Dutton’s Military Cards, “Military Whist” Game, c.1900-1910

Exceptional set of “Dutton’s Military Cards,” an unusual deck with its own unique suits, shown by Dawson/Hochman as both a “New Suits” deck and a “War” deck. The deck includes an insert card with rules for “Military Whist.” I am aware of a “Military Whist” game that is really just a progressive whist format (see, T00001275, this shop), but that game is not what this rules card describes. The rules given on the card are a whist variant for this deck, in which the object is not only to take tricks, but to capture certain commanding officers of the declared trump suit, for which point values are assigned: the No. 13 card is the General, the No. 9 card is the Colonel, the No. 6 card is the Captain and the No. 3 card (in color) is the Sergeant. I do not know if the Dutton in the title given to these cards is E.P. Dutton, the American book publisher, but it is possible. Dawson/Hochman dates these cards c.1900 and Keller in his catalogue of the Cary Collection dates them to 1910. There is nothing to indicate on the cards or box, and so I have dated them to a range that includes both dates.

The four suits of this deck are four branches of the Army of that time: cavalry, artillery, infantry, and engineers. There are 52 cards, plus a “Joker” – Pres. Abraham Lincoln, “Commander in Chief” -- plus the rules card noted above. For each suit/branch the cards are designated P and 2-13, with P being the lowest rank in that branch and 13 being the highest. The Commander in Chief card is a wild card, and the identification of Pres. Lincoln as “Commander in Chief” suggests to me that the military figures are uniformed as in the Civil War. The cards are wide, measuring 89mm x 63mm, and come in the original telescope type box.

The cards are “as new,” and I do not believe they have ever been used. The box is in excellent condition, very clean with only the slightest signs of age and wear, except that the bottom of the inner box must have separated from the box and has been taped to it.

References: Dawson, The Hochman Encyclopedia of American Playing Cards, p.220, W118 and p.289, NS5; Keller, The Cary Collection of Playing Cards, US199.

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Item ID: T00001611

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