1923 Olympia Boxing Playing Cards Set and Checklist

It’s in the Details

Title Olympia Boxing Playing Cards
Year 1923
Size 2 1/2″ x 3 1/2″
Images Black and White
Type Game Cards
Number in Set
55

1923 Olympia Boxing Playing Cards Overview

1923 Olympia Boxing Gene Tunney.jpgThese playing cards were issued by Montreal-based Olympia Games in 1923. As Heritage Auctions points out, they were created for the Canadian marketplace. The series is notably a rare one with not many examples typically seen. Olympia named the set simply, “Boxing” or “The Game of Boxing.”

The cards utilized a simple playing card design with black and white pictures. Unlike standard playing cards, though, suits and denominations were not present. Cards had an ornate blue ink playing card design on the back. While there were no suits, the cards did have color-coded titles.

Some of the cards are actual individual boxers while about 1/3 of the set of the cards had cartoon pictures of generic subjects for various ring terms, such as bell, arena, referee, and timekeeper.

As the cards had standard rounded playing card corners, like other pre-war playing card issues, these are often found in high-grade shape.

Numerous big names are featured in the set, highlighted by Jack Dempsey, Gene Tunney, and others. Also included are some big name early Black fighters, including Harry Wills and Battling Siki.

Dempsey is the star of the set and was the heavyweight champion at the time of issue of these cards. He is not only included in the set, but is also pictured on the box for these cards.

Color Variations

Technically, this is a matching game of sorts and four colors were featured for the titles.

While the majority of the cards are printed in only one of four colors (black, green, orange, and red), some of the cards with generic boxing images are printed in all four.

Cards with all four of the variations do not feature actual known subjects: These include cards for:

  • Arena
  • Bell
  • Referee
  • Timekeeper

Shown here is an example of all four cards for the referee.

Rules/Gameplay

A total of three rules cards are included in the set. These cards are sometimes considered to be part of the official checklist while other times they are not.

In addition to a rules and scoring card, there are standard rules cards in English and French. The reason for the French translation is because the series was issued in Canada where both languages are spoken.

The game was similar to Rummy. Per those rules cards, gameplay is as follows:

  • Cards are to be shuffled with each player receiving seven cards
  • Remainder of the card to be placed face down in a pile with one card face up
  • Players take turns drawing cards from the pile (or the card face up)
  • Objective is to secure an area card, a bell card, a referee card, a timekeeper card, card of two fighters of the same weight class, and one of the decision cards (decision, draw, foul, knockout) with the same color as one of the fighters.

The decision cards are critical to the outcome. As mentioned, there are four of them an their color must match the color of one of the fighters to win. The decision cards and their color orientation is:

  • Knockout – Black
  • Decision – Red
  • Draw – Green
  • Foul – Orange

1923 Olympia Boxing Playing Cards Checklist

  1. Arena – Black
  2. Arena – Green
  3. Arena – Orange
  4. Arena – Red
  5. Bell – Black
  6. Bell – Green
  7. Bell – Orange
  8. Bell – Red
  9. Soldier Bartfield
  10. Jack Britton
  11. Joe Burman
  12. Georges Carpentier
  13. James Corbett
  14. Eugene Criqui
  15. Johnny Curtin
  16. Decision
  17. Jack Dempsey
  18. Draw
  19. Johnny Dundee
  20. Luis Firpo
  21. Foul
  22. Frankie Genaro
  23. Mike Gibbons
  24. Babe Herman
  25. Pete Herman
  26. Floyd Johnson
  27. Johnny Kilbane
  28. Knockout
  29. Benny Leonard
  30. Referee – Black
  31. Referee – Green
  32. Referee – Orange
  33. Referee – Red
  34. Dave Rozenberg
  35. Rules (English)
  36. Rules (French)
  37. Battling Siki
  38. Jeff Smith
  39. Midget Smith
  40. Bud Taylor
  41. Timekeeper – Black
  42. Timekeeper – Green
  43. Timekeeper – Orange
  44. Timekeeper – Red
  45. Gene Tunney
  46. Benny Valger
  47. Pancho Villa
  48. Mickey Walker
  49. George Ward
  50. Charlie White
  51. Jimmy Wilde
  52. Kid Williams
  53. Harry Wills
  54. Johnny Wilson
  55. Rules and Scoring

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