167. John Jaques & Son 1890


The firm of John Jaques and Son created a number of games throughout the nineteenth century, among them a wide variety of card games. The firm was founded in 1795 becoming John Jaques and Son in 1861. Makers of various indoor and outdoor games the company adopted the simpler name J Jaques and Son. John Jaques II won a place in sporting history when he introduced Croquet into England at the Great Exhibition of 1851 and the company continues to lead the market in specialist sporting equipment as Jaques of London.1

In about 1890 they produced a charming set of cards based on counties, possibly for children. Each county was represented twice: once as an outline map of the county with towns and cities marked with a small circle; the second, matching, card portrayed a caricature. The object would have been to turn up two matching cards and make a pair; a form of memory. Each character card also had either a rhyme or a limerick. Although Edward Lear did not invent the limerick he did help to make it popular with his books A Book of Nonsense (pre-1862) and More Nonsense (1872). Devon has a limerick about a lady carrying Devon cream and her cat. The Somerset four-line rhyme is highly amusing:

                        A Zomerzet varmer awoke with a pain,

                        Said he, "is it my stomach, or is it my brain?

                        Whichever it is, there is summit amiss,

                        But a gallon o' zider will zettle all this."

The cards were coloured. Devon has an orange coloured compass. The old lady is coloured: red cloak, green dress and ribbon, orange hat and basket, brown staff, and pink face and hands.

Another set of children’s cards produced about the same time was the pack published by Raphael Tuck. Containing maps of the regions of Great Britain, Devon is shown with Cornwall, Somerset and Dorset. These were reward cards given to good pupils.

Size of card: 58 x 77 mm.                                                                                                                                                          Scale is irrelevant.

Imprint on box: Skits - A Game of the Shires - Published by JAQUES & SON. 102 HATTON GARDEN, LONDON.

Card one - DEVONSHIRE (Ce) and plain map. Compass (Ea). Number 39 (Aa).

Card two - Map of Devon has been overdrawn with a little old lady carrying a basket and a cat and holding a stick. There is a verse above and below the map:

                       This lady with Devonshire cream,

                       Is carefully crossing a stream.

                       O'er stepping-stones wet;

                       But pussy, her pet,

                       To tread on them never would dream.

1.   1890    Skits - A Game of the Shires  
    London. J Jaques & Son. (1890). EB2.


[1] See jaqueslondon.co.uk/about-jaques-london for a short history and modern product range.

[2] The authors are grateful to Eugene Burden for supplying information on these cards and permission to use the illustration. See also his letter to The Map Collector; Issue 56.