Sunday, November 3, 2013

Chas. Goodall & Son Ltd.

Charles Goodall established a company in Soho, London in 1820 to print playing cards and message cards. One of his sons joined the business in 1845 which  became styled Charles Goodall & Son. By the 1850s, the company, along with its competitor  De La Rue & Co., were producing two-thirds of all playing cards made in England.

As demand began outstripping production, new premises were secured in Camden in 1855. The reduction of tax on playing cards in 1862 from one shilling to three pence boosted the playing card industry to almost treble the output. In the 1860s Goodall diversified, launching a range of high quality stationery, as well as games, toys, fountain pens and even toilet paper. New presses in 1879 enabled the company to begin the production of multi-colored calendars, Christmas cards and almanacs. Over the next 30 years the company produced a substantial range of ornate and colorful cards, mainly by chromolithography. By 1900 Charles Goodall & Son was leading the market with annual production of over 2 million packs of playing cards.  

In 1906 Charles Goodall & Son began the production of linen grade playing cards. They soon became popular for their good shuffling and dealing qualities. The range of playing card designs increased enormously in the 1880s. Some pictorial designs were very elaborate with printing in up to 12 separate colors. Advertising back designs started appearing towards the end of the 19th century. They rapidly became very popular and by 1890 were being produced in large quantities. Shipping companies, whiskey distillers, breweries and tobacco companies were the main advertisers, often with a new design each year.

In the 1920s Charles Goodall & Son was taken over by De La Rue & Co., though the Goodall brand names were still used much later. The factory in Camden was kept open until 1929. In the end it was purchased by the Post Office and partially demolished in the 1970s.

Advertising back designs from playing cards by Chas Goodall & Son.
Today, such playing cards are a popular collectable.

by Mark Matlach

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