120 year old Anheuser Busch themed playing cards and solitaire game

By Neal - 3/29/2020

Needless to say, we created our online solitaire site because we love cards games, but we also created it because we love card designs.

In an earlier blog post about the evolution of playing card design, we talked about how playing cards can be traced back to the 12th century. That’s over 800 years ago. Since then, playing cards have spread across the world and evolved into different games.

That also includes different playing card design over the years. These designs are truly snapshots in history and capture the zeitgeist of the era. They often represent important events, products, people, and even political undercurrents.

Recently, we were thrilled to learn about Columbia University Library’s Albert Field Collection of historical playing cards. They have over 6300 individual decks that date back to the 16th century. Browsing through it feels like your browsing through time.

We were able to get in touch with Jane Siegel, who is the Rare Book Librarian at Columbia University libraries. She pointed us to a unique deck created by the U.S. Playing Card Company for Anheuser Busch from 1900. Note, these are two companies that still exist 120 years later to this day!

Jane explained that after the Spanish-American War in 1898, the US annexed the former Spanish colonies of Puerto Rico, Philippines and Guam. Back then, it was a period of prosperity and expansionism for colonizers. Although the idea of the US as an empire was debated nationally, this deck combines capitalism and politics, conflating the growth of American military power (the battleships on the 4s), political power (“Our Colonies” on the Queen of Spades), and economic power (the huge brewing plant pictured on the 2 of Spades).

Can you imagine all that messaging packed into one deck of cards? After learning about it, we had to put these designs into a solitaire game. We hope you enjoy, learn, and win!