Who are the People in Your Neighborhood?

Happy Families Vintage Card Game.

One Happy Family.

One Happy Family.

Every time we venture to England, we find things we’ve never seen before. Dealers are always kind to explain their wares to the “naive Americans”. On our last trip, we spotted some crazy cool playing cards. The vintage cards featured characters with extremely large heads and bright red lips. As usual, we are drawn to visually appealing vintage arts and crafts. This time, when we inquired about them, the dealer looked astonished; he couldn’t believe we’d never heard of the Happy Families game. He and his wife explained the jest of the game and said it was a popular game in the UK.

The original card game was developed in 1851 by John Jaques, the creator of tiddlywinks and snakes and ladders. Artist John Tenniel is often credited with drawing the original illustrations of the family members because of the similarities to his work with Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”. Multiple versions of the game were manufactured by several companies and versions are still be produced today. The deck, which we purchased, was made in Bavaria c. 1925 by the J.W. Spear (& Sons) Company. They had a factory in Nuremberg Germany and in Enfield UK (1932). The company has an interesting history because of World War II. Since they were Jewish, they were forced to relinquish their Germany plant and move their operations to the UK. One son died in a concentration camp. A sad family story.


The entire Happy Families card game.

The entire Happy Families card game.

We like the Happy Family cards. Our deck has 9 complete families, each with a father, mother, son and daughter. The families are based on the father’s occupations. The object of the game is to collect as many whole families you can, like the Go Fish card game. The illustrations are wonderful and quite interesting. We’re sure some talented customer will find a way to use or repurpose them.

If we had to pick our neighbors, we’d pick the Saw family; they look fairly normal. On  the other hand, we’re a bit concerned about the Stain family! Maybe they’re just having a really bad day. And Master Thread likes those BIG scissors a-little too much. We think this neighborhood may be addicted to Botox!


Two more happy families.

Two more happy families.

In our neighborhood, we have a Teacher family, a Delivery family, a Real Estate family, a Manufacturer family, an Antique family. Who’s in your neighborhood?


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Filed under Knowledge/History of Antique Item

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