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Published December 05, 2012 Updated April 26, 2022

Ormond Printing Co. Ltd

During the 1930s The Ormond Printing Co. Ltd produced playing cards for the Irish market with a distinctive ace of spades, joker and court cards. In 1935 the firm was acquired as a manufacturing facility for Waddington’s cards in Eire.

Ireland United Kingdom Ormond Printing Co Waddingtons Walter Till Add to Collection

In January 1935 Waddington’s obtained a financial interest in Dublin by making a part acquisition of the Ormond Printing Company. This enabled the firm to extend their activities in Ireland, particularly by manufacturing playing cards and cartons in Dublin. A new Ace of Spades was introduced, used with Waddington’s standard courts and jokers.

box by Ormond Printing Co., c.1935-50

Ormond Printing Co. with Waddington’s courts, c.1935-50

Ross Castle dating from the fourteenth century, stands on a peninsula jutting into Killarney’s Lower Lake. These playing cards feature a painting of Ross Castle signed by travel artist Walter Till, and are presented in a green padded box with the Ormond Ace of Spades design printed on the lid above the legend “Made in Ireland”.

The court cards and Joker are those used by Waddington’s at this time, with six of the courts ‘unturned’.

Ross Castle, Killarney, playing cards by Ormond Printing Co., c.1935-50
Emerald Isle box by Ormond Printing Co., c.1960-70 Emerald Isle box by Ormond Printing Co., c.1935-50

Emerald Isle series

In the first example the cards feature an original painting of Blarney Castle, Co. Cork, with three sheep grazing in the foreground, signed by Walter Till. The court cards and Joker are the same as in the above example, with six of the courts ‘unturned’. The black box has a sliding inner tray.

In the second example (c.1960) the box has been re-designed and the reverse shows a colour photograph of Glengarriff Harbour, Co. Cork. Other packs show Clifden, Co. Galway. The court cards are those formerly used by Goodall & Son which by this time were being used by Waddingtons who printed these cards in their Irish subsidiary.

Emerald Isle series with Waddington's courts, c.1935-50

During the 1960s Waddington's discontinued using their own court card designs in favour of those of Goodall & Son, but retaining the same Joker and Ace of Spades. As a rule, two Aces of Spades were printed with each pack, one with the company name, the other without. Either the named or the anonymous Ace was used, probably depending on the clients' preference. The other Ace was often affixed to the box. In the 1960s Emerald Isle series they also did cards with photographic scenes on the back of: "Trinity College, Dublin", "Custom House, Dublin", "Ross Castle" and "Bunratty Castle, Co Clare".

Emerald Isle series with Goodall's courts, c.1960
Great Southern Hotels box by Ormond Printing Co., c.1970 Great Southern Hotels box by Ormond Printing Co., c.1935-50

Great Southern Hotels series, c.1945-c.1970

The first box lists the locations of Great Southern Hotels as: Parknasilla • Killarney • Kenmare • Galway • Mulrany • Sligo. Bundoran is added on the second box. Both the examples shown here show a colour photograph of Kenmare on the reverse. The court cards and Joker are to begin with standard Waddington's designs with six of the courts ‘unturned’. Later, around 1970, the former Goodall & Son court cards are used.

Great Southern Hotels series with Waddington's courts, c.1945-50 Great Southern Hotels series with Goodall courts, c.1960-70 Great Southern Hotels series with Goodall courts, c.1960-70

Advertising packs are also found with Ormond Printing Co Ace of Spades. Some Ormond Printing Co packs are found with an extra “Guinness is good for you” card inviting the holder to a guided tour of the brewery.

Advertising Pack for Gold Flake by Ormond (Waddington's)

Above: advertising pack for Gold Flake by Ormond (Waddington's) featuring the historic Rock of Cashel, County Tipperary. Courtesy Matt Probert.

Although Waddington's obtained a financial interest in the Ormond Printing Company in 1935 so that they could produce playing cards in Ireland, the Ormond Printing Company Ltd continued working under its own name and amongst other things printed the Jig-Saw Book shown here

Early Monopoly sets were also manufactured in Ireland by the Ormond Printing Company Limited when Dublin was part of The Irish Free State. It must have been made between 1935 - 1937 due to the Savoy Cinema property titles.

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By Simon Wintle

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.


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