Astra Games was a subsidiary of the McCorquodale Group of Companies, producing standard advertising playing cards and cards for casino use during the period 1982-87. The Astra Games court card designs are inspired by those of Fournier, with one or two idiosyncrasies. In particular, the King of Hearts has two left hands and the King of Clubs lacks the traditional orb. There are several small variations in the lettering found on the Ace of Spades and two types of indices. The standing jokers usually have snowflakes in the corners and the Contract Bridge score cards come with or without black borders. The cards have distinctively bright colours, shiny surfaces and are not linen grained.
Packs known to have been produced include: British Telecom Phonecards, Canberra Cruises, Suprega Hand Cleanser, Barlo Boilers, Hilti Power Tools, The Mary Rose Trust, Gramoxone 100 Weed Killer, KCA Drilling, L.P.H. Plant Hire, Watford F.C., Ipswich Town Football Club, Everton F.C., Plymouth Argyle F.C., Sheffield United F.C., Levi's Menswear, The National Trust, The National Trust for Scotland, Newey & Eyre, Ocean Cruise Lines, British Airways Poundstretcher, Wilkinson Sword, Liebert International, Fusilade, Coopers Filters, John Bull Beer Kits, Whitbread Poacher Bitter, Guernsey Holidays, The XIII Commonwealth Games & Alfred Marks Recruitment Consultants. Many more are certain to have been made.
McCorquodale discontinued their playing card subsidiary in 1987, ostensibly for 'technical reasons' in that this was not their primary speciality. Woodpecker Press is believed to have started up in 1987 as a spin-off from the closure of Astra Games, and continued producing advertising playing cards of a very similar design and quality until around 1989.
McCorquodale Card Technology (UK) was acquired in 1993 by De La Rue. In 1995 De La Rue, with its eyes on the move from magnetic strip to microprocessor cards, acquired McCorquodale Security Cards Inc. (MSCI) based in Pennsylvania, USA. However, there was no return to playing-card production at this time.
Member since February 01, 1996View 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.
Cards made by John Waddington Ltd. for the Madras Club, Chennai (formerly Madras), India, c.1930.
Publicity pack for the Harley and Helmsley Hotels, U.S.A., c.1986.
54 different personalities from the city of Inverness published by the Highland Hospice.
Edinburgh Festival Fringe programme covers from 1956 to 2016 published by Winning Moves UK Ltd.
Images from the Ministry of Defence Cape Wrath Training Centre, Sutherland, Scotland. Published 2010.
A set of advertising poster stamps for C.L.Wüst playing cards.
Celebrating the work of Andreas Vesalius in the quincentenary year of his birth.
Luxury playing cards produced by Theory11 in collaboration with The Nomad Hotel in New York City.
An extraordinary Spanish pack of chocolate advertising playing cards dating from 1920
Great Britains’s Olympic gold medallists from 1964 to 2004 published by the British Olympic Association.
Celebration of the work of David Kindersley, stone letter-carver and typeface designer. Published by the Cardozo Kindersley Workshop, Cambridge, UK, 2015.
Marvel’s Avengers: The Infinity Saga Premium Playing Cards produced by Theory11 and designed by Mattson Creative, 2021.
Pack celebrating the rugby world champions of 2003. Produced by MMcardz.
Pack promoting Beaujolais wine published by Editions du Nuton, France.
Gó Succo fruit juice promotion deck featuring Walt Disney cartoons.
“Royal Cards Reign of Queen Anne” cover historical events, both honourable and treacherous, during the period 1702 to 1704.
Hall & Son
Comic Fortune-Telling Cards published by Reynolds & Sons, c.1850.
Comic Question & Answer cards by Josh. Reynolds & Sons, circa 1850.
Myriorama of Italian scenery, 1824.
Hand-drawn Transformation cards, c.1870.
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IBM Linux One playing cards, c.2018.
Sergeant-Major card game devised by W.G.Smith
We are deeply saddened by news of the passing of Anthony Rex Pitts (1940-2021).
The Story of Pepys Games by Rex Pitts
Jacob Wolfe Spear founded his company manufacturing fancy goods in 1879 near Nuremberg in Bavaria, Germany
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 published a range of indoor games during the period from 1884-1927.
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 MFG Co., Ltd, London S.E.11
Crazy People children’s card game illustrated by caricaturist and graphic artist Walter Trier, c.1950.
Panko (Votes for Women) suffragette card game published by Peter Gurney Ltd, c.1912.
Anonymous Snap game, 1930s.
Lion Coffee Mother Goose card game, late 19th C.
Panto People published by E. S. & A. Robinson, c.1930s.
Hats-Off! miniature card game published by E. S. & A. Robinson, c.1930s.
Zoo-Boots published by E. S. & A. Robinson, c.1930s.
The XIXth Century published by John Jaques & Son, c.1875.
The ‘Rinker’ highly amusing snap game, c.1910.