A vintage Watney's Coombe Reid & Co Ltd promotional card game distributed by the brewery to their customers in c.1930. The backs have the famous red barrel. The families are: the Barrels, the Cheerilads, the Combes, the Hops, the Reids, the Stouts, the Watneys and the Malts.
Although the 1920s was a decade of optimism after the Great War, the Great Depression made the 1930s a difficult time. In Britain unemployment was widespread. As we see from these images, the woman was the homemaker and had a hairdo, and the man worked. The generation of children who grew up in the 1930s would go on to fight in World War II. They had their share of hardships and built strong values of hard work.
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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.
Wüst Spanish pattern c.1910 advertising Cuban ‘Tropical’ beer.
Gilroy Special Edition Playing Cards to commemorate the centenary of the birth of John Gilroy, 1989.
Hamm’s Beer promotion deck with bear cartoons by Frank M. Antoncich 1968.
Advertising Deck for the Piwiarnia Pub in Warsaw.
Classic Guinness Posters, 1999.
Castle Lager playing cards, c.2012.
Pilsner Urquell publicity deck from Czech Republic featuring beer drinkers.
Lovely Day for a Guinness deck published by Shamrock Gift Co Dublin, c.1980.
Promotional playing cards designed by Wim Simons, Belgium, 1960s.
‘Cartes de Luxe’ first published by Biermans in 1877 was reproduced in facsimile by Amstel Beer in c.1980.
‘House of Horror’ Halloween deck published by Strongbow cider, 2015.
Deck made in China in c.2010 advertising the Chinese brew “Lucky Beer, the enlightened beer”
A somewhat unusual deck specially designed for Grolsch Breweries evoking self-expression and independence of spirit, c.2012
Theakston Brewery advertising playing cards depicting old brewing traditions, tools and skills, designed in the style of early 18th century cards.
Australian Brewery Advertising
Welsh Brewery Playing Cards
A vintage Watney's Coombe Reid & Co Ltd promotional card game distributed by the brewery to their customers in c.1930
It was a common practice for card makers to produce decks under fictitious names particularly when producing advertising decks, to avoid promoting their own name at the expense of the client.
This deck is commonly known as the “Anheuser-Busch Spanish-American War deck”, issued at the end of the war.
The Kings show American admirals and the Jacks have different officers at each end. The Queens are “Our Colonies”.
Advertising pack for Cerveza ‘El Gallo’ made in Belgium, c.1880.
Schincariol Cerveja Pilsen brewery playing cards manufactured by Gráfica Nossa Senhora Aparecida Ltda (Nossagraf), Brazil
Pilsen Trucofest playing cards, Uruguay, c.2008
Juan Roura No.32, with advertisement for Cervezas Damm, c.1932.