The World of Playing Cards Logo
Published November 02, 2011 Updated June 12, 2023

Kimberley

Kimberley’s Royal National Patriotic playing cards, c.1892-1905.

United Kingdom Kimberley & Sons Patriotic Add to Collection
detail of box from Kimberley's Royal National Patriotic playing cards

Above: detail from one of the two-part sliding boxes. David Kimberley & Sons, who published the cards, were not previously printers or publishers but manufacturers of carpenters' saws and planes in Birmingham at that time.

Kimberley’s Royal National Patriotic playing cards, c.1892-1905.

“They differ from ordinary cards in having combined with each suit a special distinct nationality of style and appearance. Instead of the ordinary Ace card, I make an Ace which exhibits an illustration of the representative flag of that suit's nationality. Instead of the normal King, Queen and Knave I propose to place a good portrait of the rulers or representatives of the countries indicated...”

Kimberley’s “National Patriotic” playing cards represent four nations: Diamonds represent England, Hearts represent America, Spades represent France and Clubs represent Germany. The Ace card of each suit represents the ‘Royal Standard’ or flag of each Nation. For England (Diamonds) the Union Jack; for America (Hearts) the Stars and Stripes; for France (Spades) the National Colours and for Germany (Clubs) their Royal Standard. Courts represent contemporary and past royalty. The backs usually show an array of clocks in various colours.

The First Edition c.1892-93

Kimberley's Royal National Patriotic playing cards, first edition c.1892-3

Above: Kimberley's Royal National Patriotic playing cards, first edition c.1892-3. The court cards are richly coloured and incorporate gold   see more →

The numerals follow a scheme proposed by Kimberley in his patent application of 1892: a large suit-sign occupies the centre of the card, with the numeric value voided in it twice. The pack has non-standard aces, non-standard courts, non-standard colours for pips (spades are blue, hearts maroon) and the pips on the numeral cards occupy almost the entire card.

Kimberley's Royal National Patriotic playing cards, first edition c.1892-3

Above: numeral cards from Kimberley's Royal National Patriotic playing cards, first edition c.1892-3. This is the only version with giant suit marks on cards 2 to 10; subsequent editions had conventional suit marks   see more →

The cards bear no advertising, nor is there any indication that the cards were intended for commemorative purposes. The fact that they ran into at least five distinct editions suggests they were popular during their ten or twelve years of production, i.e. c.1892-c.1905.

The Second Edition c.1893-97

The court cards and Aces are the same in the first and second editions. Only the numeral cards differ.

Kimberley's Royal National Patriotic playing cards, second edition c.1893-96

Above: numeral cards from Kimberley's Royal National Patriotic playing cards, second edition c.1893-97. The numeral cards have conventional suit sign sizes and arrangement.

The Fourth Edition c.1899-1901

Kimberley's Royal National Patriotic playing cards

Above: Kimberley's Royal National Patriotic playing cards from the fourth edition published c.1899-1901. The Jack of Hearts is a typical representative from the U.S. Navy of the time. The King of Clubs shows Kaiser Wilhelm II. Unlike the first edition which was printed in luxurious colour lithography including gold, the designs here are rendered by means of fine outlines, stipple printed in black, with areas of mainly flat colour. The back design in this edition features a clock design ~ click image to zoom ~ and the set has an additional red descriptive card.

The Fifth Edition c.1902-05

Kimberley's Royal National Patriotic playing cards, c.1902

Above: Kimberley's Royal National Patriotic playing cards from the fifth edition published during c.1902-5 with conventional corner indices. This edition also contained a Joker depicting a lady holding a card. The differences between the different editions in quality and method of printing suggest different printers were involved.   See more →


REFERENCES

Denning, Trevor, "Kimberley's Royal National Patriotic Playing Cards" in the Newsletter, EPCS May 1984, pp.6-7.

All images on this page from the collection of Barney Townshend.

avatar
131 Articles

By Barney Townshend

Member since October 06, 2015

Retired Airline Pilot, interested in: Transformation Playing Cards, Karl Gerich and Elaine Lewis. Secretary of the EPCS. Treasurer of the IPCS.


Related Articles

Woodblock and Stencil Jack of Clubs

Woodblock and Stencil Jack of Clubs

A limited edition art print of the Jack of Clubs 1984 woodblock joker.

Woodblock and Stencil Queen of Clubs

Woodblock and Stencil Queen of Clubs

A limited edition art print of the Queen of Clubs 1984 woodblock joker.

Woodblock and Stencil Joker

Woodblock and Stencil Joker

A limited edition art print of the 1984 woodblock joker.

Woodblock and Stencil Jack of Hearts

Woodblock and Stencil Jack of Hearts

A limited edition art print of the Jack of Hearts 1984 woodblock joker.

1904 Miniature Card Dominoes

Miniature Card Dominoes

A miniature set of Goodall domino cards (5.9 x 3.5 cms) still in perfect condition.

1875 T. Drayton & Son

T. Drayton & Son

Bezique and Whist boxed sets by T. Drayton & Son, London, c.1875.

2011 Colour doodle deck

Colour doodle deck

“1952-2002 commemorative deck” customised with doodles by an uncredited artist, UK, 2011.

2020 Alice in Wonderland: we’re all mad here

Alice in Wonderland: we’re all mad here

Alice in Wonderland themed playing cards, UK, 2020.

