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Published March 21, 2015 Updated April 05, 2019

Kille

‘Kille’, an old Swedish card game

Scandinavia Sweden Cambio Cuccu Gnav Kille Add to Collection

‘Kille’, an old Swedish card game

The game originated in 17th century Italy as Cuccu (‘cuckoo’) with a deck of 38 cards. As the game migrated north through Europe in the 18th century the number of cards and the name of the game changed. The game is first mentioned in Sweden in 1741 as Cambio (Italian for ‘exchange’). In 1833 this became ‘Kille’ which became the common form of the game around 1850   more

‘Kille’ cards by an unidentified maker from the late 18th century

Above: ‘Kille’ cards by an unidentified maker from the late 18th century. Images courtesy Rex Pitts.

Öbergs Killekort

Modern edition of the historic game by Esselte Öbergs AB, Eskilstuna, c.1977. 42 cards of a single suit, comprising two copies of 21 distinct cards.

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By Rex Pitts (1940-2021)

Member since January 30, 2009

Rex's main interest was in card games, because, he said, they were cheap and easy to get hold of in his early days of collecting. He is well known for his extensive knowledge of Pepys games and his book is on the bookshelves of many.

His other interest was non-standard playing cards. He also had collections of sheet music, music CDs, models of London buses, London Transport timetables and maps and other objects that intrigued him.

Rex had a chequered career at school. He was expelled twice, on one occasion for smoking! Despite this he trained as a radio engineer and worked for the BBC in the World Service.

Later he moved into sales and worked for a firm that made all kinds of packaging, a job he enjoyed until his retirement. He became an expert on boxes and would always investigate those that held his cards. He could always recognize a box made for Pepys, which were the same as those of Alf Cooke’s Universal Playing Card Company, who printed the card games. This interest changed into an ability to make and mend boxes, which he did with great dexterity. He loved this kind of handicraft work.

His dexterity of hand and eye soon led to his making card games of his own design. He spent hours and hours carefully cutting them out and colouring them by hand.

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