Ever since the Anglo-Dutch fleet captured Gibraltar over 300 years ago during the war of Spanish succession, the small territory at the southern tip of Spain has been a bone of contention between Madrid and London. Although British sovereignty was formalised by the treaty of Utrecht in 1713 and Gibraltar became a British colony in 1830, Spain understandably has always bristled at the idea of UK ownership. Referendums - in 1967 and 2002 - have shown that the overwhelming majority of residents wish Gibraltar to remain British.
In the early WW2 playing cards were regarded as superfluous. However, in 1943 Mr Winston Churchill intervened to ensure that a supply was available for the forces to provide amusement during long hours of monotony or waiting.
"One dull evening Major Burke, the town-major of Gibraltar, was sitting playing cards with two other officers in a house near King’s Bastion. In the middle of a deal a stray shell crashed into the room putting out the candle. It also unfortunately fell on his lap. In those early days shells did not necessarily explode on impact. The long fuses attached to them tended to burn for quite a while. His card-playing friends immediately leapt out of the room and were unharmed. Poor Burke, however, was pinned down by the weight of the shell and was blown to pieces."
Gibraltar's geographical location made it into a key strategic asset. A unique feature of the Rock is its system of underground passages, known as the Galleries or the Great Siege Tunnels. Now that its military importance has declined, and with no large-scale agricultural or industrial activity, much of Gibraltar's income is derived from customs duties, offshore finance, internet gaming, tourism and the provisioning of ships. The Ocean Village Development, for example, one of the newest premier investment opportunities in Gibraltar, hopes to cater for the millions of tourists who visit each year. At the same time, 800 affordable flats have been built recently for local residents, many of whom are experiencing debt problems or unemployment. The many souvenir shops today offer standard Anglo-American packs bearing photographic scenes on the reverse, made cheaply in China or other Far Eastern countries, as no playing card manufacturer is based in Gibraltar.
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Member since February 01, 1996
Founder and editor of the World of Playing Cards since 1996. He is a former committee member of the IPCS and was graphics editor of The Playing-Card journal for many years. He has lived at various times in Chile, England and Wales and is currently living in Extremadura, Spain. Simon's first limited edition pack of playing cards was a replica of a seventeenth century traditional English pack, which he produced from woodblocks and stencils.
A limited edition art print of the King of Diamonds 1984 woodblock joker.
A limited edition art print of the Jack of Clubs 1984 woodblock joker.
A limited edition art print of the Jack of Hearts 1984 woodblock joker.
A few new games survived and are still around today; most came and went and are only witnessed in th...
A miniature set of Goodall domino cards (5.9 x 3.5 cms) still in perfect condition.
“1952-2002 commemorative deck” customised with doodles by an uncredited artist, UK, 2011.
“Playing Politics ’10: With no expenses spared” featuring caricatures by Oliver Preston, published b...
Playing Politics ’92: Pack of lies with caricatures by Grant Robertson, UK.
Facsimile of Winstanley’s Geographical cards produced by Harold & Virginia Wayland, 1967.
Great inventions playing cards designed by Gary Wyatt, United Kingdom, 2011.
Festive courts on a Waddingtons pack designed to celebrate Christmas 1980.
‘Gone to Pot’: special playing cards for keen gardeners, United Kingdom.
Roy Huteson Stewart's The Tarot Strikes Back combines Star Wars with Rider-Waite tarot imagery.
“Don’t come back” playing cards produced by Hounslow NHS Primary Care Trust and Feltham Young Offend...
Randy Butterfield's House of Tudor playing cards feature detailed art in a high-quality collectible ...
Katie Abey’s rainbow-coloured designs using crazy animals to convey motivating phrases.
On-line offsite data backup publicity playing cards produced by The Bunker, United Kingdom, c. 2004....
54 different dinosaurs, both large and small, illustrated by Cecilia Fitzsimons.
Commemorative Olympic Playing Cards produced by Waddingtons exclusively for Stanley Gibbons Antiquar...
Clamcleats playing cards for sailors designed by Celia Allison, New Zealand, 1986.
“Around the world in 54 cards” hand-coloured transformation pack produced by Peter Wood, United King...
Jessel’s Bibliography of works in English on Playing Cards and Gaming describes “The first book on P...
Characters from The Broons and Oor Wullie comic strips on their 75th anniversary.
A catalogue in 54 cards of some of the treasures held within the Museum of London collections.
The first company to register Bezique materials with Stationers’ Hall was Josh Reynolds & Son in Sep...