Charming, colourful mid-century “matching game” artwork gets its due – 50 years later

While visiting my in-laws back in Alberta, I came across a beautiful set of “matching game” tiles from Christine’s childhood.  As a graphic designer and retrophile, I realized the moment I laid eyes on them that I had a real find on my hands.

Drawn in a loose, line-art style very typical of the late 50’s / early 60’s, these colourful designs are brimming with whimsy and fun. What’s more, they only get better with close scrutiny, revealing the care that went into each of the 60 different drawings,  each appearing twice in the set for a total of 120 tiles.

The first set of 20 Matching Game designs.
The first set of 20 Matching Game designs.

Printed on heavy cardboard, they managed to survive the wear and tear of a few generations of kids pretty successfully. And so I decided to scan them and present them here, both in “mosaic” form, and each on its own. For the latter, I did a little cleanup and restoration of each one,  erasing the worn edges and cleaning up some of the more noticeable marks. But the printing imperfections, and the sometimes loosely-registered elements, are definitely part of the “look” – and the appeal – of these mini-masterpieces, so I tried not to over-restore them.

I think these really deserve a showcase – and I’d also love to find out who the artist was. This is delightful, detailed, expertly-crafted artwork that ranks right up there alongside the illustrations from any number of classic children’s books.

I’ve displayed them in the above slideshow, plus you can download a zip file of all the drawings. Enjoy!

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