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Published October 08, 2013 Updated July 27, 2022

Contraband

Contraband by Pepys Games was first published in early 1950s.

1950 United Kingdom Pepys Currency Card Games Add to Collection

Contraband by Pepys Games was first published in the early 1950s and was to become one of the most popular Pepys games of this period. There were at least 3 later editions and some of the changes are shown below. The object of the game is to smuggle contraband through customs and avoid paying duty on articles represented by the cards.

Interestingly nylon stockings are one of the duty-payable goods, an item greatly prized in the immediate post war years!

1st Edition

The first edition has blue card backs and no captions with duty or fines on the goods cards. The Whisky bottle has the name “Whiskey” on it; later editions corrected it to “Whisky” (the spelling with an “e” is Irish).

Contraband by Pepys Games, early 1950s Contraband by Pepys Games, early 1950s

Above: 1st edition of Contraband by Pepys Games, early 1950s, including the toy currency printed on coloured card. Blue backs.

Contraband by Pepys Games, c.1950
Contraband by Pepys Games, c.1957

2nd Edition

The second edition has the duty values and fines printed on the cards and has red backs.

Contraband by Pepys Games, c.1957 Contraband by Pepys Games, c.1957

Above: 2nd edition of Contraband by Pepys Games, c.1957. The paper currency is printed on different colour paper.

3rd Edition

Contraband by Pepys Games, c.1963

Above: 3rd edition of Contraband by Pepys Games, c.1963. Some of the duty values and fines are altered and the card backs are changed to red.

A Scandinavian version of the game was published in Finland by Forlag Bildkonst, c.1958  Contraband is also produced in facsimile by Lagoon Games.

Contraband by Pepys Games, c.1963
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By Rex Pitts (1940-2021)

Member since January 30, 2009

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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