See Decades Of Little Old Ladies From 130 Years Of Old Maid


The origins of the card game Old Maid trace back to the 17th century, with players trying to form pairs out of all of their cards until someone—the loser—is left with the lonely, unmatched, single old maid. In the past 130 years, retail card decks have been produced specifically for Old Maid, always featuring illustrations of the dreaded losing card. In reviewing these decks that span three centuries, it’s interesting to see how the Old Maid has evolved over the years and how the more things change, the more they stay the same.

The earliest incarnations of the Old Maid were often bespectacled, witch-y women who wore absolutely no makeup.

The 1930s saw Old Maids a little dressier and apparently afflicted with Rosacea, which was perhaps influenced by the repeal of Prohibition. So essentially, this batch of Old Maids were really Old Drunks.

Beginning in the 1960s, Old Maids were depicted as avid knitters.

One thread involving Old Maids—no matter what decade—is the depiction of them as creepy cat ladies.

Another timeless portrayal of Old Maids is that of stuffy, yet comically sad Victorian women.

From the 1950s on, popular imagery of Old Maids included well-off, benevolent women in straw hats with flowers.

Beginning in the 1980s Old Maids were interpreted quite literally as elderly women with feather dusters.

More modern versions of Old Maids aren’t nearly as stuffy as their predecessors and sometimes aren’t even human.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Share Tweet Submit Pin