40 Thieves & How To Catch Them - A Game by Henry Reason 1886
40 Thieves and How to Catch Them. A Newly Invented Game. Very Funny, Easy to Play, Exciting, Interesting. For Old & Young. Henry Reason's Copyright.
40 Thieves and How to Catch Them by Henry Reason - Box front
The game contains forty-eight cards, eight Constables and forty Thieves. Each Constable's card has the name of five Thieves that he is able to arrest. The Thieves are a mixture of characters drawn from literature, nursery rhymes and folk tales along with some real life criminals.
The description on the back of the box reassured potential purchasers that the game was "quite free from vulgarity".
All of the cards are shown below, beneath them are some notes on the Thieves and lastly the full rules. To see an expanded view of any image just click on it.
Constable Catchem wants:
Dick Turpin, Man with the White Hat, Procrastination, Cupid, Will Stutely
6 Dick Turpin - Your money or your life.
5 Man with the White Hat - Who stole the donkey?
4 Procrastination - The thief of time.
3 Cupid - Who steals the hearts of men.
2 Will Stutely - The merry outlaw.
Constable Bluebottle wants:
Robin Hood, Young Lochinvar, Little John, Will Scarlet, Poins
6 Robin Hood - In the Greenwood lived, under the Greenwood tree.
5 Young Lochinvar - She is won! We are gone!
4 Little John - My name is Little John.
3 Will Scarlet - Robin Hood’s nephew.
2 Poins - No better than a thief.
Constable Coppers wants:
Jackdaw of Rheims, Artful Dodger, Taffy the Welshman, Autolycus, Pistol
6 Jackdaw of Rheims - When nobody’s dreaming of any such thing, That little Jackdaw hops off with ring.
5 Artful Dodger - Every man’s true apparel, if its your thief.
4 Taffy the Welshman - There was a thief. He came to my house and stole a piece of beef.
3 Autolycus - A snapper up of unconsidered trifles.
2 Pistol - A nimble hand is necessary for a cut-purse.
Constable Runfast wants:
Falstaff, Tom, The Piper’s Son, Molly Magee, King Arthur, Fagin
6 Falstaff - We that take purses go by the moon.
5 Tom, The Piper’s Son - Stole a pig and away he run.
4 Molly Magee - My Mother’s maid, She stole oranges I’m afraid, Some in her pocket, Some in her sleeve, She stole oranges I believe.
3 King Arthur - Stole a peck of meal to make a bag-pudding.
2 Fagin - Professor of pilfering.
Constable Juggins wants:
Rob Roy, Jack of the Beanstalk, Cartouche, Nancy, Gadshill
6 Rob Roy - Scotland has a thief as good, She has her brave Rob Roy.
5 Jack of the Beanstalk - Jack ran off with the Giant’s harp.
4 Cartouche - Arrêtez-vous messieurs!
3 Nancy - The burglar’s wife.
2 Gadshill - I have a wondrous nose for the blessed image of Good King Harry.
Constable Collarem wants:
Jack Sheppard, Captain Kidd, Claude Duval, Bardolph, Nym
6 Jack Sheppard - Stand and deliver.
5 Captain Kidd - The Pirate King.
4 Claude Duval - Your horses gentlemen.
3 Bardolph - There’s money of the King’s coming down the hill.
2 Nym - At hand, quoth pickpurse.
Constable Bumble wants:
Bill Sikes, The Dish, Puss in Boots, Charlie Bates, Cogia Houssain
6 Bill Sikes - The big burglar.
5 The Dish - Ran away with the spoon.
4 Puss in Boots - An artful cat.
3 Charlie Bates - A reg’lar bad ‘un.
2 Cogia Houssain - Captain of the 40 Thieves.
Constable Peeler wants:
Knave of Hearts, Friar Tuck, Allan-a-Dale, Peto, Midge the Miller
6 Knave of Hearts - He stole those tarts and took them right away.
5 Friar Tuck - Which many a sermon made, in praise of Robin Hood, his outlaws and their trade.
4 Allan-a-Dale - Robin Hood’s minstrel.
3 Peto - There are cozeners abroad: therefore it behoves men to be wary.
2 Midge the Miller - Made many a mealy joke.
Five of the game's characters are drawn from Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens, published between 1837-1839.
The seven Shakespearean characters all appear in one or more of the plays, Henry IV Part I & II, The Merry Wives of Windsor and Henry V.
Sir John Falstaff and his associates:
Gadshill, the text on Gadshill's card "I have a wondrous nose for the blessed image of Good King Harry." comes from The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood - Midge the Miller's Son (1883) by Howard Pyle.
Robin Hood and his Merry Men are represented by seven figures.
