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Authors Decks
Instructive Game of Authors with Sketches Characters and Events. Philadelphia: Porter and Coates, 1873.
Authors Card Game. Racine: Whitman Publishing Co., n.d.
A New Game of Authors or Graded Literary Cards. Morning Sun: A. B. Carroll, 1885.
Young Folks' Favorite Authors. Cincinnati: Fireside Game Co., 1897.
Black Authors Playing Cards. Yarmouth: Whitehall Line, 1991.

The game of Authors was first published by G. M. Whipple & A. A. Smith in Salem, Massachusetts in 1861. Since copyright was not strictly enforced at this time, game publishers throughout America produced variations of this exceedingly popular card game. Not only were they making games about Authors, but decks could be found concerning Actors, Artists, Philosophers, Presidents, Inventors, and even Civil War Battles.

Featured in the image above are five of the numerous examples of Authors games in the Lilly Library collection. Ranging in publication date from 1873 to 1991, modern authors, such as Richard Wright and Toni Morrison, are featured alongside classic 19th century writers, including Robert Lewis Stevenson and Nathanial Hawthorne, as well as more obscure authors like Mary Mapes Dodge and Eugene Field.


Each deck consists of a quantity of sets of four cards, each of which concerns the works of the authors represented. These sets of four are referred to as 'books.' The object of the game is to collect as many complete sets of 'books' as possible.

The game is best played with three to five players. The dealer shuffles and deals the entire deck, one card at a time, to each player, even if this means that some players receive more cards than others. Players should arrange the cards in their hands according to author so that they may better see which remaining cards are needed to complete a 'book.' As is typical with most card games, the player to the left of the dealer begins the game. That player may ask any other player for a card which is needed for a 'book.' If they have the necessary card, the first player continues to ask for another card until one cannot be found, and so on. Once all of the 'books' are complete, the player with the most sets of four wins the game.

Featured below are four variations of the game of Authors in the Lilly Library Collection.

Portrait Authors
Portrait Authors. West and Lee Game Co., 1873.


Queens of Literature
Queens of Literature. New York: McLoughlin Brothers, 1886.


Le Jeu Des Auteurs
Le Jeu Des Auteurs. New York: Henry Holt and Co., 1873.


The Instructive Game of Poets
The Instructive Game of Poets. Philadelphia: Porter & Coates, 1872.


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