Mint double deck set of the “Godey’s Ladies” cards made by King Press. The cards are packaged with a bridge scoring pad and pencil in a very lovely case that, like the backs of the cards, has a “Godey’s Ladies” picture on the front “cover.” The Dawson/Hochman Encyclopedia dates these cards c.1937, but I have dated this set slightly earlier. The cards have a small $.10 tax stamp which Peter Endebrock’s website indicates was in use from 1924-1929. Moreover, the score pad is for auction bridge, and 1937 seems a late date for the inclusion of an auction bridge pad in a bridge set. Finally, the Eagle bridge scoring pencil has a patent date of 1927 for whatever relevance that has.
For those unfamiliar with Godey’s Ladies, the reference is to the hand tinted fashion plates that appeared in the hugely popular Civil War magazine published in Philadelphia, titled, “Godey’s Lady’s Book,” or sometimes “Godey’s Magazine and Lady’s Book.” The history and contents of the publication are described in a Wikipedia article:
“The magazine was published by Louis A. Godey from Philadelphia for 48 years (1830–1878). Godey intended to take advantage of the popularity of gift books, many of which were marketed specifically to women. Each issue contained poetry, articles, and engravings created by prominent writers and other artists of the time. Sarah Josepha Hale (author of ‘Mary Had a Little Lamb’) was its editor from 1837 until 1877 and only published original, American manuscripts. Although the magazine was read and contained work by both men and women, Hale published three special issues which only included work done by women.
"When Hale started at Godey's, the magazine had a circulation of ten thousand subscribers. Two years later, it jumped to 40,000 and by 1860 had 150,000 subscribers. . . . .
"The magazine was expensive; subscribers paid $3 per year (for comparison, The Saturday Evening Post was only $2 per year). Even so, it was the most popular journal in its day. Under Hale's editorship, the list of subscribers to Godey's reached 150,000. Hale took advantage of her role and became influential as an arbiter of American taste. She used some of her influence to further several causes for women. For example, she created a regular section with the heading 'Employment for Women' beginning in 1852 to discuss women in the workforce.
"In general, Godey disliked discussing political issues or controversial topics in his magazine. In the 1850s, he dismissed Sara Jane Lippincott (‘Grace Greenwood’) as assistant editor for denouncing slavery in the National Era. Lippincott publicly denounced Godey in response and Godey later recanted. Nevertheless, he forbade his journal from taking a position during the American Civil War. In fact, during the war, the magazine made no acknowledgment of it whatsoever and readers looked elsewhere for war-related information. In the process, Godey's lost about one-third of its subscribers.
"Godey sold the magazine in 1877 to John Hill Seyes Haulenbeek before his death in 1878. The magazine ceased publication with the death of Haulenbeek in 1898.
"The magazine is best known for the hand-tinted fashion plate that appeared at the start of each issue, which provide a record of the progression of women's dress. Publisher Louis Godey boasted that in 1859, it cost $105,200 to produce the Lady's Book, with the coloring of the fashion-plates costing $8,000. Almost every issue also included an illustration and pattern with measurements for a garment to be sewn at home. A sheet of music for piano provided the latest waltz, polka or galop.
"Edgar Allan Poe had one of his earliest short stories ‘The Visionary’ (later renamed ‘The Assignation’) printed in Godey's in 1834. He published several other works: ‘A Tale of the Ragged Mountains’ (April 1844), ‘The Oblong Box’ (September 1844), and ‘Thou Art the Man’ (November 1844), and ‘The Cask of Amontillado’ (1846). Other contributors included Nathaniel Hawthorne, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Washington Irving, James Kirke Paulding, William Gilmore Simms, Nathaniel Parker Willis, and Frances Hodgson Burnett.”
Each deck has 52 cards, plus 1 King Press Joker. The cards are bridge size, measuring 89mm x 58mm. As noted they are accompanied by a bridge score pad and scoring pencil and come in a custom case with a Godey’s Ladies picture on the front.
One deck is mint and sealed, while the other is “as new.” The custom case is in superb condition, “as new” or very nearly so. The pencil appears to have been used once or twice (judging by the eraser) and there are a couple of sheets torn off of the scoring pad. It is interesting to note that the scoring pad is a “Fan C Pack” pad; Fan C Pack also made a set of Godey’s Ladies cards.
Reference: Dawson, The Hochman Encyclopedia of American Playing Cards, p.158, MSN51.
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