Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Variations On A Set Of Victorian Playing Cards

The Bank Holiday is behind us and normality settles around me like a comfort blanket. Routine can be a mesmerising siren: promising safety in place of fear, solace in place of hope. But blink your eyes and she becomes a monster, dripping tedium from her venomous fangs.

Begone, dull care!
I prithee, begone from me
Begone, dull care!
You and I shall never agree
Long time hast thou been tarrying here
And fain thou wouldst me kill
But in faith, dull care
Thou never shall have thy will.

If the pleasure of success can be calculated in units 
(let us call them triumphs)
And an average successful enterprise equals 10 triumphs
How can we calculate the value of a near miss,
A second best, A nearly caught?
We can subtract from the 10 triumphs of success
6 for failure, 2 for disappointment, and 1 for anger
Which leaves but 1
Which goes to show
If at first you don't succeed .... stop trying.


  1. Playing cards and a Bank Holiday - England in a nutshell; it's raining here.

  2. I stopped trying...on some things. My failures surely outnumber any amount of triumphs I'll ever have, wot?

  3. smiles. nah, aint giving up. nice cards though...very cool.

  4. The second card is too funny, Alan. Remember when all the men parted their hair in the middle? There is just something odd about that. And what's with "bank holidays"? Don't other businesses get holidays, too? :)

  5. AngelMay : Sorry, its Britspeak. Public holidays over here are known as "Bank Holidays". They are the only weekdays that banks close. It all dates back, it seems, to the Bank Holidays Act of 1871.

  6. Nothing dull about these delightful cards! Surely they would turn tedium to triumph for most.

  7. ... England in a nutshell...
    I can see aspects of you as being in a nutshell!
    Love these designs. As graphic design is so much of the time & fashion.
    Here's to art history! -J

  8. We're back to regular schedule over here, as well. Your set of cards is just delightful. I'm green with envy. As for the "Begone, Dull Care" song, it's completely new to me, and I thought I was the queen of ditties!

  9. That's a very interesting set of cards. Is there a story behind them? I'm especially interested in the images in them - they look like George Cruikshank's work. I have a copy of Grimms' Fairy Tales illustrated by him (a reprint in paperback, definitely not an original).

  10. Stick,Twist or Bust It All Depends On The Hand Your Delt I Guess.........I wonder if they ever invented waterproof cards for the English weather?

  11. They are unusual in a grotesque illustrative kind of way. I'd love to know what they were used for. Perhaps just collecting? I remember as a kid collecting veritable albums of playing cards just for the pictures printed on the back. An odd hobby but it was really popular for a while. Even surpassed the yoyo and elastics phase for a while.

  12. That is a most intriguing set of cards! Have you struck out on all internet avenues of identifying what game they might be connected to?


Black Friar

For a time, during the late 1970s, I had a job leading parties of foreign visitors on tours of historic London pubs. One of my favourite sto...