Comments on William Taunton, on Zetema, and on cover-designs for Goodall . . .

I suppose that the two best-known designers of covers for Goodall card-game booklets were John Leighton and William Taunton.  Both of these gentlemen were also known by other names.  In Taunton’s case, the other name was Walter Pelham.  And Leighton was also known as Luke Limner.

I believe that Taunton’s full name was Walter Frederic Taunton, though his name is often seen with a “k” at the end of his middle name.

In this post, I want to talk a little about Taunton, or Pelham.  This is not to be any kind of biography of the man.  Mike Goodall recently sent me an article that he wrote about Taunton, which was published in The Playing Card, January-March, 2006.  I had not seen the article before, so I was glad to see it.  It includes biographical information, as well as reproductions of several covers Taunton designed.

Mike points out in the article that Taunton went to work for Goodall in 1870, and that in 1871 he moved to Hunt.  Mike states that Taunton invented the game of Zetema while with Hunt, and that he designed the booklet cover.  (I believe that information along those lines is also in Mike’s year-2000 book on the Goodalls.)

One of the things mentioned in Mike’s article was that among Taunton’s children was a daughter born September 18, 1872, who was named Zetema.  Mike notes that she was born near the time Zetema (the game) was released.

References to the game during the nineteenth century, on Google Books, do not appear to be numerous.  Two articles in Once a Week, in 1873, seem to suggest that it was a new game at that time.  Here is a link to the main article, from October 18, 1873.  The March 1, 1873 issue has a very brief reference to the game.

A little advertisement in The Brisbane Courier, December 23, 1873, on I believe page 1, toward the bottom of column three, treats it as a new game.  Likewise, a full-page advertisement in second edition of The Civil Service Year Book and Official Calendar 1874 (which based on contents, I would assume first appeared in early 1874), refers to the game as Hunt’s “New & Fashionable Game of Zetema.”  (I have changed the capitalization.)  Clearly, though, whether the game was “new” then or not was a matter of opinion, for the game was roughly a year old at the time.

The wording on the cover of the Zetema card-game booklet with Taunton’s cover (based on the reproduction accompanying Mike’s article) says, in part, “Rules & Directions for Playing the New & Fashionable Game of Zetema.”  Notice the use of the expression “New & Fashionable.”

In the next few posts, I hope to delve into the subject in more depth.  While we “know” that Taunton designed certain covers for Goodall, this knowledge is based (as far as I know) on work he did for Hunt, and on other examples of his work — although maybe the design of the Zetema booklet is attributable to him based largely on his other work.  But it appears that there is plenty of such evidence!

—Tom Sawyer

January 23, 2013

About 508 words.

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