Antique 1896 Fireside Card Game of White Squadron
The fascinating old card game called White Squadron by the Fireside Game Co. depicts 52 war vessels of the United States Navy on its cards. Browsing through the deck offers interesting details about these warships which protected our nation. Some of them, like the USS Olympia, are museum ships today.
The deck consists of 13 different sets of four for the making of ‘fleets’. Each of the game’s cards includes a Letter (A-M) with a number (1-4), the name of the featured ship, three other ship names that would make up its ‘fleet’, an image of the featured ship, and a few brief details about the ship. This display is a wonderful snapshot into the US Navy.
In the 1896 copyrighted game I have (different editions show various vessels), players strive to create sets from the following cards:
A fleet: Wisconsin, Kentucky, Oregon and Iowa
B fleet: Massachusetts, Indiana, Maine, Texas
C fleet: Brooklyn, New York, Minneapolis, Columbia
D fleet: Olympia, Chicago, Baltimore, Philadelphia
E fleet: San Francisco, Newark, Charleston, New Orleans,
F fleet: Cincinnati, Raleigh, Boston, Atlanta
G fleet: Detroit, Marblehead, Montgomery, Vesuvius
H fleet: St. Louis, St. Paul, Harvard, Buffalo
I fleet: Katahdin, Puritan, Monterey, Terror
J fleet: Amphitrite, Nantucket, Miantonomoh, Dolphin
K fleet: Stilletto, Ericsson, Cushing, Porter
L fleet: Yorktown, Concord, Bennington, Helena,
M fleet: Nashville, Castine, Machias, Bancroft
To play, five cards are dealt to each player, with the rest of the cards placed face down for the draw pile.
Starting to the left of the dealer, a player asks for a specific ship that would help complete a ‘fleet’ in his hand. He may choose to ask whoever he wants. If he asks for the ship, say I-2 the Puritan, and receives it, he may ask for another card. If the player he asks does not have the card asked for, he would then pick a card from the draw pile.
Play passes to the next player, and moves around the table as described. If at any time a player is successful in creating a complete fleet, he lays the four cards in front of him face up. If at any time a player runs out of cards, he is allowed to pick two cards from the draw pile.
When the draw pile is exhausted, players finish play by asking for cards from hands of players only. The player who has the most sets at the end of play wins the game! The A fleet is shown below:
A few other examples of card’s details are as follows:
I-2 Puritan- The largest of our iron, coast-defense monitors. Her length is 289 feet, displacement 6,000 tons. She has a speed of about 15 miles an hour, and carries a crew of 195 men.
B-1 Massachusetts- A sister ship of the Indiana; 348 feet in length and of 10,000 tons displacement. She is fully capable of defending the honor of our country in any part of the world.
B-3 Maine- Second-class sea-going battle-ship; commissioned 1895; length 301 feet, displacement 6,000 tons. Blown up in Havana Harbor, Feb. 1898, with over 250 officers and men. (as noticed by the dates on this card, even though the copyright for the game is 1896, this edition was produced after)
Finding an old game with a theme of interest, makes not only a wonderful collectible, but a great and unique gift. Any person who enjoys United States history would appreciate a game like White Squadron. There are also many other games which involve themes based from US history.
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