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Published March 30, 2023 Updated March 30, 2023

Monkey Shoulder playing cards

Monkey Shoulder whisky advertising playing cards, United Kingdom.

Scotland United Kingdom Distillery Whisky Add to Collection

Monkey Shoulder is a brand of whisky created by William Grant & Sons, a major Scottish family distiller. Monkey Shoulder is blended from three of Speyside's finest single malts (Balvenie, Glenfiddich and Kininvie) using batches of just 27 casks for a smoother, richer taste for mixing to make perfect whisky cocktails. It was crafted by Grant’s Master Blender Brian Kinsman in 2003. See the box

This pack was clearly produced to promote and advertise the whisky, and monkeys feature prominently on all 52 cards and the 2 jokers. On the pip cards they can be seen swinging freely, with 3 or 4 monkeys on each card, while on the court cards they are swinging and holding a standard jack, queen or king court to indicate their rank. There is an extra card explaining the rules and ranking of Monkey Poker. See the rules

Monkey Shoulder whisky advertising playing cards, United Kingdom Monkey Shoulder whisky advertising playing cards, United Kingdom Monkey Shoulder whisky advertising playing cards, United Kingdom

Above: Monkey Shoulder whisky advertising playing cards, United Kingdom. Manufacturer / date unknown.

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By Peter Burnett

Member since July 27, 2022

I graduated in Russian and East European Studies from Birmingham University in 1969. It was as an undergraduate in Moscow in 1968 that I stumbled upon my first 3 packs of “unusual” playing cards which fired my curiosity and thence my life-long interest. I began researching and collecting cards in the early 1970s, since when I’ve acquired over 3,330 packs of non-standard cards, mainly from North America, UK and Western Europe, and of course from Russia and the former communist countries.

Russian Playing Cards

Following my retirement from the Bodleian Library in Dec. 2007 I took up a new role as Head of Library Development at the International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications (INASP) to support library development in low-income countries. This work necessitated regular training visits to many sub-Saharan African countries and also further afield, to Vietnam, Nepal and Bangladesh – all of which provided rich opportunities to further expand my playing card collection.

Since 2019 I’ve been working part-time in the Bodleian Library where I’ve been cataloguing the bequest of the late Donald Welsh, founder of the English Playing Card Society.


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