The World of Playing Cards Logo
Published July 03, 1996 Updated July 10, 2022

Chas Goodall and Son 1820-1922

Today nothing remains of Charles Goodall's Camden Works, where three-quarters of the playing cards printed in Britain were produced.

United Kingdom Goodall Boudoir Elfin Japanesque Linette Salon Sultan Tom Thumb Victorian 1820
Chas Goodall & Sons
Goodall imp

TODAY nothing remains of Charles Goodall’s Camden Works, where three-quarters of the playing cards printed in Britain were produced. However, the court card faces (show below) have become household figures around the world.

As a child, the founder of the dynasty, Charles Goodall (1785-1851), came to London from Northampton, and was apprenticed to John William Hunt, head of the old and established playing card manufacturer Hunt & Sons, in 1801. He seems to have remained in their employ until 1820.

Founders Charles, Josiah and Montague Goodall

Above: The Goodall dynasty, from left, Charles, Josiah and Montague Goodall.

The Goodall business was first established in Soho in 1820, printing playing cards and message cards. The earliest cards were traditional in appearance, and resemble those of Hunt. In 1826 increasing business and a growing family necessitated a move to larger premises, and then again, during the 1830s, the firm expanded into premises in what was then Great College Street. The main factory lay behind the terrace in a building which had formerly been a gun factory and was later used for the production of steam engines. At around this time Goodall started experimenting with 'modernised' and other court card designs which gradually evolved into those we are familiar with today.

Goodall logo

Charles’ two sons joined the family firm. By the middle of the century, Goodall and its younger competitor Thomas De La Rue were between them producing two-thirds of all playing cards made in England. Fifty years later Goodall and Son were leading the market with annual production of over 2 million packs. Demand was outstripping production and additional premises were secured nearby in 1855. The reduction of tax on playing cards in 1862 from one shilling to three pence boosted the playing card industry to almost treble the output. By 1868 an additional range of high-quality stationery was launched, plus games, toys, fountain pens and even toilet paper. Goodall's card games were never as successful as De la Rue's range of card games. Corner indices on playing cards were introduced in 1874 under the registered name “Duplex”. New presses in 1879 enabled Goodall to diversify into multi-coloured calendars, Christmas and New Year greetings cards and almanacs. Over the following twenty-five to thirty years they produced a substantial range of ornate and colourful cards, mainly by chromolithography.

Camden Works, Great College Street, London N.W.

Above: The Camden Works at its 1000-employee prime, producing over 2 million packs of playing cards annually.
The reduction of tax on playing cards in 1862 gave an immense stimulus to sales.

Over the years, because of its clarity and beauty of design, Goodall's distinctive court card pattern has been adopted or copied around the world.

playing card court designs by Chas Goodall & Son

Above: Goodall's court card faces have become household figures.

In the early 1880s Goodall absorbed the firm of Reynolds & Co., acquiring their stock and equipment. Goodall made cards for Victor Mauger in the USA, and the designs were copied by other American manufacturers. A range of accessories for card players started appearing from about 1860 including whist markers, Bézique sets, cribbage boards, score cards, etc. Goodall also produced decks with court cards embellished with ornamental patterns, printed in red & black only with a simple back design, to be sold at cheaper prices. In around 1885 Goodall set up LONDON PLAYING CARD CO., a subsidiary outlet for lower grade cards which deterred competitors from entering the market. Goodall's “Colonials” were introduced into their range during the 1890s as a special cheap series for export. They came in tuck boxes with one Joker.   See also: Tom Thumb Miniature playing cards :: Elfin Miniature playing cards :: Japanesque playing cards :: Pashas :: Prize Medal W.H. Smith :: Prize Medal J.R. Freeman & Son :: Sultan playing cards :: Goodall Patience Boxes :: Kuhn Khan

early Jokers by the firm Charles Goodall & Son, London, (1821-1921)

Above: early Jokers manufactured by Charles Goodall & Son during the 1870s-1890s. The first three were produced for the American market   learn more →

Until 1862 the ‘Old Frizzle’ Ace was used. After this date the Ace of Spades became a sort of trademark, providing useful clues for dating. In 1897 the company became a ‘limited’ one, and this change was reflected in the lettering on the Ace of Spades see more →

Special advertising pack by Goodall & Son, c.1912

Left: Special Joker, Ace of Spades and back design by Chas Goodall and Son, alias The London Playing Card Co., for Sanderson Bros & Newbould Ltd. Sheffield, c.1912.

In 1906 linen grained cards were introduced under the trade name “Linette” with the wrapper announcing the “Duplex” corner indices which had been registered in 1874 and the Joker. They soon became popular for their good shuffling and dealing qualities and the brand was continued for many years in standard and narrow sizes, and with “Japanese Lacquer” back designs.

