Tower Press was founded in the 1930s by Hans Ehrlich and Bernard Saalheim producing cardboard goods. In the post-war era, when rationing had only just ceased and when people didn't have a lot, it was a time when folks made the best of what they had, enjoying the simple things in life. This series of card games for children published by Tower Press during the 1950s and early '60s evokes the optimism, innocence and love of fun which is often missing today. This was the time when the baby boom was in full swing. More people were getting married and having children. Dad brought home the pay, Mum did the cooking and cleaning, and the kids were respectful and well-behaved, perhaps playing card games like the ones shown here...
Tower Press produced a total of 31 different games in their series over the years, plus 2 miniature versions and 2 giant version together with the Wilfrid Pickles game. They produced many series of card games in batches of five, beginning with the 5100 series and reaching a 6600 series at the time they were bought by Waddingtons. In addition to the odd special games they also issued the entire current series of games in one long pack entitled “House of Cards” containing all five over several years quite probably for Christmas.
The early boxes
Tower Press card game boxes arranged in chronological order.
Fairy Tale Snap, no. 5292
Funny Face Snap, no. 5369
Beat your Neighbours, no. 5481
Beat your Neighbours, no. 5613
Old Maid, no. 5614
Old Maid card games were popular in other countries, re-titled as Black Peter (Schwarzer Peter) in Germany, Zwarte Piet (Netherlands), Svarte Petter (Sweden) and Pekka-Peli (Finland). The main focus of the game is towards the last card, which might be a black cat, an Old Maid, black-faced chimney sweep or black grotesque character. The player who ends up holding this card is the loser in the game. This reflects a time when it was socially acceptable to make fun of people perceived to be of lower status. In the example below some of the ethnic stereotypes might be questioned today.
Happy Families, no. 5616
Old Maid, no. 5732
Playtime Snap No.5730
Old Maid, no. 5862
Donkey, no. 5863
Happy Families, no. 5864
Other card game titles published by Tower Press include: Ask Pickles No.6258; Donkey No.2061; Happy Families No.5367; Popeye Knock Out No.6586; Mother Goose Nursery Rhyme Snap; Huckleberry Hound 'Booby' No.6648; New Money Snap, etc. Tower Press also published Jig-Saw puzzles, Cardboard Stacking Boxes, etc., as well as a children's pack in the 1950s using court cards based on Waddington's designs. Their games and jig-saws were exported to many countries particularly Australia, Belgium, The Netherlands and New Zealand. Tower Press was acquired by Guiterman and became a member of the Guiterman Group in 1961. In 1969 the business was bought by Waddingtons.
Tower Press produced many series of card games in batches of five games beginning with the 5100 series and reached a 6600 series at the time they were bought by Waddingtons. The final series of five games was published by Waddingtons with a big improvement in the quality of the cards and continuing the series of five games numbering them as a 2000 series. No more were produced after this.
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.
A limited edition art print of the Jack of Clubs 1984 woodblock joker.
A limited edition art print of the Queen of Clubs 1984 woodblock joker.
A few new games survived and are still around today; most came and went and are only witnessed in th...
A miniature set of Goodall domino cards (5.9 x 3.5 cms) still in perfect condition.
“1952-2002 commemorative deck” customised with doodles by an uncredited artist, UK, 2011.
“Playing Politics ’10: With no expenses spared” featuring caricatures by Oliver Preston, published b...
Playing Politics ’92: Pack of lies with caricatures by Grant Robertson, UK.
Facsimile of Winstanley’s Geographical cards produced by Harold & Virginia Wayland, 1967.
Great inventions playing cards designed by Gary Wyatt, United Kingdom, 2011.
Festive courts on a Waddingtons pack designed to celebrate Christmas 1980.
‘Gone to Pot’: special playing cards for keen gardeners, United Kingdom.
Roy Huteson Stewart's The Tarot Strikes Back combines Star Wars with Rider-Waite tarot imagery.
“Don’t come back” playing cards produced by Hounslow NHS Primary Care Trust and Feltham Young Offend...
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Katie Abey’s rainbow-coloured designs using crazy animals to convey motivating phrases.
On-line offsite data backup publicity playing cards produced by The Bunker, United Kingdom, c. 2004....
54 different dinosaurs, both large and small, illustrated by Cecilia Fitzsimons.
Commemorative Olympic Playing Cards produced by Waddingtons exclusively for Stanley Gibbons Antiquar...
Clamcleats playing cards for sailors designed by Celia Allison, New Zealand, 1986.
“Around the world in 54 cards” hand-coloured transformation pack produced by Peter Wood, United King...
Jessel’s Bibliography of works in English on Playing Cards and Gaming describes “The first book on P...
Characters from The Broons and Oor Wullie comic strips on their 75th anniversary.
A catalogue in 54 cards of some of the treasures held within the Museum of London collections.
The first company to register Bezique materials with Stationers’ Hall was Josh Reynolds & Son in Sep...