Between whist and bridge (auction bridge, then contract bridge), for a period of approximately 20 years from the mid-1880s to 1905 or thereabouts, a game was played that today is variously known as "Biritch," or "Russian Whist," or "Bridge-Whist," or "Straight Bridge." This outgrowth of whist introduced a bidding element to the determination of the trump suit; and, it was scored differently than whist and differently than any bridge variant that would follow. For sale in this shop is an ash tray that includes a scoring guide for this particular game (T0000419).
The item here listed is a "Bridge Whist" set by United States Playing Card Company c.1905. It includes two decks of beautiful and relatively early Congress 606 cards with the "Good Night" and "Anticipation" backs, together with a USPC Bridge Whist score pad, housed in a leather case. There is also a slot in the case for a pencil, but it has gone missing. It is virtually certain that the cards, score pad and case are all original, and given the relatively short time when this precise game, "Bridge Whist," was played, it is fair to assume that a "Bridge Whist" set – especially one that includes a score pad such as the one present here – is rather rare.
Each deck of cards is complete with 52 cards, plus a "matching" Joker (i.e., a Joker in black and white that matches the color illustration used for the backs of the cards). Although this is a "Bridge Whist" set, the cards are wide, measuring 89mm x 63mm, with gold gilt around. They are a perfect fit for the slots intended to house them in the case.
The case is leather covered, with red fabric lining the inside. It has a drop down front, and slots for the two decks and a pencil. The score pad is a perfect fit for the box, and at the back of the score pad are the rules for the game. The exterior of the box measures approximately 8" by 3½", and sits about 1⅜" high.
The cards are in beautiful, pristine condition, "as new" or very nearly so, with virtually all gold gilt intact, except that 3 cards in the spade suit of the "Anticipation" deck have a stain or other mark that may be a manufacturing defect or may be an external impact subsequent. The leather case has protected the cards very well. The score pad has some light soiling/discoloration to the front title page, but the interior pages are remarkably clean. The leather case has wear to the exterior and an indentation on the lid, and is separating at places along the edge of the snap down front, along the back edge of the lid, and along the right rear corner of the bottom. The interior fabric is quite clean and firm to the box.
There is another "Good Night" deck for sale by itself in this shop, with its original box (T00002265).
Reference (for the cards): Dawson, The Hochman Encyclopedia of American Playing Cards, p.87, US6c-6e.
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