Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Flash Card Memory

I like to think that this English card game from 1878 heralded the development of the flash card. Not that kind of flash card, but the kind used for teaching spelling and math to young children. This set, featuring animals, may not be your typical flash cards, but they were an effective teaching device at the time. There were 11 sets of cards, each featuring a lead card with a picture of an animal: a cat, cow, ass, fox, goat, hare, horse, lion, pig or rat. The other cards in the set spell out the name of the animal with some elaborately illustrated letterforms. A point system was awarded to players for identifying the letters and spelling the words correctly.
      A few years back, I was delighted to discover I still owned a set of flash cards circa 1960, and the font of choice was Futura. I happily discovered them tucked inside a handmade envelope alongside some sappy Valentine cards I saved from my 1st grade classmates. These contemporary flash cards are not nearly as nice as the Victorian card game above, but they stirred some fun memories of "Fun with Phonics" and learning how to spell and read. They are now my flashback cards—for people who have trouble remembering—especially the 60s.

:: 19th century card game via the Victoria & Albert Museum. Flashback cards
courtesy the Letterology Archives.

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