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CWS Printing Works

The C.W.S. Printing Works at Longsight, Manchester, was the Co-operative Wholesale Society's printing division, set up to print labels and packaging for their range of products.

Labor and Wait

CWS Printing Works, Longsight, Manchester

The Co-operative Wholesale Society (CWS) was originally established in 1863 and the Scottish CWS followed in 1868. This is the time when steam and then electricity were the great forces behind industrial expansion, the fight for women's suffrage began in earnest with committees set up in London in 1865 and Manchester in 1867. And by the 1870s Boddingtons had become the city's biggest brewery. A full history of The Co-operative can be read here

The C.W.S. Printing Works at Longsight, Manchester, was the Co-operative Wholesale Society's printing division, presumably set up to print labels and packaging for their range of products. During the 1930s a range of advertising playing cards and children's card games was produced promoting various products from the Co-op's range. The Ace of Spades features the wheatsheaf motif in the centre with the legend "Labor and Wait" on a banderole, with "C.W.S.Printing Works Longsight Manchester" beneath. The Joker is a full-length jester holding a bauble.

advertising playing cards manufactured by C.W.S. Printing Works, Longsight, Manchester during the 1930s

Above: advertising playing cards manufactured by C.W.S. Printing Works, Longsight, Manchester during the 1930s.


C.W.S. “Snap” Games

At least six different C.W.S. Snap games were published by the English & Scottish Joint Co-operative Wholesale Society Limited and printed at their printing works in Longsight, Manchester during the 1930s.

Tea is filling the Nation’s Teapot

Right & Below: “Rose of the Orient Tea Snap” cards manufactured by C.W.S. Printing Works, Longsight, Manchester during the 1930s. 48 cards; 12 sets of four identical cards showing various stages in the cultivation and production of tea on C.W.S. plantations.


There are two types of tea. India and Ceylon produced black tea. China produced both black tea and green tea. Both are produced from the same plant. Leaves are steamed and dried to produce green tea. Black tea undergoes fermentation and further oxidization. In 1879, over 70 percent of the teas sold in London were from China. By 1900 China’s share had dramatically declined to 10 percent and the black teas from India and Ceylon constituted the bulk of the market   more

2nd Film Series ‘Game of Snap’

2nd Film Series ‘Game of Snap’ depicting tea drinkers and production estates in Ceylon, published by the English & Scottish Joint C.W.S., 1930s.  See the Rules

2nd Film Series ‘Game of Snap’ published by the English & Scottish Joint C.W.S., 1930s

Above: 2nd Film Series ‘Game of Snap’ published by the English & Scottish Joint C.W.S., 1930s.

3rd Series ‘Game of Snap’

3rd Series ‘Game of Snap’ depicting history and scenes from the tea trade.  See the Rules

3rd Series ‘Game of Snap’ published by the English & Scottish Joint C.W.S., 1930s

Above: 3rd Series ‘Game of Snap’ published by the English & Scottish Joint C.W.S., 1930s.

4th Series ‘Game of Snap’

See the Rules

4th Series ‘Game of Snap’ published by the English & Scottish Joint C.W.S., 1930s

Above: 4th Series ‘Game of Snap’ published by the English & Scottish Joint C.W.S., 1930s.

Other C.W.S. ‘Snap’ games

“Game of Snap” manufactured by C.W.S. Printing Works, Manchester during the 1930s

Above: another “Game of Snap” manufactured by C.W.S. Printing Works, Manchester during the 1930s. The reverse features the wheatsheaf motif with the legend "Labor and Wait".

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By Rex Pitts (1940-2021)

Member since January 30, 2009

View Articles

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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