Rare pack of playing cards featuring 58 maps of California counties

CALIFORNIA THE GREAT EDUCATOR. Los Angeles: Combes & O’Banion, 1913.
116 playing cards and 1 card of instructions (each 3 5/8”h x 2 ½”w), the playing cards printed in 2 colors with pictorial backs. Housed in telescoping pasteboard box with printed wraps. Playing cards excellent, instructions card slightly bumped and soiled, the box with wear and water damage.

Only the second known example—and the only complete–of this educational card game featuring maps of California counties.

The game consists of a pack of 116 playing cards, two for each of California’s 58 counties, with each county represented by a map card and a statistical card. Each map card depicts the county’s major geographic features, cities and towns, and rail lines; the statistical cards provide information about the county seat and the county’s population, surface area, and major products. Per the instructions, 10 cards are dealt to each player, and they then take turns requesting cards from their fellow players or drawing from the deck, until all cards are distributed. Whichever player accumulates the most “tricks”—i.e., county pairs—wins the game.

A bit of California trivia: Along with Louisiana it has no fewer than nine counties named for saints, the most of any state in the Union.

Searches of Google, OCLC, RareBookHub and Newspapers.com turn up no record of the game’s publication, and no record of other publications by the Los Angeles-based partnership of Combes & O’Banion… though the instructions card mentions a “Game of United States, after the same order”. The only other pack I have located is held by Yale, though apparently missing the instructions card.

OCLC 320734543 gives a pack at Yale only, as of Sept. 2022.