A few informal notes on the Chas. Goodall & Son “Ace of Spades” . . .

After working on some of those recent posts, I got to thinking about the Chas. Goodall & Son designs for the Ace of Spaces, which (at least the main one discussed here) was also used in other contexts.

You can see images of many different Goodall designs for the Ace of Spades elsewhere on the internet, for instance on the World of Playing Cards website.

The one with the “nested pips” (I guess you could call them) is, to the best of my knowledge, the only Ace of Spades design used by Goodall in connection with Goodall’s card-game booklets. Many of the booklets include that basic design on their back covers.

Here is an example of that design, from one of my earliest Goodall packs (of which I have only a small number, maybe 20 or so).


Of course, Goodall was making playing cards for decades before this design came into use. The date always shown for the Goodall firm’s earliest playing cards is 1820 — almost 200 years ago!

I am going to explain a few things about this trademark that might not be immediately apparent. Some of this might be just my opinion, but I am going to say it as though there is no doubt. Some of the things I say will be obvious, but they provide context for the more obscure information.

The key item is a gigantic spade, which is surmounted by a huge diamond, which in turn is surmounted by a clubs trefoil, which is in trurn surmounted by the following, in the same fashion, in this sequence: heart, spade, heart, clubs trefoil, and, lastly, a small diamond.

You might say, “Where is the ‘base’ for the huge spade?” Easy.  Right here (the rectangular blackish area):


You might then reply, “But that is on TOP of the huge diamond. How can that be the base of the spade?”

Again, easy.  The base has been inserted through a little horizontal “slit” (nor really discernible) in the huge diamond.

Here you might say, “But that violates the immutable cosmic laws stating that all pips are solid and cannot be penetrated by other objects.”

No problem.  It turns out that this is not an ummutable law at all.  For elsewhere in the very same trademark, we find the following, demonstrating that an elf (or the like) has inserted both of his feet through a heart. So that there is no ambiguity, I am also showing an enlargement of the foot on the left.

screen-shot-2017-03-04-at-3-18-23-pm     screen-shot-2017-03-04-at-3-22-33-pm

One of the things I only recently noticed was the base of the larger “clubs trefoil.”  Now that I see it, it seems quite obvious.  It protrudes downward from the white heart and has the border containing little white dots:


I suspect that the basic design was engraved and re-engraved many times through the years, because there are a number of differences among various renditions (even apart from obvious differences such as the changes in wording).

This is from the early Ace of Spades above, then on the right is a parallel segment from a much later (c. 1920s) pack:

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The two faces are very different, especially the nose and eyes, and the whole face is actually pretty different.  There are many other differences as well.  The diamond on the left has many more vertical lines than the one on the right, and the lines go to the edge on the left. These are just examples.

—Tom Sawyer

March 4, 2017

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