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Ray’s Hand

House of Cards Note

Ray Eames

1952

Inspired by the childhood pastime of precariously stacking playing cards, House of Cards is one of several toys the Eames Office designed in the early 1950s that helped children learn basic principles of construction. The Eameses transformed the game by creating rigid, plastic-coated paper cards with six notches spaced around their edges, which allowed them to slot together into sturdy and expansive structures. The Eames “houses” were also far more colorful than conventional card towers thanks to the 108 unique designs that appeared on them. These were split between two decks: the “Picture Deck,” for which objects from around the Eameses’ home were carefully selected, arranged, and photographed, and the “Pattern Deck,” featuring a range of mostly geometric patterns largely sourced from fine papers. This particular deck was set aside by Ray to ensure that a first-run would always be available for comparison to later printings. To ensure its safekeeping, Ray wrapped the deck in paper, which she covered with adamant handwritten instructions. At right, her intention for the set becomes clear where an arrow connects the word “SAVE” to the phrase “QUALITY CONTROL,” which is circled and emphasized by an exclamation point, charmingly punctuated with a heart. Flipping the deck over reveals a final word of warning, “DO NOT TOUCH,” written over the papers’ folds.

  • Medium:Pen on paper
  • Dimensions:1/2 x 4 x 2 1/2 in. (1.3 x 10.2 x 6.4 cm)
  • Item:T.2019.2.309