Charade Cards

These cards were made by a Boston woman many years ago. "The original artist/creator was either Lucy Orne Nichols Bowditch (1816-1883) or Adelaide Walker Rice (1830-1917)." The former was born in Salem and died in Boston; she is buried in Mt. Auburn Cemetery.

Technically the cards are rebuses ("a puzzle in which words are represented by combinations of pictures and individual letters.")

A descendant (great grandson) had them reproduced by Meriden Gravure, a fine printer in Connecticut no longer in business.

Many years ago I and three others (Sidney Smith, Jo Del Gaeth and Alfie Rudnick—perhaps a fourth, Louise Tate) saw a deck at a weekend house party and enjoyed them immensely. We enquired if there were any extra decks that we could purchase. There were no extras but the descendant offered to have another edition printed if we paid for them. We had 1,000 sets produced and I ended up as the one who did most of the marketing. They eventually all sold out. But I did have 20 or so uncut sheets left over and a year or so ago had them cut up and boxed.

Another batch of the cards was produced by the descendant in 1986.

The orginals are in the possession of one of the sons of the descendant. He reports that they are the same size as the reprints. They are watercolors with ink writing (the text on the present cards was done for the reprints). The originals "are in a leather box presumably made for them which on one side has an engraved clock with one moveable arm. I would assume their creation was entertainment for the creator/artist and for subsequently for her family and friends."

The idea is to look at the image and read the text and try to guess what the answer might be. Some aren't too hard (example: "An obstacle to success" with an image of a swan with the letter T in its beak. The answer: "In a Bill, a T" i.e. "inability.") Some are close to impossible particularly ones with classical roots.

The answers to the Charade Cards may be found at .

—Robert Stephenson, February, 2021.

Click here to see the cards.