A range of cheaper or more economical card games under the brand name ‘Clifford Series’ appeared just after the War, often bearing the legend “British Made”. These games shared the sense of optimism and love of fun which characterised similar games by Tower Press and were usually produced in bright colours on low grade cardboard. The brand was owned by F. Levy and Co, of 22-24 Tabernacle Street, Finsbury Square, London, EC2 who had founded a wholesale business in 1923 selling toys and fancy goods from Hong Kong. Eventually they marketed a few items under the brand name Clifford which was his son’s Christian name.
Clifford himself later followed his father into the business and it was he who began to introduce games such as Housey Housey into the range with the Clifford brand name. Later in around 1945 he published miniature toy patience cards with the brand name Fleveco (F Levy Co) and he began publishing the first Clifford card games in the early 1950s. In the fullness of time his son Richard took control in around 1959 and he wanted to expand the toy business with a range of plastic cars which again were made in Hong Kong by a UK owned company Herbert Kees Ltd.
During this period Clifford card games appeared in several editions of 16 different games, including: Animal Rummy, Circus Snap, Donkey (2 versions), Happy Families (3 versions + a miniature), Mystic Fortune Teller, Old Maid, Pantomime Snap, Happy Hours Snap, Nursery Rhyme Snap, Wild West Snap & There and Back.
At some point in the 1960s or ’70s the brand became ‘Clifford Toys’.
At some point in the 1960s or ’70s the brand became ‘Clifford Toys’ with a new logo. In the 1970s a new range of 6 photographic card games with square corners was introduced. These were: Animal Happy Families, Animal Snap, Capital Cities Snap, Fireman’s Rummy, Guardsman Snap & Travel Snap. These at last had the brand name on the boxes and at first were made in England but later, with fewer cards, made in Italy. Although card games ceased being created in the 1950s they continued to be re-published until the 1970s. They also produced a big range of miniature children’s books. The company now no longer exists.
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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.
Two Black Peter games by Willy Mayrl published by Ferd Piatnik & Söhne, 1950s.
My late mother found these miniature cards in a skip around 50 years ago.
Sergeant-Major card game devised by W.G.Smith
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.
‘History of fashion’ cultural quartet game designed by Erika Werner-Nestler, 1954.
Dutch costumes quartet game designed by Gerard Huijg, 1983.
Panko (Votes for Women) suffragette card game published by Peter Gurney Ltd, c.1912.
Anonymous Snap game, 1930s.
Nederlands Stedenkwartet with heraldic needlepoint patterns by Permin, c.1970.
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.
Österreichisches Trachten-quartett Nr.282 published by Ferd Piatnik & Söhne.
Round the World Happy Families by Chiefton Products Ltd of Bristol, c.1950s.
“So Fängt Es An” beautifully illustrated by M. Neugebauer, published by Helingsche Verlagsanstalt, c.1950.
Abbatt Toys Animal Families, c.1970.
“Verkehrsmittel Einst und Jetzt” transport quartet game by Bielefelder Spielkarten Fabrik GmbH, 1958.
Asterix Adventure quartet game by ASS, 1989.
French for Fun instructive card game published by John Jaques & Son Ltd., c.1930s
Eurotrotter by La Ducale, c.1980s.
Schwarzer Peter no.964 published by Josef Hohlweg, Vienna, early 20th century.
Counties of Britain by John Jaques & Son Ltd. c.1930.
Radio Banker by John Waddington Ltd for Marconiphone Co Ltd.
‘Tout Est Bien Qui Finit Bien’ family card game by Dondorf.
Zwarte Piet by Dondorf for the Dutch market, 1906.
Jigstar film star card game by Murphy Games Ltd, 1936.
Black Peter card game designed by Willy Mayrl for Piatnik.
Bull fighting card game publshed by Naipes Comas, 1969.
“Countries of Empire” published by John Jaques & Son Ltd, c.1930s.
Majas Alfabets Spel beautifully illustrated by Lena Andersson, 1980s.
Gulliver in the Land of Dwarfs quartet published by Verlag für Lehrmittel, Pößneck.