“The History of the Decline and Fall of Goodall Card-Game Booklets,” by Edward Gibbon . . .

Okay, so Edward Gibbon (1737-1794) did not write a book by that title, though he could have, if he had lived 150 years later than he did.

This blog mainly has focussed on the Goodall card-game booklets to 1922 or thereabouts. In some ways, the era of the 1860s through around 1920 can be considered the “golden age” of card-game booklets, and this is due principally to the publications of Charles Goodall & Son during that time. In my collection, I do have a fair number of De La Rue booklets from that period, but I have never focussed much on them.

In earlier posts I have talked about the transition from Goodall as an independent firm to one that was apparently controlled mainly by De La Rue, beginning in the 1921-1922 era.

It does appear that there was something akin to a quasi-independence at the start of that Goodall-De La Rue combination. The De La Rue brand and the Goodall brand (on occasion) could seem completely independent even after 1922.

An example of this is the card-game booklet on the right, below, which bears the date 1923 on the title page. I see no evidence that De La Rue played any role in that booklet.


Anyway, the booklet on the left is dated 1909 (and is solidly Goodall), and overall it looks nicer than the one on the right. The printing is poorly centered on the one on the right.  The color is more drab. Also, there are the two spaces toward the bottom of the booklet on the right, where the price  is found on some booklets. That does not look as good as the same part of on the copy at the left, which has the little vertical decorations.

But okay, maybe that all adds up to nothing.  And the copy on the right does have gilt edges, which the 1909 copy does not.

But the six booklets portrayed below are my real “Exhibit A.”


I have tried to place them in approximate chronological order, left to right in the top row, followed by left to right in the bottom row. The dates are 1927, 1929, 1929,  and in the bottom row circa 1936 [based on interior advertising], no date, and no date.

I would love to have heard some of the discussions that took place in connection with the revamping of the Goodall designs. I suppose that the earlier-style designs were considered too old-fashioned, but today the six designs above would be considered nothing more than barely serviceable. I also suspect that cost was a factor, for the above six were cheap productions.  None has gilt edges. The material for the covers was undoubtedly cheaper than that of the typical Goodall booklet of earlier days.

I also have problems with the monograms. The earlier ones appear to be a TDLR monogram, but you would never be able to figure that out if you did not already know the name of the company. The “D” is backwards, and the “L” is formed by adding a horizontal projection to the “T.” The “T” appears to be the chief letter of the monogram, while it stands for the least important word in the company name.

The two clubs and a spade (in outline form) are almost invisible, when compared to the two red hearts and the two red diamonds. Logically, if these were to be any emphasis, the spade should be played up the most (consistent with the importance of the Ace of Spades), yet the spade shown does not even look like a proper spade.

And note that only two of the books show any authorship or editorship on the front.

The next monogram appears to be DLRS, for De La Rue Stationers. Here the L or the S appear to be the main letter — but again they are unimportant letters in the company name.

You might say, “Well, but the interiors in the De La Rue-Goodall booklets must have been fine.”

Not always.  Here is a comparison of a few. First a couple of true-blue Goodall examples:


Next, two versions from after the merger.  The sections with type look are too close to the bottom of the page, and portions of the text boxes are not parallel with the page edges.This may be due in part to trimming that was not always “in square.” Also, to those who are used to the printing on the inside covers of Goodall booklets, the blank areas below look uninteresting, to say the least:


What about the back covers?  A lot of the post-merger examples are similar to the pure-Goodall examples. But check out this image.  The top item is a bona fide Goodall booklet (1909 Selected Patience Games), the bottom a De La Rue (undated Piquet):


At least from the standpoint of a collector, the Goodall is more artistic, and vastly more interesting than the plain-Jane company name and address of the De La Rue.

—Tom Sawyer

February 22, 2017

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to “The History of the Decline and Fall of Goodall Card-Game Booklets,” by Edward Gibbon . . .

  1. Tony Hall says:

    Hi, Interesting comments, as ever. I too am intrigued by the new De la Rue design from the late 1920s. Oddly outdated even then, they seem to draw from art nouveau designs than the art deco which would have been more in vogue at the time.

Comments are closed.