Boudoir” playing cards were also introduced in 1906 in a new, slimmer size, measuring only 90x57 mms instead of 90x63mms. Around the same time the “Salon” brand was introduced with tasteful pictorial backs and gilt edges for the Canadian market, but also for sale in Britain, price 3/- per pack.

Above: transformed playing cards on a pack by Goodall & Son, c.1870.

Above: Goodall's “Nineteenth Century Playing Cards”, c.1900. The back features medallions with portraits of George III, George IV, William IV and Queen Victoria.

Back Designs and Decoration

From 1820 to c.1840 Goodall cards had plain white backs. Gradually the backs became decorated. To begin with single-colour designs were produced using stars, dots, fleur-de-lys etc. In about 1850 the first pictorial backs appeared with designs of flowers, shells or seaweed in monochrome printing on a pale background. The 1860s saw the introduction of multicoloured designs, with commemorative backs first appearing in 1864 to celebrate Shakespeare's 300th anniversary and the Wedding of the Prince of Wales. Cards produced to special order featuring badges or crests of army regiments or naval establishments started appearing in the 1870s. The range of designs increased enormously in the 1880s and 1890s and some pictorial back designs were very elaborate with printing in up to 12 separate colours. An Historic pack and Historic Shakespeare were published in 1893 featuring English Historical and Shakespearean characters, with decorated Aces. Japanesque playing cards appeared in c.1902, and a series of Canadian Pictorial Souvenir Cards was published between c.1905-21 with different back designs and photographs of scenery on each card.

commemorative playing card back designs by Chas Goodall & Son decorative playing card back designs by Chas Goodall & Son

Above: various commemorative, pictorial and decorative back designs from playing cards by Chas Goodall & Son spanning the Victorian era to early 20th century.

Queen Victoria Diamond Jubilee, 1897

Advertising back designs started appearing towards the end of the nineteenth century and were first mentioned in Goodall's advertisements in the 1880s. They rapidly became very popular and by 1890 were being produced in large quantities. Shipping companies, whisky distillers, breweries and tobacco companies were the main advertisers, often with a new design each year. Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee and the beginning of a new century coincided with a spate of beautifully printed commemorative packs and elaborate back designs.

advertising playing card back designs by Chas Goodall & Son

Above: advertising back designs from playing cards by Chas Goodall & Son.

Rameses Fortune Telling Cards, c.1910

Above: The Rameses Fortune Telling Cards were manufactured by Chas. Goodall & Son Ltd, London, c.1910. They are presented in a mock snakeskin box. Left: back design showing an Egyptian scene. Jack of Hearts: "Your dearest friend (pay attention to the cards nearest)" Reverse: "A pleasure loving bachelor; a fickle lover". The pack comprises an ordinary pack of 52 cards, plus one Joker or 'Subject' card, with interpretations printed at the top and foot of each card   (click image to see more).

With World War I the business climate deteriorated and since no successors were suitably qualified in 1922 Charles Goodall and Son was merged with De La Rue. The Camden Works were kept open until around 1929 and the Goodall name and brand names were still used until much later. After the merger identical packs were sold apparently haphazardly under the De la Rue and Goodall names, with De la Rue and Goodall Aces of Spades and Jokers used indiscriminately. In the end the old buildings became run-down, were purchased by The Post Office and partially demolished in the mid 1970s.

See also: Pack for the Buenos Aires Jockey Club with standard Belgian courts and a special joker (1897-1902) :: Double Patience Set with Rules Booklet published by Goodall / De la Rue, 1927.

Acknowledgement:   Historical information about Goodall and Son has been very kindly supplied by Michael H Goodall, Charles Goodall’s great-great-grandson. Mr Goodall is writing a full history of the company and its products, and would be delighted to hear from any former employees and others who may have memories of Camden Works or possess any unusual items manufactured by Goodall.


Goodall, Michael H: Chas Goodall & Son: The Family and The Firm 1820-1922, Woking, 2000

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


By Simon Wintle

Member since February 01, 1996

View 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.

Leave a Reply


1970 Grand Slam

Grand Slam

Limited edition gift set issued to mark the American Bicentennial, 1776-1976, produced by John Waddington Ltd and the Bristol Pottery for the British American Bicentenary Group, 1970.

1975 Waddingtons Nursery Rhymes

Waddingtons Nursery Rhymes

Nursery rhyme playing cards by Waddingtons, Leeds, UK, 1975.

2001 South Park Playing Cards

South Park Playing Cards

South Park characters and famous one-liners, by Carta Mundi for Hasbro Int. Inc., 2001.

