Charles Goodall & Son’s “Marlborough” cabinet of games . . .

On page 50 of Mike Goodall’s year-2000 book Charles Goodall & Son: The Family and the Firm 1820-1922 is a little image of Goodall’s “Marlborough” cabinet (from a catalog or advertisement). It is designated as “The ‘Marlborough’ and ‘Blenheim,'” which leads me to believe that there were two cabinets with some significant (but not immediately obvious) variation between them.

The Marlborough is also seen in an article in Geyer’s Stationer for July 16, 1903, page 12. The article is called “Chas. Goodall & Sons United Stated Agency,” and it mentions the firm of F.L. Schafuss as agent of Goodall in the United States and Mexico. The article is more like an advertisement for Goodall products.  Here is the part that deals with the Marlborough.  The first four lines deal with a different set; only the final paragraph deals with the Marlborough:


My own set plainly differs from that, both in the arrangement of the cabinet and the contents.  Additionally, my set is not complete, though I am not certain precisely what it is missing.  At a minimum, I think it is missing several packs of cards, and also something that would have fit within the lid, and also one of the pencils. It’s understandable that my set would be different, since it is probably circa 1920, while the discussion reproduced above is from 1903. My set does include a Whist booklet, but I think it is safe to say that Whist’s popularity was more on the wane when mine was issued.

Below are scans of most of the components that are present.

The first scan shows the front of the cabinet, as well as two of the five booklets that were included.  (I showed all five in a different post, long ago.) The two booklets are shown above to demonstrate the relative size of the box.  Shown also is the key that came with my set, and I have no particular reason to believe that it is not the original key, though I have not tried it, and the set is presently in an unlocked state.


The lid raises up, and the front folds down, as shown in the black-and-white image above.  The inside of the lid has a large opening, with tabs to hold something (I do not know what) in place. When the front is folded down, the near left-hand corner says “THE ‘MARLBOROUGH,'” and the near right-hand corner says “C.G. & S., LONDON.”

Here is the back, and you can see the hinges.early-goodall-3-3-17-14Here is one side:


Here is the bottom, which appears to be covered with some colored, textured, coated paper or the like:


Next are two tablets, each with a pencil “pouch” attached.  One of the pencils is missing.  The pencil that is present is “The Scholastic,” from the Eagle Pencil Co.  I am pretty certain that it is a pencil that came with the set, mainly because its length and diameter work extremely well.


Next are three of the packs of cards that were in the set.  These are all unopened, but you can see most of the beautiful, ornate design, which includes gold-colored printing (which appears brownish below).  Probably there should be a fourth pack of the same design, and a few other packs as well.  The packs shown are rather “short” stacks, and are presumably 32-card packs, for Bezique and other games that require packs of 32 cards.

Since the set also included booklets relating to Whist and Bridge (one of which is shown above), there were probably multiple 52-card packs as well.


The description from 1903 refers to a total of eight packs: “two packs of playing cards” (probably meaning Whist packs), as well as four Bezique packs and two Piquet packs. According to Camden: In two-handed Bezique, two packs are used; three-handed requires three packs, and four-handed requires four. According to Hoffmann: Piquet, a two-handed game, requires one pack, but two packs are normally used, in alternating fashion.)

The top two are markers for Bezique (and Rubicon Bezique); one front is shown and one back. There are four such markers in all.  The ones shown are red and green, and the other two are black.

The third marker portrayed below is a Whist marker, and in the set are a total of two such markers.



—Tom Sawyer

March 6, 2017

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