Database with Pepys Series Wild Flowers

My friend Steve sent me these cards that he picked up at a car boot sale I believe. I put them in the database, but didn’t find the history of them until recently. Holy cow, the riches of card history unfold for me!

This is the British Wild Flowers Card Game distributed by Gibsons Games in the Pepys Series.


These cards first came out circa 1960 under the name Wild Flower Sevens, and the illustrator was probably Dora Ratman according to Simon Wintle’s The World of Playing Cards (WOPC) website.

(Click to enlarge)


Some information on how to use them:

Each card depicts a different wild flower in full colour. Match the flowers by type to win the game. 2-6 players.

The actual game involves getting rid of all the cards you are dealt, and there are four suits of eleven cards each. The suits are Circle, Square, Diamond, and Triangle. The cards are numbered from 2 to 12, and all the 7 cards are different, they don’t show the habitat of the flowers like the other cards.

The sevens are the groundwork for laying down cards. It’s a bit like solitaire in the way you can build upon these sevens by discarding a 6 or an 8 of the same suit on top of them. The place where each flower is found, as stated on the cards, is not necessarily the only place, but is the most usual.

The Pepys Series was created by the publishing firm Castell Brothers in London who sold the business to William Collins of Glasgow in 1931 although the games were still registered to Castell Brothers until 1983. Later bought by Kenneth Collins, the business was moved back to London in 1950. The H.P. Gibson & Sons company (Gibsons Games) eventually bought the rights to them and several are still in-print. Many children of several generations grew up using these card games; it’s fascinating to see all the different ones.

Here is a general overview from the WOPC site on the Pepys Series and the history. First published in the late thirties with many in the series based on Disney films, they seem to re-jig them now and then for re-issuing them, hence the change of name for this deck.

There is a fellow named Racey Helps, a children’s author and illustrator, who illustrated the Woodland Happy Families, Woodland Snap Game, Woodland Old Maid and the Farmyard Cries decks in this Pepys Series. I love his illustrations. There is also a deck they published called British Towns that looks good. They have a really intriguing game called Contraband which has gorgeous illustrations of objects. The prices for the out-of-print ones are exhorbitant but I like to look at them.

Dora S. Ratman illustrated several books for the publisher W.H & L. Collingridge: a book in 1956 called Wild and Garden Herbs; one in 1947 called Wild Flowers in Their Haunts; another small book (and maybe more) for the magazine Amateur Gardening called Sweet Peas – Amateur Gardening Handbook No. 36 in 1961; and House Plants in 1961. She also did an oil painting in 1936 of a dentist, Samuel Israel Blairman, that can be seen in the British Dental Association Dental Museum in London.

In 1959-1960, Amateur Gardening magazine produced a set of 22 prints of Dora’s wildflower paintings that people could purchase. I love all kinds of botanical prints and some of these are still available from secondary sources.


Apart from these references I can find no information on her at all. I assume she was born about 1916, but it could have been earlier. I can’t actually play the card game as I have no one to play with, but I find them delightful for a daily draw, and finally knowing the name of the illustrator for the wildflowers is great.



7 thoughts on “Database with Pepys Series Wild Flowers

  1. They are lovely illustrations! I bought the Herbal Tarot in the hopes it would help me gain more herb knowledge, but haven’t used it enough for it to stick 🙂

    • I bought a used copy of the Herbal that was a demonstration copy for a shop and had holes punched through it to hang it on a chain. Then I bought the book for it.

      It’s not the greatest artwork but the plants are nice. I bought a couple of herb books too to go with it–a large topic but fascinating.

      My approach: you do not have to become an expert because you buy a themed deck, it’s simply fun to pick a random card and learn with it. OR (much like Ted Andrews’ Animal Speak), if you see a herb, grab the card about it and learn.

      It doesn’t matter if you retain the information! Just explore as necessary.

  2. I remember snapping these up for you. I am always on the look-out for EJG’s (Epic Judy Gifts) when perusing boot fairs 🙂

    Lovely images. I really enjoy botanical prints, also. Interesting to read the history.

  3. I know you look out for interesting things–you are very kind. I always get such a kick out of stuff you send (whether odd decks like this or postcards) because I can look things up with them.

    You can’t beat that!

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