Ephemera: Games, Toys, Playing Cards, License Plate Decorations


Catfish Bend Storybook Game - 1978
(composite of game box cover attached)
Old and young alike will delight in this imaginative game based on Ben Lucien Burman's classic Catfish Bend stories.

Doc, Judge Black, J.C. the Fox, Rabbit, Frog, Old Joe the Alligator, Beaver, Goose, City Fox, City Rat and Bloodhound ... all the Catfish Bend characters come to life in this unique reading game.

Players compete to collect the most characters after moving along the colorful Mississippi River.

box cover with steamboat illustration

Quaint box cover graphics for board game from Cadaco-Ellis Inc. 1939. 12 X 17 inches. I haven't scanned the board itself, it's not as much fun as this crazy cover with all the honeysuckle and moonlight nostalgia and old racial cliches. The color graphic vignette is based on a Currier and Ives print. They gave a little nod to Mark Twain by christening the boat at the landing "Becky Thatcher." The boat approaching bears the name "Lee," probably short for Rob't E. Lee. (This boat, Becky Thatcher, is not related to the Becky Thatcher that was formerly known as the Mississippi.)

Reminded me of the annual race you used to run on - Dave


"RIVERBOAT GAMBLER" kit - tin box with lithographed graphic lettering and graphics

Nice whiz-bang tin box with hinged lid . . .

"RIVERBOAT GAMBLER KIT" which apparently had contained Poker Cards and Poker ChipsLid measures 5 1/2 inches square

Side with sidewheeler art in oval vignette measures 3 1/4 X 5 1/2 inches.

On bottom is printedCONTAINER MADE IN ENGLAND exclusively for CASE MANUFACTURING CO. NEW YORK 10013


Steamboat and poker hand of hearts

"Game box" lid for a poker card game box set measuring 11 x 16 inchesPen and ink wash illustration of a steamboat, 5 card Royal Flush (Hearts) and 3 poker chips.

On the backside of the lid are instructions addressing the following: "AUTOMATIC COUNTING TRAYS" and "CHANCES OF BETTERING A HAND ON THE DRAW"

The artist's signature in the lower right hand corner of the lid graphic is difficult to read but looks could be of Dutch origin something like: "Mentze Van Eveleth." Not dated but possibly from the 40's or 50's.

NATCHEZ jig saw puzzle box graphic EXP

Attached colorful graphic that I cut out in Photoshop and put over white from a jig saw puzzle box. Ain't it perfectly enchanting though?

puzzle with steamboat illustration

Cover of the little box (5 X 6 inches) containing a sort of a jig saw puzzle of a side wheel Queen City. The puzzle pieces are actually just a bunch of trapezoidal shaped pieces so they don't interlock like a jig saw would. Assembled the whole thing measures 12 1/4 X 16 1/4. This could possibly represent the second sidewheel Queen City 1851 - 1859. There are no swinging stages in either of the graphics so possibly this predates the Civil War! Kind of hard to believe but the design and antiquity of the box and puzzle make it seem possible. The manufacturer Peter G. Thomson is no relation that I know of but he spelled his name "right." (Detail below.)

puzzle box steamboat illustration

Queen City Puzzle box.


recent acquisitions

Scan of stylized steamboat graphic on the back of a playing card. It is just a coincidence the cards are marked "Thomson." Dave Thomson does not own a casino.


This steamboat "Joker" was from the US Playing Card Company's edition of the Steamboat 999 deck first introduced in 1883 by Russell, Morgan & Company.

The deck was in production for over a century before being discontinued but now "Dan and Dave" offer a reproduction of a deck of Steamboat 999 playing cards:

License Plate Steamboat Deco


License Plate "topper" HANNIBAL, MO

Hannibal, MO vintage automobile license plate "Topper" that I had chrome plated. After photographing the Topper outdoors on the patio under the striped awning I opened the file on the computer and added a photo I had taken of the Boyhood Home as it looks today and finessed it to fit where a vague bas relief impression of the Home had been on the Topper. I also used the lettering from the topper in a composite of Jim Waddell standing in the foreground with the town of Hannibal in the distance on the west bank of the Mississippi River.


My personalized license plate and custom topper - Mid 1990's.


With the exception of images credited to public institutions,
everything on this page is from a private collection.
Please contact for permission for commercial use.*