The World of Playing Cards Logo The World of Playing Cards Logo

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.

The New Game of Animals

This Victorian card game contains imaginatively designed letters which spell the name of an animal, with one card representing the animal spelt

“The New Game of Animals”  (1878)

This Victorian card game consists of eleven sets of cards and is a spelling game played like Happy Families. Each card contains an imaginatively designed letter which spells the name of an animal, with one card representing the animal spelt. The design for each letter makes it fairly obvious to which animal it belongs. There is also one card containing all the animals. The animal names contain three, four or five letters.

The artist's signature appears which reads: “J. Lucy Hulbert, 1878”. An extra card contains the Rules of the Game

the New Game of Animals, 1878

Above: the New Game of Animals, anonymous manufacturer, 1878. The key cards have a picture of an animal: an ass, cat, cow, dog, fox, goat, hare, horse, lion, pig or rat. The others in the set spell the name of the animal with the letters illustrated in pictures. The set of lion cards is double in point value, because he is the 'king of the beasts'. The card backs are plain green. Images courtesy Rex Pitts.