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Waddingtons Aces of Spades, 1970 onwards

Waddingtons Aces of Spades, 1970 onwards

In 1969-70 De La Rue sold out their playing card interests to Waddington’s, who then became the sole manufacturer of playing cards in the UK. Around this time Waddingtons re-designed their ace of spades into something based on De la Rue’s earlier 125th anniversary design but without the silhouette in the centre. Although contrived to resemble woodblock printing it carried elements from De la Rue’s original engraved ace of spades of 1862; shamrock leaves, thistles and roses, which are all repeated in the central ornament, with a crown at the top. The progression is shown here:

Above: similar symbolic motifs running through the De la Rue and Waddingtons aces of spades.

The same style of ace was also used for the Amalgamated Playing Card Co until 1971, when Waddington’s purchased De La Rue's share of APCC; and also in Wheel aces for Pepys.

1970

Above: playing Cards manufactured by Waddington’s for The Amalgamated Playing Card Co Ltd, c.1970. See also: ‘Cir-Q-Lar’ playing cards, Amalgamated Playing Card Co Ltd, c.1970

100 Pipers Scotch Whisky promotional deck, Waddingtons P.C.Co., c.1973

Above: 100 Pipers Scotch Whisky promotional deck, Waddingtons P.C.Co., c.1973  more

Argos, c.1973

Above: Argos, c.1973.

  • See more examples 1970-1973 →

    Save the Children Fund, early 1970s

    Above: Save the Children Fund, single-colour back design and poor print quality, early 1970s.

    Doncella Coronets Cigars, early 1970s

    Above: Doncella Coronets Cigars, early 1970s.

    Dunhill International, c.1972

    Above: Dunhill International, c.1972.

    Brooke Bond Oxo, 1973

    Above: Brooke Bond Oxo, 1973. We can date it so accurately by the design on the back, the Surtees racing team utilised the TS14A car in 1973 only.

    Waddingtons Zodiac Club Playing Cards for Pepys  c.1972

    Above: Waddingtons ‘Zodiac Club Playing Cards’ for Pepys, after Alf Cooke was taken over by the Amalgamated Playing Card Company Ltd in 1971. Image courtesy Ken Lodge.

advertising deck for Oranjeboom lager beer, late 1970's

Above: a simplified version of the ace of spades with the same lettering was used in Easy to See, large-index packs. c.1974-80. Image courtesy Matt Probert.

Welsh Leek Added in 1974

The Welsh leek was added to the decoration of the ace of spades in 1974. While the preferred Welsh national symbol is often a daffodil, a dragon or a harp, the leek is an ancient traditional emblem for Wales. The British £1 coin representing the Welsh part of the United Kingdom has a leek on the reverse. Thus the ace of spades design combines heraldic elements that reflect the legal jurisdictions of the United Kingdom: the Tudor rose for England, the leek for Wales, the thistle for Scotland and the shamrock for Ireland, all topped by a Royal Crown.

1975

Above: 32nd European Bridge Championships, 1975

Sovereign playing cards printed by Waddingtons, c.1975

Above: Sovereign playing cards printed by Waddingtons, c.1975

Bridge playing cards printed by Waddingtons, c.1980

Above: Bridge playing cards printed by Waddingtons, c.1980

1982

Above: the registered trademark symbol ® appears on the joker late 1982 start of 1983.

  • See more examples c.1983-1994 →

    1984

    Above: 1984

    1985

    Above: various advertising backs from this period.

    1985

    Above: 1985

    Advertising deck for TGWU by Waddingtons

    Above: advertising deck for TGWU by Waddingtons.

    Advertising deck for Magic Circle by Waddingtons

    Above: advertising deck for Magic Circle by Waddingtons.

    Advertising deck for Precise Coltène by Waddingtons

    Above: advertising deck for Precise Coltène by Waddingtons. The cards are smooth finish, but good quality and nicely printed.

    Advertising deck for John Player Superkings by Waddingtons

    Above: advertising deck for John Player Superkings by Waddingtons Playing Card Co Ltd

    patience sized pack published for Penguin books in c.1975

    Above: patience sized pack published for Penguin books in c.1975 with the Goodall cross-legged joker and older-style Waddington's courts. All above images courtesy Matt Probert.

Lettering Simplified, early 1990s

From the early 1990s packs appear with the words “Leeds and London” omitted from the ace of spades.

British Airways, 1990s

Above: British Airways pack with simplified lettering on the ace of spades, 1990s.

Hasbro, a large toy company, bought Waddington's Games in 1994. Waddington’s No.1 Playing Cards are still a best seller in Britain, but today they are manufactured in Poland and marketed by Winning Moves, who bought the brand from Hasbro.

London 2012

Above: "Union Flag" deck from the London 2012 Olympics (produced in 2008 by Winning Moves). The legend inside the ace has been simplified.

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By Simon Wintle

Member since February 01, 1996

View Articles

Curator and editor of the World of Playing Cards since 1996. He is a former committee member of the IPCS and was graphics editor of The Playing-Card journal for many years. He has lived at various times in Chile, England and Wales and is currently living in Extremadura, Spain. Simon's first limited edition pack of playing cards was a replica of a seventeenth century traditional English pack, which he produced from woodblocks and stencils.


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