Fancy a pre-war card game?

<A pre-war card game with original cards in France>I had the privilege last week of playing an ordinary game with an extraordinary deck of cards and three generations of the French family they belong to. The oldest member of the family, who was born before the Second World War, explained that her father had bought the game before the war, marking the date on the back of the cardboard box. She and her siblings played with the cards when they were kids, and now her grandson likes to play with the exact same cards. A few were torn at the edges and some had rough edges, but they were otherwise intact.

Having survived a war in France and generations of kids smacking the cards down, the deck is interesting for another reason. They’re in English and French. The writing in red along the bottom of each card is French, and the translation runs up the left side of the card in black writing. So, the card for the Famille Tric-Trac (Joueurs), L’Aïeul is translated to ‘Family Tricktrack (Players), The Grandfather’ up the side.

The game itself is much like the card game Go Fish. Each player takes it in turn to ask one of the other players if they have a member of a certain family, and if so, the player asking the question gets the card and gets to ask again. Whoever has the most complete families at the end of the game wins.

The youngest generation, the great-grandson of the original owner, won the game, holding three of the six families by the time the game was over. I had first-timers’ luck, coming in second with two complete families (the Spice family and the Cobbler family).

<A close-up of French pre-war card game card>But back to the oldest member of the family. “I like the game because the drawings are funny,” she explained in French when the game had ended. She chuckled and pointed to a few cards on the table. “These are much more fun to play with, don’t you think?” she asked. How could I disagree? They were great!

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I'm a technical author, journalist and writer from Australia who has been living in Europe since 2000 and exploring the world from there. My passions are writing, snow sports and travel.

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9 comments on “Fancy a pre-war card game?
  1. Jacqui says:

    Lovely post Wendy and the French lady is right, they are lovely cards. I have just nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award, Jacqui

  2. Wendy says:

    Thanks Jacqui! You’re very kind! :D

  3. We used to call it Happy Families. Our cards weren’t nearly so interesting though.

  4. Wendy says:

    Yeah, they’re quite cool cards. I was impressed at their great condition, given their age and how much they’ve been used over the years.

  5. breadispain says:

    Lovely post – what fun! I love little bits of every day history like that. And yes – they really are in amazing condition!

  6. What a find! I don’t think that I would be able to play with them. I would want to keep them nice and neat for all future generations to see.
    Ashley

  7. Wendy says:

    The little boy was so impatient while his grandma explained their history to me, but hopefully he’ll be able to play with his grand kids using the same set of cards one day.

  8. The beauty of anything handed down like that is that you DO use them. If they’ve survived so many generations, they’ll survive a few more!

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