A mid-twentieth century box of Thomas De La Rue Boudoir playing cards.
The cards are enclosed in an imitation red shagreen box with Thomas De La Rue brass maker’s plaque to the lid showing the company’s “by appointment to her majesty the Queen” coat of arms and the title “boudoir playing cards” below.
I imagine Her Majesty would have objected to the interior but encased are two original sets of playing cards depicting topless women in somewhat classical poses. One packet is open but the other has its original three pence duty wrapping intact and in good condition. Owing to the control on importation of playing cards which had been in place since the seventeenth century, most cards of the period contained a duty wrapper and we can accurately date these cards to between 1952 & 1955 owing to the fact that the fine for non-cancellation of the stamp was £20. Previously, non-cancellation incurred a £5 fine and a £20 fine for re-use. After 1955 most duty wrappers do not show a fine and it was abolished in 1960.
Thomas De La Rue was one of the finest playing card manufacturers of the period. He was born in Guernsey in 1793 and was apprenticed there as a printer. In 1818 he moved to London but did not start to manufacture playing cards until 1832 following a patent for pneumatic playing cards in 1831. These cards are effectively the type that are recognisable today. They had previously been printed from woodblocks and hand coloured. With his new manufacture technique and the employment of famous designers such as Owen Jones, De La Rue’s output increased and numerous overseas outlets were opened. Trade continued to increase until the printing works of De La Rue at Bunhill Row in London were destroyed during the blitz and manufacture was then undertaken by Waddingtons of Leeds. The two companies eventually joined forces with De La Rue selling out to Waddingtons in 1969. De La Rue had diversified by this point into bank note manufacture and continue to trade to this day although it is now outside of family ownership.
A rare set of De La Rue cards and in lovely condition.