Pepys Series 'Astronaut' Card Game, c1960s. Full deck of 44 cards in original box with instruction leaflet.
‘Pepys’ is the brand name used by Castell Bros, a company founded in 1878 in London. They began producing card games in 1937 with a ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’ card game, inspired by the successful Disney film released that year. Later editions of Pepys Series games were based on newly released films or books and popular interests such as trains, football and cars.
This is an example of the Pepys Series ‘Astronaut’ card game, originally released in 1961 to celebrate the arrival of space travel. The set consists of 44 cards, with colour illustrations by British artist Rex Pitts, which depict seven stages of a journey to the moon (plus delays and disruptions) and ‘general interest’ cards depicting related sites and events.
There are four sets of seven Stage cards depicting the journey. The seven stages must be played in the correct order to win the game, beginning with ‘the astronaut’ and ending with ‘landing on the moon’. There are cards to impede the player depicting events such as the astronaut taking ill and bad weather. ‘Sub’ (substitute) cards depict Russian and American spacecraft (Sputnik and Vostok, and Telstar and Mercury respectively) and can be played in place of one of the numbered stages (excluding stages one and seven). There are also five ‘general interest cards’ which depict Jodrell Bank Radio Telescope, Goonhilly Down Receiving Station, the moon, capsule returning with parachute deployed and capsule in the sea awaiting recovery by ship and helicopter.
‘Astronaut’ helps to illustrate how the advent of space flight and the Space Race captured the British public’s imagination. It also captures a very specific slice of the Space Age. It was produced after Yuri Gagarin’s 1961 flight aboard Vostok (depicted), but before the 1969 Apollo moon landing, which is now arguably the most publicly recognised and celebrated event of the Space Age in Britain.
- Space Technology
- Object Number:
- card game
- physical activities
- Angela Braithwaite-Wicks
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