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H.M.S. Pinafore Playing Cards

(New York: McLoughlin Bros., 1879)

Gift of Dr. Eric Gordon '66
Gilmore Music Library

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liszt letter cosima von bulowGilbert and Sullivan's H.M.S. Pinafore (1878) was a smash hit in both England and the United States, and its popularity created a market for spin-off merchandise. The New and Amusing Game of H.M.S. Pinafore, produced by McLoughlin Bros. in 1879, is an example. Each card in the game features a color illustration of a character from Pinafore. The cards are divided into eight groups. The players compete by trying to obtain all the cards in a group. Whoever amasses the most completed groups is the winner.

The Gilmore Library received this game as a gift from Dr. Eric Gordon, '66. It is not our only set of Gilbert and Sullivan cards; the Sidney Rose Collection of Gilbert and Sullivan includes Mikado trading cards that were used to advertise thread, cigars, and soap.

The English poet William Schwenck Gilbert (1836-1911), the author of the Pinafore libretto, should not be confused with the American composer Henry Gilbert, whose baby hair, death mask, and musical game appear elsewhere in this exhibit.