Hawaiian Heritage Playing Cards

[Front of Box]

Hawaiian Heritage Playing Card Co.

[Card Backs][Title Card][Card back: Tattooed Hawaiian Chief, c. 1819]

In 1778, Capt. John Cook first came across the Hawaiian islands on a journey of discovery through the Pacific.  And then the world changed.  By 1820, the whole structure of the island government had changed, and its people and culture were being ravaged by the twin threats of disease and evangelism.  Within a hundred years of Cook's voyage, the native population had been reduced by 80%; Kamehameha's great, unified Hawaii had been all but taken over by white traders; and the temples and the old religion had long since been burned away.  The native people could read their bibles, newly translated into Hawaiian, as they lived in western-style houses, in their western-style clothes.

Even as the monarchy stumbled on, oblivious to its own demise, the government of the new Republic of Hawaii was taken over by the sons of missionaries.  Efforts to restore the overthrown monarchy in the last days of the 19th century were unsuccessful, and, in 1898, Hawaiian President Samuel Dole signed a treaty of annexation with the United States of America, ending its independence altogether.  The native Hawaiians, by no means a majority, were happy neither with the white plantation owners and businessmen who overthrew the monarchy nor with the new American laws.  But Hawaii had started down the long journey to statehood, and the kings and queens of the islands were gone forever.

This deck chronicles, in period hand drawings and photographs, the last 120 years of the history of Royal Hawaii, from the landing of Captain John Cook through to the annexation as a territory by the United States.  It provides no narrative, no judgment, only the images of the people and places that helped shape the history of the string of pearls in the Pacific.  For a history of Hawaii from 1778 to the present, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin is in the midst of a series on the islands' modern history.  http://starbulletin.com/specials/millennium/index.html.  [Naturally, let me know if this link becomes outdated.]

Kawaiahao Church (the Six of Hearts below) is Honolulu's oldest church.  Still in operation today, it was made of some 14,000 hand-hewn coral blocks.  It is the resting place of missionaries, politicians and even King Lunalilo.  It is listed on the National Register of Historic Buildings.

King Kamehameha IV (the King of Diamonds below), Alexander Liholiho, was the grandson of Kamehameha the Great, is known for resisting annexation of Hawai'i to the United states and establishing the Episcopal Church in Hawai'i, Queen's Hospital and Iolani School.  He died at the age of 29.

Queen Kapiolani was one of the last queens of Hawaii (her sister, Liliuokalani, was the last, deposed in 1893).  Not to be confused with her great aunt Kapiolani, one of the first Christian converts in the island who defied the god Pele by walking into a volcano crater, she was best known as the wife of  Kalakaua, whose rule saw a resurgence of interest in traditional Hawaiian culture, even as they were accused of squandering the wealth of the islands as they travelled the world and cultivated European sophistication.

All images © 1982, HHPC, displayed here for commentary, analysis and appreciation only.

Ace of Spades

[Ace of Spades]

Hula Dancers c. 1800

Six of Hearts

[Six of Hearts]

Near the Present Site of
Kawaiahao Church in 1837

King of Diamonds

[King of Diamonds]

King Kamehameha IV

Queen of Clubs

[Queen of Clubs

Queen Kapiolani



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