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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.

Goodall c.1845-60

Goodall’s earliest cards were traditional in appearance but in around 1845 ‘modernised’ courts were designed

Goodall’s earliest cards, produced using woodblock and stencil techniques, were traditional in appearance but as technology and fashions moved forwards, in around 1845 ‘modernised’ courts were designed. These still contained full-length figures, but double-ended ones were soon to follow. At the same time, the plain white backs were now produced with an all-over pattern of spirals, dots or a simple repeating pattern. Shortly after this led to pictorial back designs and very soon, in the 1860s, these evolved into multicolour designs, commemorative backs, oriental designs and so on, often including gold on better quality cards. This particular court card design also happens to be the only Goodall deck to carry that name on any court card.

At this time packs were accompanied by the ‘Old Frizzle’ duty Ace of Spades, or in some cases an ‘Exportation’ Ace.

cards by Goodall and Son with modernised courts, c.1845-60

Above: Goodall's new designs were an attempt to 'modernize' the courts. There was also a double-ended version (1850-60). Two different sets of blocks are known, with various colour variants. The King of Diamonds has no hand. Shortly after this (c.1860) Goodall made another attempt to 'modernize' the courts, which were re-drawn and decorated in a more ornamental style. These developments were probably to keep in step with De la Rue's innovations. Images courtesy Rod Starling.

Right: backs began to be produced with an all-over pattern of spirals, dots or a simple repeating pattern. By the 1860s these evolved into multicolour designs, commemorative backs, oriental designs and so on, often including gold on better quality cards.

REFERENCES

Goodall, Michael H: Chas Goodall & Son: The Family and The Firm 1820-1922, Woking, 2000. This is The best source of information on Charles Goodall & Son.

Lodge, Ken: The Standard English Pattern (second revised and enlarged edition), Bungay, Suffolk, 2010

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By Rod Starling

Member since January 09, 2013

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Rod Starling is one of the founding members of the 52 Plus Joker card collectors club. He has written many articles for the club's quarterly newsletter, Clear the Decks. His collection still encompasses both foreign and American decks. Rod has also authored a book titled The Art and Pleasures of Playing Cards.

Also by Rod Starling

Download as Adobe PDF files:

"Playing Card Art Collectors Extraordinaire"

"Some Facts About Facsimiles"

"Something New and Topical"

"Tales From the Stage"

"Shuffling Along With History"

"Steamboat Cards and the Mississippi Mystique"

"Piatnik: High Quality & Longevity"

"Three Rare Playing Card Back Designs"

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