Antique Card Game of Cock Robin by Mcloughlin Brothers

The antique card game of Cock Robin is a wonderful old game which emulates much of the Cock Robin nursery rhyme.

mcloughlin card game

Cock Robin Card Game

Mcloughlin Brothers of New York published the enchanting card game named Cock Robin in the 1860’s, 1875, and another version in 1885.  The oldest one of the 1860’s features hand painted cards and cover.  Following most of the words of the Cock Robin nursery rhyme the card game has the players answer the questions found within the rhyme.  The first one being, “Who killed Cock Robin?”  And the last one being, “Who will sing the psalm?”

The old card game offers a twist at the ending and differs from the nursery rhyme.  The players of the game are told Cock Robin is alive and well and they have all been telling a story!  This is the part of the game which truly has the players interacting with each other and reveals the fun age of the times.

The directions for the game of Cock Robin begin with choosing a person to be the dealer.  After having all the cards dealt out to theplayers, the dealer is then the person who asks the questions.  The dealer reads each question while the players answer the best they can with the cards from their hands.  These will either be the animal cards which answer the specific questions or any of the numerous generic cards.

mcloughlin brothers card game of cock robin

Cock Robin Card Game

For example, the dealer reads the first question of “Who killed Cock Robin?” The correct animal card to specifically answer is the Sparrow card.  It reads, “I, said the Sparrow, with my bow and arrow.  I killed Cock Robin.”   If the player has the ‘Sparrow’ card, he lays his card down on the table in front of him and the dealer asks the next question to the next player (Who saw him die?).

If the player does not have the sparrow card in his hand, he picks a card from the player to his left and reads a generic answer card (often humorous) before laying that card on the table in a separate pile.  The dealer proceeds to ask the next player the same question until the correct answer card is found and played.  The player who answers the question will take any of the generic cards played to the question and place them (if there are any) in his hand.

mcloughlin brothers cock robin card game cards

Cock Robin Animal Cards

Once all the questions have been read and answered the exciting part of the game begins!  The dealer reads the following script,

“Oh, Mr. Bullfinch, Oh, Mr. Popinjay
Never believe what these little birds say-
Bad little birds—telling us a story-
Cock Robin is alive in all his glory!”

The dealer continues to read the next line of,

Cock Robin is all alive—Mr. Sparrow, pay a fine for that story now, about your bow and arrow.”

cock robin sparrow game card

Cock Robin Sparrow Card

The player who has the sparrow card in front of him must then ‘pay the fine’.  The fine is anything the dealer wants it to be.  In the directions, suggestions for the fine are, “to kiss the one loved best (which is often the looking glass), or to flatter some of the other company…”

Additional scripts are read for each of the animals and the players with these cards in front of them must do what it says.  Other examples are as follows:

  • Cock Robin is all alive—Miss Lark, Shut your eyes and sing us a song in the dark.
  • To pay for the story you told—Mr. Linnet, tell us where your night cap is, and how you get in it.
  • Your manners are very bad, Mr. Rook, in all your reading what was your dullest book?

The last script read reveals the winner of the game of Cock Robin.  It reads, “And now Mr. Thrush, Come out of your bush, and sing us a song.  Or give us a riddle; and we’ll grant you the fame of winning the game.”

The old card game of Cock Robin provides a piece of history and holds a charm which can be appreciated by those learning about old games and nursery rhymes.  Children and adults of all ages enjoyed playing this game in the past.  It was a simple but fun way to occupy a person’s leisure time.

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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1 Response

  1. February 3, 2014

    […] amusing to me.  The above is similar in nature to another early game by Mcloughlin Bros.  In the 1860’s game of Cock Robin, the winner is the player who places the Thrush card as the last.  However, the following rhyme […]

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