card games, then and now

II have done some research on nineteenth century children’s games before, but this time I was looking for card games in particular when I came across a mention of Happy Families, which is played something like Authors.  From Board Game Geek:

This game was designed in England and was originally published for the Great Exhibition by John Jaques & Sons. The outside of the box described the name as Happy Families while the inside of the box describes the name as Merry Families. Each quartet consists of four family members — a father, a mother, a son, and a daughter. The fathers are Mr. Daub the Painter, Mr. Dough the Baker, Mr. Pill the Doctor, Mr. Sand the Grocer, Mr. Saw the Carpenter, Mr. Snip the Barber, Mr. Stain the Dyer, Mr. Smut the Sweep, Mr. Thread the Tailor, and Mr. Tub the Brewer.

What I like about this is the art work:

Compare this game to more current editions of Old Maid:

So maybe I’m being overly picky here, but why are the modern illustrations for children’s card games garish and shoddily done? There are so many wonderful illustrators out there, is it just a matter of the manufacturer going with the cheapest options?


I went to look up Authors just to see if that game has had better treatment, and the answer is, as far as I can tell, no. There are multiple editions of the card game Authors. When I was a kid the deck was all dead white men, but there are now games called American Authors, Women Authors, Children’s Authors. Unfortunately it seems none of them are especially carefully or artistically done, as you can see by this example.

But there are great illustrators who do author portraits. Ryan Sheffield sells his work on Etsy, including his version of Emily Dickinson,  below.

Somebody like Ryan Sheffield should put together a modern version of Authors using original artwork. It would be a good idea to have some info about the author along with the titles of their work, of course.  

Would you be interested in a game of Authors like this?  I’m really curious.

Note: I don’t know Mr. Sheffield and he doesn’t know me. I just found his work on Etsy and my imagination took off.

In which I confess to a terrible weakness.

I have a real weakness for fonts. Sometimes I’ll look at a font face demo and go all squishy. Why? Why? Telling myself I don’t need the font is silly. I know I don’t need it. It would be wasteful and self indulgent to buy this font: Sigmund Freud’s handwriting. 

Oh, but look at it.

Sigmund Freud, oh my
Sigmund Freud, oh my

Money is tight and will get tighter, so $55 for the Sigmund Freud font set: Nope. Really not.  

The question is, other women lust after shoes. Not me. I own four pairs of shoes and two purses, and I’m fine with those numbers. But these fonts? 

Sigmund is relatively inexpensive, compared to Dear Sarah who would put me back $119. But look at her. Just look at the trembling extended arms, like a gently aging prima ballerina. 

Dear Sarah font.

Thus my confession, but please know: I have not bought any of these fonts. Self discipline and financial stability are my watchwords.  I will also confess that I stopped at admitting to two font-crushes. There are more. And there are some that cost many, many more times what even Sarah demands for her presence in your digital life. 


evocative cover art

[asa left]0061430226[/asa] Will you look at this cover art for Sharp Teeth by Toby Barlow? Now this is great design. It pops out at you from across the bookstore. An unusual size, the strong coloring, it all works. But there’s more. There is no dustjacket, instead the front and back have paper cutouts that are afixed to the bookcloth.

This author knows how to promote his new novel. Look at this whizbang website . I am truly impressed.  And here’s the starred PW review:

Starred Review. Barlow’s gut-wrenching, sexy debut, a horror thriller in verse, follows three packs of feral dogs in East L.A. These creatures are in fact werewolves, men and women who can change into canine form at will (Dog or wolf? More like one than the other/ but neither exactly). Lark, the top dog in one of the packs who’s a lawyer in human form, has a master plan that may involve taking over the city from the regular humans. Anthony Silvo, a dogcatcher and normally a loner, finds himself falling in love with a beautiful and mysterious woman (Standing on four legs in her fur,/ she is her own brand of beast). A strange small man and his giant partner play tournament bridge and are deep into the drug trade. A detective, Peabody, investigates several puzzling dog-related murders. The irregular verse form with its narrative economies proves an excellent vehicle to support all these disparate threads and then tie them together in the bittersweet conclusion.

Into the Wilderness in trade paper

I may have mentioned that Bantam is re-issuing Into the Wilderness in the fall, in trade paperback format. ((TPB, sometimes referred to as a trade paper edition, is a paperback book in which the text pages are identical to the text pages in the hardcover edition. It is usually the same size as the hardcover edition. The only difference is the softbinding; and the quality of the paper is usually higher than that of a mass market paperback.

Trade paperbacks are typically priced less than hardcover books and higher than mass market paperbacks. Virtually all “Advance Reader’s Copies” are issued in trade paperback format. Wikipedia ))

What Bantam hopes (and I hope too, of course) is that this new edition will catch the eye, leading to a whole new readership. If it does well, (and I mean, really well), they will probably re-issue the other titles as well in new format with new cover art.

I’m quite happy with this design. The cut-off face thing is big now and sometimes I don’t like it, but I think it works here. And they got the clothes right. And the hair. So I’m satisfied. No, I’m more than satisfied. I’m really pleased that Bantam has such faith in the series.