Virtually Unknown Alice Card Game Rediscovered

The Game of Alice in Wonderland. Selchow & Righter, 1882.

The Game of Alice in Wonderland. Selchow & Righter, 1882.

Most Alice collectors will tell you that the very first Alice card game was Thomas De La Rue Co.’s The New & Diverting Game of Alice in Wonderlandprinted in 1899. Thanks to research of Rob Stone, a game designer and game store owner in Fort Wayne, Indiana, we can now set the record straight.

When Stone set out to design his own Alice game he decided, most responsibly, to examine every Alice card game ever released “since the publication of the book.” In doing so he came across The Game of Alice in Wonderland, published by Selchow & Righter in 1882.

The game consists of 52 cards divided into two sets of 16 numbered picture cards and one set of 20 cards bearing numbers alone. The Lilly Library at Indiana University has the game and the images in this post, along with several more, are posted on their website. Unfortunately, as Stone discovered, the Lilly Library does not have the rules—those he eventually discovered at Kent State University.

Stone has posted a full transcript of the rules to The Game of Alice in Wonderland, along with the story of his most interesting quest, on his blog Game Lab. Thanks for some great research, Rob!

Cards from The Game of Alice in Wonderland. Selchow & Righter, 1882.

Cards from The Game of Alice in Wonderland. Selchow & Righter, 1882.

Tenniel family menu cards up for auction

Menu cards  (porcelain plaques), created by John Tenniel for family dinners, based on his illustrations for Lewis Carroll’s Alice books, are up for auction at PBA Galleries (133 Kearny St, San Francisco) – low estimate $20k, high estimate $30k. The product description from their website:

Six small hand-painted porcelain plaques by John Tenniel, each with its own wrought-iron miniature easel. Each has a character from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland or Through the Looking-Glass taking up about a quarter of the plaque, with the remainder blank, and “Menu” written at the top of each. The plaques measure 5×3½; the easels are about 7½” high.

Marvelous and unique group of original hand-painted plaques used as menu cards for the Tenniel family dinners, descended in the family over the years. The night’s fare was evidently written in the blank spaces with a crayon or grease pencil, then wiped off after the meal was completed. The characters pictured are The White Rabbit (with his pocket-watch), the Mock Turtle (crying away), the Frog Footman (delivering a letter), the Walrus (without the Oysters and the Carpenter), the Leg of Mutton (taking a bow), and a frog with a rake. The plaques have a small wooden case with a removable top, on which is a label with writing “China (Delicate)”. The case top has two sides missing, some other wear.

Alice in the Boston Globe's daily bridge column today