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, 1996View Articles
Curator 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.
52 selected views of Scotland by De La Rue (Waddingtons) for GlenAlan Ltd, Glasgow, Scotland, c.1960s.
Publicity items for a group of entertainers, Southend-on-Sea, Essex, UK, 1911.
Cards made by John Waddington Ltd. for the Madras Club, Chennai (formerly Madras), India, c.1930.
54 different personalities from the city of Inverness published by the Highland Hospice.
Edinburgh Festival Fringe programme covers from 1956 to 2016 published by Winning Moves UK Ltd.
Images from the Ministry of Defence Cape Wrath Training Centre, Sutherland, Scotland. Published 2010.
Celebrating the work of Andreas Vesalius in the quincentenary year of his birth.
Great Britains’s Olympic gold medallists from 1964 to 2004 published by the British Olympic Association.
Celebration of the work of David Kindersley, stone letter-carver and typeface designer. Published by the Cardozo Kindersley Workshop, Cambridge, UK, 2015.
Pack celebrating the rugby world champions of 2003. Produced by MMcardz.
“Royal Cards Reign of Queen Anne” cover historical events, both honourable and treacherous, during the period 1702 to 1704.
Hall & Son
Comic Fortune-Telling Cards published by Reynolds & Sons, c.1850.
Comic Question & Answer cards by Josh. Reynolds & Sons, circa 1850.
Myriorama of Italian scenery, 1824.
Hand-drawn Transformation cards, c.1870.
PLAYING CARDS: A Secret History
Sergeant-Major card game devised by W.G.Smith
We are deeply saddened by news of the passing of Anthony Rex Pitts (1940-2021).
The Story of Pepys Games by Rex Pitts
Jacob Wolfe Spear founded his company manufacturing fancy goods in 1879 near Nuremberg in Bavaria, Germany
Chad Valley Co. Ltd (incorporating Johnson Brothers (Harborne) Ltd, the long-established UK brand bought by Woolworths in 1988 and now sold at Argos.
Multum in Parvo published a range of indoor games during the period from 1884-1927.
The founder of Ariel Productions, Philip Marx, was a prolific publisher of children’s books and comics towards the end of and just after the Second World War.
Kum-Bak Sports, Toys & Games MFG Co., Ltd, London S.E.11
Crazy People children’s card game illustrated by caricaturist and graphic artist Walter Trier, c.1950.
Panko (Votes for Women) suffragette card game published by Peter Gurney Ltd, c.1912.
Anonymous Snap game, 1930s.
Panto People published by E. S. & A. Robinson, c.1930s.
Hats-Off! miniature card game published by E. S. & A. Robinson, c.1930s.
Zoo-Boots published by E. S. & A. Robinson, c.1930s.
The XIXth Century published by John Jaques & Son, c.1875.
The ‘Rinker’ highly amusing snap game, c.1910.
Round the World Happy Families by Chiefton Products Ltd of Bristol, c.1950s.
Abbatt Toys Animal Families, c.1970.
French for Fun instructive card game published by John Jaques & Son Ltd., c.1930s
Counties of Britain by John Jaques & Son Ltd. c.1930.
Radio Banker by John Waddington Ltd for Marconiphone Co Ltd.
Jigstar film star card game by Murphy Games Ltd, 1936.
“Countries of Empire” published by John Jaques & Son Ltd, c.1930s.