Monday, May 5, 2014

Pepys Snow White Card Game by Castell, c.1950

According to author Rex Pitts at The World of Playing Cards, the Castell Brothers company of London was founded in 1878. They sold a range of stationery items and greeting cards referred to as 'Pepys Parchment'. In the late 1930s, with the immense popularity of Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the paper company decided to get in on the action by producing a game.

Their 1937 Snow White card game would be the first of many in the Pepys Series. In 1939, more were released including Mickey's Fun Fair and Shuffled Symphonies. Both featured a mix of Disney characters including Snow White.

Then around 1950, still another Snow White game (below) was issued. The deck contains 44 cards measuring 3.5" x 2.25". The character cards (for Snow White, the Prince, Queen, Witch, and Huntsman) are made up of three suits (red, blue, and yellow) and are numbered 1-11.

Snow White's forest friends are found on the back.

The fourth suit is made up of the Dwarfs, numbered 1-11.

Several online sites mistakenly state that this Snow White deck was produced around 1938-39. Yet, information provided on the Rules booklet helps us narrow down the actual year of production. When the very first set of Pepys Snow White cards was issued by Castell Brothers in 1937-38, their London offices were located at 5 Bridewell Place. They would later move to 9/12 Bow Street, the same address that is printed on this booklet. Then in 1950, Castell Brothers was bought out and their offices moved to St. Cross St, Hatton Garden in London. So we know this booklet was printed much later than 1937 but before the address change of 1950 took effect. Author Rex Pitts states that this Snow White game was issued around 1951. It's possible the booklet could have been printed before the move, but the deck released after.

Another clue is the list of games on the back of the booklet. They all date from the late 1940s and the start of the 1950s, clearly placing our Snow White deck in this same time frame.

The object of the game is to avoid taking tricks containing Witch or Dwarf cards, which count against the holder. The game ends when one player has totaled 200 points. The winner is the player with the lowest score.

The cards came in a blue box with Snow and the gang on one side, Dopey on the other.

However, I recently purchased a deck that came in a brown box with advertising for Paynes Nut & Raisin Poppets. It's possible the game was part of a promotional campaign with the poppet manufacturer.

These cards don't show up very often, though they are listed in The Collectors Encyclopedia of Disneyana by David Longest and Michael Stern, p.146, Collector Books, 1992.

Image via The Collectors Encyclopedia of Disneyana

See the other Snow White-related card games by Castell Brothers:

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