Dan Baines

Fairy Rings and Monstrous Things

The Devil Made Me Do It, pick a sin, any sin...

The great thing about a blog is that you're never sure who is reading it. Sometimes you wonder if anyone is actually reading it at all but every now and again your receive some form of reassurance that your posts don't just vanish into the electronic ether.

Last week I received a response to my 'The Devil Made Me Do It' blog post from 10th June. The reader kindly pointed me in the direction of a well known History Channel antiques hunting show based in the US. He recalled that in a very early episode of season 2 the team came across a barn in South Carolina owned by a crazy old hoarder who collected religious items.

One of the items the team found was a deck of cards that depicted sins. This sounded awfully familiar to the cards that accompanied the strange game I had acquired. So I set about trying to trace the exact episode through various channels, some legitimate and some not so. I eventually found the episode on a Russian site that hosted nearly every History & Discovery Channel program and their associates episodes as well as numerous other shows. I had strong doubts that the site was legal but armed with good virus protection and a fast internet connection I found what I wanted. For legal reasons I'm unable to upload the clip to YouTube but I will do my best to describe it and I have provided some screen shots.

I found the part of the show where the team tried with all of their persuasion and charm to get the serial spiritual hoarder to part with some of his loot which was proving easier said than done. Then from behind a rusty Coca Cola sign one of the show presenters pulled out an old box containing various standard church items, an old bible, a crucifix, order of service leaflets and a mysterious deck of cards.

The presenter remarked on the odd find and jokingly asked his partner in crime to "pick a card, any card!". He picks a card and reads it aloud, "Your Sin is blaspheming". He then briefly holds the card up so the back can be seen and there it was, the back of the card had The Devil Made Me Do It logo! The card was an exact match for the few I had in the studio and to know that there was another complete set in existence was unbelievable.

The most remarkable thing was that when the show presenter asked the old chap how much he wanted for the cards he replied "nah, you can have 'em, maybe they'll help you stay on the righteous path".

I then jumped straight to Google to source a contact number or address for the business featured in the show and minutes later I was composing an e-mail asking how much they wanted for the Sin deck!

I explained that I had a number of cards and an original The Devil Made Me Do It 'game' in various bits. I asked firstly if they still had the deck and secondly how much they were willing to sell it for.

They replied a few days later saying the deck wasn't for sale. They did however, offer to scan all of the cards and send me a pdf copy in return for keeping them in the loop on how the restoration of the original machine was developing.

So I now have a full deck of all 48 Sin cards from The Devil Made Me Do It. My personal favourite has to be the 'Eating Blood' card. It's almost incomprehensible to think that vampirism was still feared in 1950s America!

The actual card dimensions are a little larger than standard business cards so I cleaned up the pdf scans and combined them with artwork from the few card I had to produce a replica deck.

The restoration of the game is coming along nicely and I'll be blogging some images soon. The actual exterior is almost complete but the internal workings are way beyond my technical level.  As ironic as it sounds, the mechanism is so odd it could've been designed by the Devil himself!