Snap card game, England, 1930s
© Victoria and Albert Museum, London

John Jaques, a well known London maker and publisher of games, introduced the game of Snap in 1866, using illustrations of the ‘grotesque characters’ he had used in Happy Families. Snap cards are arranged in groups, like Happy Families, but each card in a group bears the same picture.

One player deals out all the cards, one at a time and face down. Each player puts his cards in a pile face down in front of him and the players are not allowed to look at their cards. The dealer or the player to his left turns over the top card of his pile, the next player does likewise and so on around the players until the cards on the top of any two face-up piles are the same.  The first player to shout ‘snap’ collects both piles and adds them face down to the bottom of his pile. Play then continues passing to the left of the last player to turn over.

If two players shout ‘Snap’ together, the matching cards are put face up in a pool in the centre. This pool is won by the first player to shout ‘Snap Pool’ when the top card of any player’s pile matches the top card in the pool. When a player runs out of face down cards he simply turns over his face up cards when it is his next turn. The object of the game is to win all the cards.

Versions of the game include Speed Snap where players still turn their cards up one at a time, but all the players do so together. Easy Snap is particularly suitable for very young children. Instead of having individual face up piles, each player plays his cards into a central face up pile. Players shout ‘Snap’ when the top two cards are the same.