1980 Pentacards


A five-suited set of playing cards published by Fleet and Case Games Ltd., Rainham, Kent, UK, c.1980.

1960 Souvenir Views of Scotland Playing Cards

Souvenir Views of Scotland Playing Cards

52 selected views of Scotland by De La Rue (Waddingtons) for GlenAlan Ltd, Glasgow, Scotland, c.1960s.

1911 The Jovial Cards

The Jovial Cards

Publicity items for a group of entertainers, Southend-on-Sea, Essex, UK, 1911.

1930 Waddington’s “Silkette” Playing Cards

Waddington’s “Silkette” Playing Cards

Cards made by John Waddington Ltd. for the Madras Club, Chennai (formerly Madras), India, c.1930.

2002 Highland Hospice

Highland Hospice

54 different personalities from the city of Inverness published by the Highland Hospice.

2017 Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Edinburgh Festival Fringe programme covers from 1956 to 2016 published by Winning Moves UK Ltd.

2010 Cape Wrath

Cape Wrath

Images from the Ministry of Defence Cape Wrath Training Centre, Sutherland, Scotland. Published 2010.

2014 Vesalius Anatomy Card Game

Vesalius Anatomy Card Game

Celebrating the work of Andreas Vesalius in the quincentenary year of his birth.

2005 Team GB

Team GB

Great Britains’s Olympic gold medallists from 1964 to 2004 published by the British Olympic Association.

2015 David Kindersley Centenary

David Kindersley Centenary

Celebration of the work of David Kindersley, stone letter-carver and typeface designer. Published by the Cardozo Kindersley Workshop, Cambridge, UK, 2015.

2003 Official England Rugby Playing Cards

Official England Rugby Playing Cards

Pack celebrating the rugby world champions of 2003. Produced by MMcardz.

1705 Royal Cards Reign of Queen Anne

Royal Cards Reign of Queen Anne

“Royal Cards Reign of Queen Anne” cover historical events, both honourable and treacherous, during the period 1702 to 1704.

Hall & Son

Hall & Son

Hall & Son

1850 Fortune-Telling Cards

Fortune-Telling Cards

Comic Fortune-Telling Cards published by Reynolds & Sons, c.1850.

1850 Comic Question & Answer cards

Comic Question & Answer cards

Comic Question & Answer cards by Josh. Reynolds & Sons, circa 1850.

1824 Myriorama


Myriorama of Italian scenery, 1824.

1870 Transformation Cards for Christmas

Transformation Cards for Christmas

Hand-drawn Transformation cards, c.1870.

Playing Cards: A Secret History

Playing Cards: A Secret History

Playing Cards: A Secret History



Sergeant-Major card game devised by W.G.Smith

Rex Pitts (1940-2021)

Rex Pitts (1940-2021)

We are deeply saddened by news of the passing of Anthony Rex Pitts (1940-2021).

Pepys Games

Pepys Games

The Story of Pepys Games by Rex Pitts

J. W. Spear and Sons

J. W. Spear and Sons

Jacob Wolfe Spear founded his company manufacturing fancy goods in 1879 near Nuremberg in Bavaria, Germany

Chad Valley Co. Ltd

Chad Valley Co. Ltd

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 Co., Ltd

Multum in Parvo Co., Ltd

Multum in Parvo published a range of indoor games during the period from 1884-1927.

1954 Ariel Productions Ltd

Ariel Productions Ltd

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

Kum-Bak Sports, Toys & Games

Kum-Bak Sports, Toys & Games MFG Co., Ltd, London S.E.11

1950 Crazy People

Crazy People

Crazy People children’s card game illustrated by caricaturist and graphic artist Walter Trier, c.1950.

1912 Panko


Panko (Votes for Women) suffragette card game published by Peter Gurney Ltd, c.1912.



Anonymous Snap game, 1930s.

Panto People

Panto People

Panto People published by E. S. & A. Robinson, c.1930s.



Hats-Off! miniature card game published by E. S. & A. Robinson, c.1930s.

1930 Zoo-Boots


Zoo-Boots published by E. S. & A. Robinson, c.1930s.

1875 XIXth Century

XIXth Century

The XIXth Century published by John Jaques & Son, c.1875.

The ‘Rinker’ Snap

The ‘Rinker’ Snap

The ‘Rinker’ highly amusing snap game, c.1910.

Round the World Happy Families

Round the World Happy Families

Round the World Happy Families by Chiefton Products Ltd of Bristol, c.1950s.

Abbatt Animal Families

Abbatt Animal Families

Abbatt Toys Animal Families, c.1970.

1930 French for Fun

French for Fun

French for Fun instructive card game published by John Jaques & Son Ltd., c.1930s