jolly Game of Old Maid published by Spear's Games, c.1910

Spear’s “The Jolly Game of Old Maid” was introduced around 1900 and comes in many sizes and card qualities. The images on the cards contain some interesting but harmless social stereotypes from the end of the Victorian era, mostly in a “jolly” mood, with matching comical names. There are plenty of funny characters, costumes and an early bicycle. The main focus of the game is towards the last card, an Old Maid shown here having tea with three cats and a parrot. The player who ends up holding this card is the loser.

The edition shown here, from around 1910, is reckoned on the box to be an “Improved Edition”. This probably refers to the print quality and more rounded corners than earlier editions. The backs are still plain pink. A smaller sized version was also produced.

the Jolly Game of Old Maid published by Spear's Games, c.1910

Above: the Jolly Game of Old Maid published by Spear's Games, c.1910, manufactured at the Spear Works in Bavaria.

Smaller Size Version

Above: small size edition, 50mm x 75mm, 33 card pack on very poor quality card. Plain backs. These may have been a pocket money buy during the first world war. I can’t thinks of any other reason for them.

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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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