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  • Writer's pictureDavid Morris

GAMES: The Crime Club Card Game from 1935

Updated: Jan 13, 2020

The Crime Club Card Game: 1st & 2nd Editions

Peter Cheyney authored the Crime Club card game, which was first published by Pepys (Castell Brothers Limited) in 1935. Peter Cheyney was a top author of British detective and mystery books at that time and so his personal involvement was a public relations benefit. The set of cards comes in a faux gold-lined box, with an embossed padded lid. The top of the box is lettered in gold and shows the Crime Club gunman, a common sight on the Agatha Christie first editions. On the base of the box is a special card for Peter Cheyney. The card game was released with two color varieties: the 1935 first edition features a padded dark purple box, with card backs of purple. The second edition, manufactured in the late 1930s and early 1940s, had a dark green box with green-backed cards. Further iterations of the game have been made over the decades, but this original look with the padded top only existed for this first two versions. The game contains 50 cards, mostly made of characters from Peter Cheyney's books (such as Lemmy Caution). However, there are exceptions such as two of Agatha Christie's characters. The cards are made up of 6 suits with 8 cards in each suit. There are 3 detective suits, and 3 crook suits. Each suit features characters, objects, and locations. There are also two jokers included in the set, as well as the instruction booklet and 4 value reminder slips. The back of each card features the masked Crime Club gunman on a geometric pattern. The card illustrations of Cheyney's Lemmy Caution and Carlotta are reissues of the classic architypes taken from John Pisani’s book cover artwork for the Collins editions of “This Man is Dangerous” and “Poison Ivy”.  Agatha Christie’s characters included are: Hercule Poirot and Superintendent Battle.

Other characters are Lemmy Caution, Mr. Colbeck, Dr. Harlow, Mr. Glapthorne, Mr. Woodspring, Inspector Macdonald, Peter Vernon, Mr. Evans, Janet Murch and Carlotta.

The game is played as a two-part process: the first step in the game is to collect and make up a good hand. Then, in the second part of the game, the players attempt to take as few tricks as possible. Obviously, the game gets better as you play it, as the players quickly figure out what makes up the best hands for a winning strategy. The Crime Club card game is played with at least two players, and up to six can be accommodated using a single pack of cards -- for more than six players, it is recommended that you use two packs of cards.

Collectibility: High quality sets are getting hard to find. The 1st edition purple covered set is the rarest and generally will command $75-$100. The 2nd version, with the green cover is a little less collectible, but values are generally $40-$50 when in very good complete condition. Appreciation is likely as it is an affordable, fun collectible.

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