Midge the Miller (or Much The Miller’s Son)
Six famous criminals feature in the game.
Cartouche, Louis Dominique Garthausen (1693-1721) A French highwayman, executed by being broken on a wheel in Paris.
Claude Duval or Claude Du Vall (1643-1670) Highwayman, executed at Tyburn, buried in St. Paul’s Covent Garden.
Captain Kidd (1654-1701) William Kidd a convicted Pirate, executed at Wapping, decomposed in Tilbury.
Rob Roy, Rob Roy MacGregor (1671-1734) Pardoned Scottish outlaw.
Jack Sheppard (1702-1724) John or Jack Sheppard, “Honest Jack” thief and prison escapee, hanged at Tyburn, buried in St. Martin-in-the-Fields.
Dick Turpin, Richard Turpin (1705-1739) Highwayman, hanged at Knavesmere, York, possibly buried in Fishergate, York.
Folk Tales, Nursery Rhymes, Poetry, Myth & Legend
Autolycus - Greek mythological figure, skilled in theft and trickery. Also a character in Shakespeare's A Winter's Tale, in Act 4 of which Autolycus says "And indeed, sir, there are cozeners abroad; therefore it behoves men to be wary."these words are quoted on Peto's card in the game.
Cogia Houssain - Captain of the thieves in the Arabian folk tale Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves.
Cupid - Roman God of love.
The Dish - From the Nursery Rhyme, Hey Diddle Diddle.
Jack of the Beanstalk - From the folk tale Jack the Giant Killer.
Jackdaw of Rheims - From The Ingoldsby Legends by Thomas Ingoldsby, pen name of Richard Harris Barham (1788-1845).
King Arthur - Legendary British King
Knave of Hearts - From the Nursery Rhyme, The Queen of Hearts.
Molly Magee - The text on the card "My Mother’s maid, She stole oranges I’m afraid, Some in her pocket, Some in her sleeve, She stole oranges I believe." comes from a Nursery Rhyme, variously recorded as beginning as "Humpity Dumpity" or "Dingty Diddlety" or "Higgledy Piggledy" and sometimes called The Orange Stealer. None of the versions I have been able to find mention Molly Magee. John Clare's poem Molly Magee seems unconnected.
Puss in Boots - From the folk tale.
Taffy the Welshman - From the Nursery Rhyme, Taffy was a Welshman
Tom, The Piper’s Son - From the Nursery Rhyme, Tom, Tom the Piper’s Son
Young Lochinvar - From the poem Marmion by Sir Walter Scott
"Procrastination is the thief of time" - A popular proverb that originated in the poem Night-Thoughts by Edward Young (1683-1765).
"Who stole the donkey?" was a 19th Century joke or cry made when a person wearing a white hat was seen. The response to the question was “The man with the white hat.”.
"It was said, in the middle of the nineteenth century, that white hats were made of the skins of donkeys, and that many donkeys were stolen and sold to hatters.", Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, (1894) p854.
There is a very full discussion of other possible strands in the phrase's origins, particularly in relation to its use by James Joyce in Finnegan's Wake, here.
THE "FORTY THIEVES."
Any number from three to eight can play, each player receiving ten counters.
DIRECTIONS FOR PLAYING
1. The dealer first takes the eight constable cards and deals them, face downwards to the players, giving them one or two each according to the number playing. If any remain over they must be shuffled in with the Thief cards which are to be then dealt round, face downwards, as far as thy will go.
2. The player on the left of the dealer then begins the game by laying down one of his Thief cards, face upwards, and demanding from one of the players, the number of counters marked on his card
(thus "Robin Hood wants 6").
3. Any player thus challenged must pay the number demanded unless he holds a Constable card with the thief's name upon it in which case he takes the Thief card, and fines the one who played it double the number of counters demanded, placing the Thief card caught, face downwards before him. If the thief be not caught, the owner can continue demanding counters from as many of the other players as he pleases, and then pass the turn to the next player, taking back his Thief card.
4. The players each follow in turn until all the thieves are caught, when the player having the greatest number of Thief cards wins the game.
Any player on being challenged a second time by the same thief can give him into custody by requesting any player, whom he thinks holds the right Constable card, to take the thief; but if the person so asked does not hold the Constable card, then the thief's demand must be paid - if the thief is caught in this way he is not fined.
When a player cannot pay the number of counters demanded, he must pay as many as he can, but if he have none at all he must forfeit a card (anyone he likes) to the demander.
Players must, before commencing play, put out of their hands all their thief cards that are named on their own constable cards, counting them with the thieves they catch during play.
The game was printed by Hadlow of Brighton, their name is on the front of the box.
The British Museum holds a copy of 40 Thieves in their Department of Prints and Drawings.