In my Christmas stocking on Christmas Day’s morning, I found a box of playing cards, ‘The Famous Sporting Britain Illustrated Playing Cards’ to be exact (produced by Heritage Playing Card Company). It was with eager hands I opened the little box to see how many different illustrations there would be showing a rowing scene. I expected to find an image each for the Henley Royal Regatta, the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race, the Wingfield Sculls, the Doggett’s Coat and Badge Race and the World Professional Sculling Championships – all being good representatives of British Rowing. To my dismay, I found only one card with rowing! Far down in the pack of cards, as an eight of spades, was the Oxford & Cambridge Boat Race with an illustration from 1872 by Gustave Dore.
The description of the sport read: ‘Rowing is probably one of the oldest spots in the world – developing out of the “need for speed” of human-powered boats both as means of transport and as vessels of warfare.’ (Actually the word ‘developing’ was spelled ‘dveloping’.)
The two Jokers are Dancing and Sack Race.