1874 McLoughlin Bros. Game of Logomachy or War of Words

The game of Logomachy by McLoughlin Bros. was a popular parlor game for players of the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.

1874 mcloughlin bros cardsOriginating from the Greek ‘Logos’ for word and ‘Makhia’ for fighting, Logomachy is a game where players fight or compete for the forming of words.  It received the “Highest Premium (Silver Medal), awarded by the Cincinnati Industrial Exposition, 1874, for the best new parlor game” (as stated on the front cover of the instruction booklet).

1874 mcloughlin bros game cards

Today, a set of the 72 cards, are wonderful to look upon.  They share a peek into a time gone past.   Their colorful illustrations, which the McLoughlin Bros. Game Company is known for, demonstrate life of a different time.  The many characters portrayed on the cards are shown fancifully dressed and exhibit the pleasures of the period.

They show images of children with a butterfly net playing in a meadow, a couple sitting together reading a book, and the amusement of horseback riding.   And although the cards are beautiful little pictures to admire, playing a game of Logomachy is just as grand.

1874 mcloughlin bros game cardTo begin, each card depicts a letter.  The letters J, K, V, X are ‘Prize’ cards and the letters Q and Z are ‘Double Prize’ cards.  The deck is shuffled and four cards are dealt to each player one at a time.  Another four cards are placed face up in a central pool area.

The player to the left of the dealer goes first.  The object of the game is to form words from the cards, and take as many cards as possible.  This is done by the following rules:

On a player’s turn, if a player can form a word by taking ONE card from his hand and using others from the pool, he does so.  If he can’t, he places ONE card into the pool.

If a player can use ONE card from his hand in combination of all the cards in the pool, he takes all the cards which is called a Sweep.  The next player places one card in the pool.

When the hands are all played, another four cards are dealt to each player, and the pool, if needed.  This is done until the deck is finished.

1874 mcloughlin bros game cardsThe winner is the person to first score a total of 21 points.  Points are given the following ways:

  • three points for having the most amount of cards at the end of a hand
  • one point for each sweep made
  • two points for ‘Double Prize’ cards used
  • one point for ‘Prize’ cards used

There are variations included in the instruction booklet.  They share a way for players to extend words played, or with the consolidating of two Logomachy decks, play involves allowing no words less than four or five letters to be made.

Whatever way the game is played, it is an interesting and fun game.  In 2006, Out of the Box Publishing republished Logomachy in an heirloom tin; allowing players to play the game today(without using antique cards).

old mcloughlin game

Jenny Kile

Admin. of All About Fun and Games. Along with being an avid collector and player of table top games, I am a writer, researcher, treasure hunter, and Founder of Kardtects ( kardtects.com. ) I believe fun is everywhere and you are welcome to visit my other sites: mysteriouswritings.com (which explores mystery, adventure and the search for treasures) and kardtects.com (which takes building card houses to completely new levels. Kardtects is the next generation of card house building!) Email: Jennykile@outlook.com

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3 Responses

  1. Art says:


    I just bought his game today at the flea market but it has only 71 cards. I am trying to figure out which card is missing. I have 6 of each vowel, all of the prize cards and 3 ‘Y”s.t There are 3 each of B, C, D, & F. All of the other consonants have 2. Any ideas as to which card is missing? Any help you can give will be greatly appreciated.



    • Jenny Kile says:

      Hi Art,

      I am thinking you are missing a R. In my game of 72 cards, I have 3 R’s instead of 2? Would that be the one?

      Thanks for visiting! And congrats on a great flea market find. I just love those!


  1. November 18, 2014

    […] first published in 1948, players battled to create words for the most points in card games, like Logomachy, and in the following 1902 Mcloughlin game of Word Making and Word Taking. This latter game […]

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