Sep 24, 2013

Swap Cards

Last week Cranky Old Man blogged about baseball cards kids traded in the 1950s, and that made me think of swap cards.

Swap cards were a hobby for kids in the 1970s, especially girls. 

You bought them singly in news agents for 5 or 10 cents each initially - if I recall correctly they did get more expensive (25 cents?) and some designs might have been dearer than others, but I'm hazy on that.

Every girl I knew had a deck of swap cards held together with a rubber band or stored in an album. We took them to each other's houses and to school and sometimes we did swap them, but mostly we just looked at them!

I loved my swap cards.

I have no idea what happened to them. (Mum?)

The most popular designs were Sarah Kay, Holly Hobby and her imitators: girls with patchwork dresses or flared jeans and floppy hats. There were lots of pictures of puppies and kittens, quite a few horses, and a few 'boy' designs like fishermen, boats and cars.

Now selling on eBay for $7!

They were often produced in pairs of complementary designs - for examples see here.

Some were like real playing cards with a number and suit on the back, but most were plain white on the back.

cards for sale on eBay

I've just had a lot of fun looking over swap cards on this flickr group and on eBay. I felt a sudden thrill when I came across pictures of the same cards I used to own, like the three above, and these ones (images all from eBay):

Looking at these images of once-loved cards it feels like no time at all since I held them in my hands.

I've thought of swap cards a few times since my girls have got into cards of one kind or another. 

They both love their fairy cards:

...which they use to play Snap or Memory, when we're not playing Go Fish with these:

And are now really into the Woolworths Aussie Animal cards, which I have to admit are a really good collectible:

This is not a sponsored post!

Did you collect cards as a kid?


  1. I swear to gah I had nearly all of those. The baby ones were my prized possession!

    1. Me too! I loved the babies with the giraffes, and all the girls in floppy hats.

    2. Does anyone remember the actual PICTURES, we swapped? They were cut-outs, not cards. Some with glitter, and they smelled divine - the paper/ink smell or whatever.

    3. I didn't have those - they sound like something I would have liked though.
      I remember as well in primary school collecting and swapping stickers which we stored on a laminated card. The scratch and sniff ones were the prize stars!

  2. I didn't ever have swap cards. I wonder why?
    Cards we had - but playing cards. Cheat, Ricketty Kate, Canasta, Five Hundred, et al, but I never came across swap cards...

    1. We played card games too; my favourites were Snap, Fish, Uno, Crazy 8s and War. I can't remember how to play Crazy 8s or War now.

  3. I didn't have swap cards, in my school days those were for boys and had sports persons on them, mostly cricket and footballers. Girls had scrapbooks with "scraps", little pictures, brightly coloured on glossy paper, some had glitter. They'd be stuck in the scrap books and there would be a pouch similar to an envelope stuck to the back inside cover where spare scraps were kept for trading.
    When my kids went to school there were trading cards and the kids would trade for ones they wanted, it wasn't a big business, but a few years later when the cards got to be quite expensive there was a lot of trouble in the schools with kids actually fighting over the cards and some stealing going on too. Cards were banned from the schools at that point.

    1. Wow the "scraps" sound fascinating! Very much like swap cards. It's interesting to hear your school ended up banning them; I've heard of schools doing this and it's always so tempting to put it in the category of "modern over-protectiveness" but schools have always had to step in when kids' hobbies started causing playground problems. I recall when I was a kid it briefly became a craze for the girls to bring their teddies to school, even though we were in grade 5 at the time. Not sure what was going on there, but the teachers did eventually call a meeting with us and told us all to stop it!

  4. I would trade all of those swap cards for just one Willie, Mickey or The Duke, but I guess down under nobody even knows who they are.

    My son, at eight, used to collect Pokey Mon cards and "duel" with his friends. I tried to figure out the rules, but they were incredibly complicated. He claimed they were easy. Five years later he admitted the kids just made up their own rules. Who cares, they had good clean fun!

    1. That's funny! I dimly recall Pokemon cards but no one I knew had them.
      I admit it, I had not heard of The Duke until I read your trading cards post. The others I have vague pop-culture familiarity with.
      I did love the baseball when we lived in LA and I get why it's so big over there. The atmosphere at the games is great.

  5. Somehow, this trend never made it to my corner of Minnesota, but I had to smile at the images of Holly Hobby! I'd forgotten all about her!


    1. Yes, me too!
      I remember being jealous of friends at school who had Holly Hobby long socks!



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