• Peter Berthoud

A Very Unusual Speed

This previously undocumented pack of Speed (3rd Edition) is unlike any other.


Speed 3rd Edition in plain packaging, formerly owned by Rex Pitts.
Speed 3rd Edition in plain packaging, formerly owned by Rex Pitts.

Speed 3rd Edition, regular box.

The simple white box is made from low grade cardboard, the only print being the word "Speed" in bold black perspective on the identical front and back.


Unlike any other Pepys box of the time the box opens at both ends and both sides have a thumb cut.


The text is 'upside-down" in comparison to all other Pepys card games.


Inside the box is a regular pack of Speed, 3rd Ed., complete with rules.


The 3rd Ed. of the game was published in 1948. Could this white boxed version have been economy packaging, produced in the aftermath of World War II when raw materials were still in short supply?


That seems unlikely, none of Pepys' wartime editions of Kargo, Peter Pan or Belisha were ever this plain. Other new Pepys games released at the time included the twin packs of Express with their high-quality fold-out stations and the handsomely boxed Sylabex. The Pepys board game Housing Drive c. 1946 was positively luxurious, with hundreds of wooden and metal components.


I think it is more likely that this white boxed version of Speed was produced prior to the game going on public sale. Speed 1st Ed. was released in 1938, printed in just two colours to keep costs down and the retail price low. Speed 2nd Ed. followed in 1945 using the same designs but this time in full colour. Speed 3rd Ed. was the first "new" version of the game in nearly a decade.


In order to create pre-release excitement publishers very commonly produce proof, advance and dummy copies of upcoming titles. These are sent to reviewers, exhibited at trade shows, given as gifts to major buyers and issued to sales reps. I think this white boxed Speed was similarly produced to help market the game. Perhaps the final version of the game's box was still in production and the simple white box was used as a stop-gap or maybe the white box was specifically designed to have an allure of its own.


The box's unique design would have been the ideal tool for a sales rep to present the game to a potential buyer. Opened at either end the boldly printed word "Speed" would have been the right way up for a buyer, the opened plain box revealing a first glimpse of the colourful new cards. A "normal" box simply can't be opened with the same flourish. And a "normal" box cannot convey the sense of the viewer being let into a secret, of them being amongst the first to see the contents.


If you know of other examples or have any information you would like to share please drop me a line.