Western “Orphan Annie” Miniature (Patience Size) Playing Cards, c.1930s

Excellent set of patience cards, made by Western c.1930s and called Miniatures, with backs depicting “Orphan Annie” and her dog, Sandy. The deck is one of a series of Western patience size decks made in the 1930s, featuring a Peter Pan joker, and intended for use by children.

In the 1930s, the “Orphan Annie” comic strip was very popular, and even a bit controversial. According to a Wikipedia article:

“By the 1930s, the strip had taken on a more adult and adventurous feel with Annie coming across killers, gangsters, spies and saboteurs.

"It was also about this time that Gray, whose politics seem to be either conservative or libertarian, introduced some of his more controversial storylines. He would look into the darker aspects of human nature, such as greed and treachery. The gap between rich and poor was an important theme.

"The strip (and Gray, in interviews) glorified the American business ethic of an honest day's work for an honest day's pay. His hatred of labor unions was dramatized in the 1935 story ‘Eonite’. Other targets were the New Deal and communism. Corrupt businessmen often appeared as villains.

"Gray was especially critical of the justice system, which he saw as not doing enough to deal with criminals. Thus, some of his storylines featured people unashamedly taking the law into their own hands.

"This happened as early as 1927 in an adventure named "The Haunted House". In it, Annie is kidnapped by a gangster called Mister Mack. Warbucks rescues her and takes Mack and his gang into custody. He then contacts a local senator who owes him a favor. Warbucks persuades the politician to use his influence with the judge and make sure that the trial goes their way and that Mack and his men get their just deserts. Even Annie questions the use of such methods but concludes that ‘with all th' crooks usin' pull an' money to get off, I guess 'bout th' only way to get 'em punished is for honest police like ‘Daddy’ to use pull an' money an' gun-men too, an' beat them at their own game.’

"Warbucks became much more ruthless in later years. After catching yet another gang of Annie kidnappers he announced that he ‘wouldn't think of troubling the police with you boys.’ The implication was that while Warbucks and Annie celebrated their reunion, the Asp and his men took the gang away to be lynched.

"In another Sunday strip, published during the Second World War, a war-profiteer expresses the hope that the conflict would last another twenty years. An outraged member of the public physically assaults the man for his opinion, claiming revenge for his two sons who have already been killed in the fighting. When a passing policeman is about to intervene, Annie talks him out of it suggesting that ‘it's better some times to let folks settle some questions by what you might call democratic processes.’

"It rankled the Left to see popular entertainment critical of FDR's New Deal and 1930's labor unionism. In The New Republic of July 11 1934, Richard L. Neuberger described Annie as ‘Hooverism in the Funnies,’ arguing that Gray's strip was defending utility company bosses then being investigated by FDR's administration.

"After Huntington, W. Va. ‘Herald Dispatch’ editor James Clendenin's stopped running Little Orphan Annie, printing a front page editorial rebuking Gray's criticism of the New Deal and labor unionism, an unsigned editorial, ‘Fascism in the Funnies,’ was run in The New Republic (Sept. 18, 1935, pg. 147) praising Clendenin.

"Another American progressive of the day, The Nation, voiced its support. (‘Little Orphan Annie,’ The Nation, Oct. 23, 1935.)”

There are 52 cards in the deck, plus the Peter Pan joker, plus a backed card advertising Western’s miniature cards. They measure 63mm x 42mm and come in the original box.

The cards are in excellent condition, “as new” or very nearly so. The box is in very good condition, with most of the tax stamp intact, but with minor signs of age and wear on all edges and corners.

Thanks for visiting.

Item ID: T00001279

$25 USD

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