2023 Wren 300 playing cards

Wren 300 playing cards

Papercuts by Chloe Campbell of the 52 Wren churches in the City of London.

2023 Marlow playing cards

Marlow playing cards

Visitor attractions and businesses to be found in Marlow, Buckinghamshire.

2010 Playing Politics 2010

Playing Politics 2010

“Playing Politics ’10: With no expenses spared” featuring caricatures by Oliver Preston, published b...

1992 Playing Politics ’92: Pack of lies

Playing Politics ’92: Pack of lies

Playing Politics ’92: Pack of lies with caricatures by Grant Robertson, UK.

2005 B-Deck

B-Deck

“B-Deck” scurrilous playing cards poking fun at a former UK prime minister.

1967 Winstanley Geographical cards

Winstanley Geographical cards

Facsimile of Winstanley’s Geographical cards produced by Harold & Virginia Wayland, 1967.

1971 Meal Tub Plot

Meal Tub Plot

Meal Tub Plot playing cards [facsimile] with 17th century sketches by Francis Barlow.

Golf playing cards

Golf playing cards

Golf playing cards published by Marks & Spencer, UK.

2011 Great inventions playing cards

Great inventions playing cards

Great inventions playing cards designed by Gary Wyatt, United Kingdom, 2011.

1980 Christmas 1980 playing cards

Christmas 1980 playing cards

Festive courts on a Waddingtons pack designed to celebrate Christmas 1980.

Gone to Pot: Gardener’s playing cards

Gone to Pot: Gardener’s playing cards

‘Gone to Pot’: special playing cards for keen gardeners, United Kingdom.

2023 The Tarot Strikes Back

The Tarot Strikes Back

Roy Huteson Stewart's The Tarot Strikes Back combines Star Wars with Rider-Waite tarot imagery.

Tottering-by-Gently

Tottering-by-Gently

‘Tottering-by-Gently’ playing cards with cartoons by Annie Tempest.

1990 Sally Ferries Euro playing cards

Sally Ferries Euro playing cards

Sally Ferries Euro playing cards and phrase pack, United Kingdom.

Don’t come back

Don’t come back

“Don’t come back” playing cards produced by Hounslow NHS Primary Care Trust and Feltham Young Offend...

1998 From Empire to Commonwealth

From Empire to Commonwealth

Flags, locations and admission dates of 52 Commonwealth countries.

2023 House of Tudor

House of Tudor

Randy Butterfield's House of Tudor playing cards feature detailed art in a high-quality collectible ...

75: Early American cards

75: Early American cards

An overview of some of the early cards made in the United States.

2020 The Pack of Positivity

The Pack of Positivity

Katie Abey’s rainbow-coloured designs using crazy animals to convey motivating phrases.

2004 On-line offsite data backup

On-line offsite data backup

On-line offsite data backup publicity playing cards produced by The Bunker, United Kingdom, c. 2004....

2002 The Famous Dinosaurs Playing Cards

The Famous Dinosaurs Playing Cards

54 different dinosaurs, both large and small, illustrated by Cecilia Fitzsimons.

1980 Commemorative Olympic Playing Cards

Commemorative Olympic Playing Cards

Commemorative Olympic Playing Cards produced by Waddingtons exclusively for Stanley Gibbons Antiquar...

2015 Dorset Dialect Trails

Dorset Dialect Trails

‘Dorset Dialect Trails’ playing cards, United Kingdom, 2015.

1986 Clamcleats playing cards

Clamcleats playing cards

Clamcleats playing cards for sailors designed by Celia Allison, New Zealand, 1986.

2008 Around the world in 54 cards

Around the world in 54 cards

“Around the world in 54 cards” hand-coloured transformation pack produced by Peter Wood, United King...

2008 The Journey

The Journey

‘The Journey’ limited edition playing cards produced by Peter Wood, UK, 2008.

Pretty Frills

Pretty Frills

‘Pretty Frills’ playing cards promoting curtain and blind accessories.

1859 The Origin of Patience Games in English

The Origin of Patience Games in English

Jessel’s Bibliography of works in English on Playing Cards and Gaming describes “The first book on P...

2011 The Broons and Oor Wullie playing cards

The Broons and Oor Wullie playing cards

Characters from The Broons and Oor Wullie comic strips on their 75th anniversary.

2009 History of London illustrated playing cards

History of London illustrated playing cards

A catalogue in 54 cards of some of the treasures held within the Museum of London collections.

2006 Ladbroke Sporting Casino

Ladbroke Sporting Casino

Ladbroke Sporting Casino caricature cartoon playing cards, U.K, c.2006.

1869 The Evolution of Bezique boxed sets, 1869 to 1990

The Evolution of Bezique boxed sets, 1869 to 1990

The first company to register Bezique materials with Stationers’ Hall was Josh Reynolds & Son in Sep...

1915 Goodall 1915-1916 Sample Book

Goodall 1915-1916 Sample Book

Complete contents of a sample book by Goodall & Sons

1916 Goodall 1916 Rockleigh Sample Book

Goodall 1916 Rockleigh Sample Book

Complete contents of a sample book by Goodall

1879 Goodall 1879-1880 Sample Book

Goodall 1879-1880 Sample Book

Complete contents of a sample book by Goodall & Sons

1933 De La Rue 1932-1933 Sample Book of Advertising cards

De La Rue 1932-1933 Sample Book of Advertising cards

Complete contents of a sample book of advertising cards by De La Rue