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The New Game of Animals

Published May 19, 2014 Updated May 12, 2022

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

1878 United Kingdom Childhood Nature & Environment Spelling Card Games Add to Collection

“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.

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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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