Playing Cards from Malaysia

logo on box from foochow four colour cards made by Gwan Hua Heng, Malaysia

“Foochow four colour cards” or Chess-based cards, made by Gwan Hua Heng, Malaysia

The characters on the cards translate literally as: green circle "son"; white circle "man"; yellow circle "behind"; blue circle "uncle" and pink circle "duke". Some sources translate these enigmatic characters as being various ranks of the chinese nobility and a better translation might be: Pink circle : 公 = Duke; Yellow Circle 侯= marquis; Blue circle 伯 = Count; Green circle 子 = viscount; White circle 男= Baron. This type of playing cards originates from China; its area of use stretches from Taiwan to Singapore and Thailand, North Borneo and the Philippines. Images and notes courtesy Anthony Lee.

foochow four colour cards made by Gwan Hua Heng, Malaysia

Above: “foochow four colour cards” made by Gwan Hua Heng, Malaysia. Images courtesy Anthony Lee.

“Ceki” Chinese Money cards - used practically all over S/E Asia

Double Elephant brand Ceki Chinese Money cards

Above: 60-card Double Elephant brand 'Ceki' Chinese Money cards which might be found in Far eastern countries such as Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, and practically all over South East Asia. The deck is of three suits: myriads (top row), strings and coins and each suit is repeated twice making a total of 60 cards. In the Coins suit, from right to left, we have one (or ace) to nine, then there is a extra card with the image of a man on it which bears a red stamp (this card ranks as a ace in play, hence it shares a common marking with the ace). The last card on the middle row (strings) is the 金花 or "gold flower" and it bears the characters on it. The topmost row is the suit of "myriads" used here as in the sense of 10,000. The values of the cards are marked by a little black box which bears the value (in chinese numbers) of the card. If you squint your eyes a bit, the seemingly incoherent jumble of lines below the boxes form vaguely into human figures. (I am informed that they are characters from chinese plays, but others say they are portraits of gamblers - take your pick). The values are 10,000- 90,000 from R-L. The card to the extreme left is another one of the 3 extra cards. The heavy red overprinting on it makes the card quite illegible. Games similar to mahjongg or rummy are played with this deck, hence there are "indexes" or breaks in the thick black frames to help players. Image kindly provided by Anthony Lee.

Ceki Chinese Money cards

Above: another example of 60-card 'Ceki' Chinese Money cards, unknown manufacturer.

Hee Trading Co.

Hee Trading Co. manufacture board games, jig-saw puzzles, chess sets, compendiums as well as card games such as ‘Happy Families’, ‘Donkey’ and ‘Snap’   see more →

Above: this ‘Old Maid’ deck appears to be a transitional stage between Tower Press ‘Old Maid’, and the present decks published by Hee Trading. However, this deck is anonymous. Image courtesy Anthony Lee.

Above: “Donkey” children's card game designed and created by Ooi Yan Hee, manufactured by Hee Trading Co., Malaysia, 1984. Images kindly supplied by Anthony Lee.

Just last year, Singapore celebrated its 50th Year of independence. Hee’s cards were given out in state-sponsored “Goody packs” for this occasion ( see: Keep SG Funpack postcard for SG50 goodie bag collection). Hee’s cards were included as part of the “Good old games” that were played back then. Such is the presence of the cards on the Singaporean psyche.

Souvenir of Malaysia

Above: Images courtesy Matt Probert.


Above: Malaysia Airlines by Yong Guan Heng. Images courtesy Matt Probert.

Advertising Playing Cards

Tiger Beer advertising playing cards

Tiger Beer advertising playing cards featuring special artwork on the box, backs and Jokers depicting people drinking beer.

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Tiger Beer advertising playing cards

Above: Tiger Beer advertising playing cards. Image courtesy Matt Probert.

Last Updated April 06, 2019 at 10:05am


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