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The Jolly Old Maid

card game

One of the earliest card games still played is Old Maid. Though its true origin is unknown, it probably came to Europe and America from India or China. Essentially a matching game with one odd card, Old Maid can be played with a regular deck by removing one or three queens. The game is known by many other names in several different countries and cultures. However, early Western lithographers were quick to market cards made especially for it; the humorous, if slightly sexist, possibilities suggested by the game title provided for many, many versions over the years. Indeed, even today an "old maid" may be any single piece left over when any pairs of items are counted. Old Maid's rules are simple: all cards are dealt and players lay down any pairs they have. The player on the dealer's left offers cards to the left. The player at his/her left draws and tries to make a pair, which is laid down. The play continues until one player lays down all cards as pairs. The player then left with the Old Maid loses the game. Game printers quickly learned that nearly any kind of card design made matching pairs possible. Many early examples included verses, quirky characters, and an especially unappealing or frighteningly stereotypical Old Maid card. Some game manufacturers made Old Maid board games, and this is one example. They are usually race type games with humorous squares related to love, marriage, and spinsterhood. The board game really bears little resemblance to the card game except for its name.

  • Manufacturer: Parker Brothers
  • Material: cardboard | printed paper | printed cardstock
  • Origin: Salem, MA
  • Style: matching | shedding
  • Object ID: 113.597
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