Why Don’t They Make Games Like THIS any More?


“The other night at the bar” (I know, I know…) I learned of a “literary game” I had never heard of before. A card game called “The Game of Authors.” Per my policy, I was at a bar that includes the Buzztime Trivia network (try it some time!) among its offerings (I’m a trivia addict, catching Jeopardy! whenever I can, etc., etc.) and – of course! – I was playing. Another ’regular’ customer and trivia player was sitting to my left, and at one point in the game he or I or both of us confused a literary work’s authorship between Washington Irving and Nathaniel Hawthorne. Eventually settling on the right answer, he explained how he knew it.

“It was from this card game I had as a kid,” he said. “The cards had pictures of authors on them with four or five cards per author, each with a different title of a work of his on the face.” How had I never heard of this game? How had my parents, who I thought had gotten us every educational game known to man, overlooked it? When I asked how it was played, he surprised me again and said, “It was kind of like ‘Go Fish.’” Of course I instantly looked it up on my smart phone and found many references to it. Now my goal is to purchase a set for my “library.”


Have you ever seen or heard of this game? (What a ‘sneaky’ way to help children learn the names of authors and their works!) What other literary or educational games were you playing in your youth (or adulthood!)? A couple others I can remember was a gas station chain (Shell, I think) giving away free (with a fill-up, I presume) aluminum coins featuring all the U.S. Presidents (one on each coin, of course). I loved riffing my fingers through them as a kid, and can still hear the ‘clinking’ sound they made as I’m typing this… I also remember coke or pepsi or “Tab” having collectible bottle-caps for awhile, each featuring a famous historical figure. I can recall peeling off a thin plastic film underneath the cap that uncovered the ‘portrait.’ The only one I can remember today, for some reason is “Amelia Earhart!” How about you, what were some of the educational games you enjoyed?

(below: I found some pictures of the Shell coins online; it was called the “Shell’s Mr. President Coins” game – does anyone else remember these? For more info on the Shell’s Mr. President Coins game, see the link http://billjamie.com/Shell/Shell-Coin-Game/Mr-President-Coin-Game/Mr-President-Coin-Game.html which goes into great and fascinating detail.)




  1. Melissa said,

    July 3, 2013 at 9:59 am

    Oh man! I want to find a copy of this game! Though I would probably have a hard time getting anyone to play it with me.


    • Jay said,

      July 3, 2013 at 10:10 am

      Ha! Yes, that might be the most challenging part of the game!

      (I also found it amusing that Nathaniel Hawthorne is suddenly a “blond” in this game!)


  2. Jane said,

    July 3, 2013 at 11:34 am

    This game kind of reminds me of one of my favorite board games as a child, Masterpiece, whereby as I recall, you would collect famous pieces of art by Van Gogh, Picasso and occasionally, a Rembrandt forgery! To this day, I think I know some art masterpieces just from playing this game. Did anyone play “Music Memory” in school?


    • Jay said,

      July 3, 2013 at 12:34 pm

      Hi Jane,

      We didn’t have the Masterpiece game, but I do remember it. Probably some friends or friends’ siblings had it. Maybe I’m remembering the tv commercials for it(?)

      We had a card game called “crazy eights” which I think is also similar to “Go Fish.”

      Yes, I remember Music Memory in school. I didn’t like it very much – it seemed such a transparent ruse to get us to “appreciate” music “someone else decided was good” that I resisted it. 🙂



      • Jane said,

        July 3, 2013 at 12:50 pm

        Wow you were a free-thinker even back then! Not me, surprise. If my music teacher told me to something, I did it, never questioning her authority.

        My master card skills will have to correct you a bit. “Crazy Eights” is probably most similar to the card game “Uno” today while “Go Fish” sounds like your “Authors” game, where you are trying to collect 4 of a kind, or a book.


        • Jay said,

          July 3, 2013 at 12:54 pm

          Now off to go look up crazy eights! 🙂 I’m sure you’re right about that one.

          I do vaguely remember some other game we had, though – and this was before I knew “Go Fish” existed – that was similar. I recall when other kids taught me “Go Fish” I thought, “hey that’s just a rip-off of game x” (of course it was probably the other way around!)


  3. Dale said,

    July 3, 2013 at 2:36 pm

    Jay, I have vague memories of somehow knowing about the authors game, but I can’t recall ever having it or playing it. As I got older, the “Art and Literature” category of Trivial Pursuit was always my favorite.



    • Jay said,

      July 3, 2013 at 4:42 pm

      The more I look at the picture, the more some of those cards look familiar, but maybe it’s just the authors’ portraits I’ve seen before.

      Trivial Pursuit? Yeah, A&L was one of my six strongest categories… 🙂


  4. Paula Cappa said,

    July 6, 2013 at 12:04 pm

    I’m not good at any card games,but this one I’d love to play.


  5. July 1, 2016 at 10:10 am

    Jay, if you want more blast-from-the-past photos of the Mr. President Coin Game, I have created a page on my website for it. Go to billjamie.com and click on ‘Mr. President Coin Game.’ Bill.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jay said,

      July 1, 2016 at 10:24 am

      Fascinating info! Thanks so much for sharing! I have updated my post to include a link to your page on this game. I have such fond memories of these things from back in the late 60s and early 70s. Another favorite was Sunoco’s collectible NFL Football “Stamps.” Boy, were my friends and I ever addicted to those things!


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