Playing Card Shoe

Woolley & Sabine, playing card makers
October 17, 2016 – 02:47 am
Plastic playing card shoe

coat of arms Playing Card Makers CompanyIn the 1841 census Woolley was listed as the occupant of the Holborn premises, together with his wife Ann Frost and daughters Jane and Elizabeth. The Woolleys had married on 20 December, 1821 in St. Anne Soho church, Westminster, but not much more is known of their lives. Research on playing cards seems to suggest that the name Woolley & Co. was used in the second half of the nineteenth century at the address 210 High Holborn, but it is not clear whether Thomas Lewis Woolley had anything to do with it. Apparently, one Mrs.Street View elevation Elizabeth Evans took over the playing card business of Edward James Stone at that address, retaining Stone as manager, and changing the name of the firm to Woolley & Comp. in 1857.(1) A lot more is known about Sabine. He was made free of the Stationers’ Company by patrimony in August 1839. His freedom record states that he was born in Shoe Lane, Fleet Street in 1811 as the son of Thomas Sabine, Stationer. A baptism record can be found in the St. Bride Church records for 17 November 1811 which gives his mother’s name as Ann, the address as 81 Shoe Lane and his date of birth as the 3rd of October.

Woolley & Sabine playing cardsJust before his partnership with Woolley, Sabine had married Emma Boaden on 15 November, 1834 at St. Andrew Holborn and they were to have at least 10 children: Henry born ±1836, Emily ±1839, Lucy ±1842, Kate ±1846, Lewis ±1848, Charles ±1849, Alfred ±1850, Arthur ±1853, Robert ±1856, and Thomas ±1858.1839 detail City freedom record Sabine Henry Robert did not remain a playing card maker for the rest of his life; unfortunately in 1852, by then working from Poppin’s Court, he went bankrupt(2) and in the 1861 census he is listed as a commercial traveller, in 1871 as card board maker (his address given as Glossop, Derbyshire) and in 1881 (back in London) as an accountant. In 1891 he is listed as retired and living with his daughter Lucy in Chelsea. He died in early 1895.

Because his father was a Stationer, it was logical that young Henry Robert became a freeman of that guild, but that did not necessarily mean he was a stationer in the narrow sense of the word. Members of the guilds sometimes branched out into other fields, not always with the approval of the guild on which they encroached, but the rule of staying in one’s own field was difficult to enforce as the City guilds only had authority within the strict geographical borders of the City and not all guilds objected to their members involving themselves in other activities. Henry’s father, and probably his grandfather as well, had been making playing cards, although by rights that craft belonged to the Worshipful Company of Makers of Playing Cards.

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