The Air at the Top of the Bottle

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Children’s Card Games (55)

April 17th, 2009 · 23 Comments


In keeping with the medical theme of our upcoming event, “Medi-Vaudeville,” we offer “The Comical Game of Dr. Quack.”  It’s not, strictly speaking, a game: more of an amusement.  One player reads the rollicking doggerel about Dr. Quack’s wedding to Miss Hen; others draw cards bearing nouns to be inserted in blanks in the story. 


Like the earlier “Peter Coddle,” or the later “Mad Libs,” it’s all about the non sequiturs.  This version is from Russell, probably sometime in the ’30s.  And here’s the doctor in 1960, again from Russell.


(Posted by Doug Skinner)

Tags: Card Games · Ephemera

23 responses so far ↓

  • 1 elena // Apr 19, 2009 at 9:24 pm

    one of my all time favorites

  • 2 Lisa // Apr 20, 2009 at 3:55 pm

    Those games sound fun.

  • 3 mamie // Apr 21, 2009 at 10:56 pm

    Both Dr. Quacks looks very compassionate and sensible. Any idea how they became synonymous with a fraud/incompetent doctor?

  • 4 Lisa // Apr 22, 2009 at 11:51 am

    The first doctor reminds me of my grandfather (r.i.p.). Are those plaid spats on the second doctor?

  • 5 Riin Rio // Apr 23, 2009 at 6:41 pm

    Here, Mamie, is a quack explanation from

    “Quacksalver” means a person who makes meaningless noise (“quack”) about his cure-all ointments (“salve”), and the word has nothing to do with mercury. The word “quacksalber” in German means exactly what “quacksalver” means in English (and Dutch) and has done so for several centuries………..

  • 6 phyllis jensen // May 7, 2009 at 10:15 am

    I want to buy the game of Dr. Quack in any or all of its various editions. Can you tell me how? I am a reading teacher.

  • 7 Doug // May 7, 2009 at 11:02 pm

    I think all the editions are out of print. Russell sold countless copies in its “Library of Games,” a set of six miniature games. You can easily find them in flea markets or on eBay. Good luck!

  • 8 Paul B. // Jul 12, 2009 at 10:49 am

    I recently found a Dr. Quack game – and also an “Animal Rummy” game by the same manufacturer, Russell. I bought them in an antique store for a very low price. It appears they were made in 1939.

  • 9 Laura S. // Nov 24, 2009 at 12:26 am

    This weekend my family gathered for the funeral of our beloved grandmother, mother, sister and aunt, who was a great lover of fun, family, music, and vintage games – among them, Dr. Quack. There are only sixteen of us, and our dinners together are always informal, so last night as we sat down together I passed out the Dr. Quack cards – and we ate, played and laughed until we cried. It had been *years* since any of us had enjoyed that game. I just know that Grandma was right there with us in spirit, playing along and laughing just as hard as anyone in the room. Thanks for the memories, dear old Dr. Quack!

  • 10 DONALD GOSS // Mar 9, 2011 at 10:29 pm


  • 11 Doug // Mar 10, 2011 at 9:17 am

    No, no idea. I think I paid under $5 for each of the decks above, though.

  • 12 gail schenck // Apr 20, 2011 at 2:39 pm

    as a child we played dr quack starts out :i guess you have all seen dr quack whowears a coat upon his back. this is the reading game. could you please tell me where i can get one today i have checked every place i can think of. thanks for any info you can give me. gail

  • 13 Doug // Apr 20, 2011 at 7:10 pm

    Gail — I found my copies at flea markets. They frequently show up on eBay too. Good luck!

  • 14 Linda Vornheder // Oct 20, 2011 at 2:07 pm

    I was cleaning a closet and found our cards, but the story was not with them. Is anybody willing to e-mail me a scanned copy of the Instructions/story? to

  • 15 Marcia MacLennan // Oct 27, 2011 at 11:48 am

    I’d love to find this game again to play…

  • 16 Marcia MacLennan // Dec 16, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    Where do I buy this game? I loved it as a child.

  • 17 Doug // Dec 17, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    Marcia — It turns up at flea markets and antique shops, usually for not much money. There are probably online vendors, too. Good luck!

  • 18 name Children’s Card Games (180) // Jul 26, 2012 at 8:46 pm

    […] Peter Coddle games were early versions of “Mad Libs,” or of “Dr. Quack.”  One player read about Peter Coddle’s misadventures; other players drew cards to fill in […]

  • 19 Lois VanDress // Dec 26, 2012 at 9:02 pm

    I have a complete box with instructions of the 1960 version of the game. I’d like to sell. Email me if you are interested.

  • 20 name Children’s Card Games (204) // Jun 8, 2014 at 11:11 pm

    […] by Parker Brothers, was another precursor of “Mad Libs,” like the other early games “Dr. Quack” and “Peter Coddle.”  One player reads the story of Silas’s attempts to overcome […]

  • 21 Ken Letsom // Aug 14, 2014 at 6:47 am

    I recently purchased a set of Dr. Quack cards but no story paper. Can you tell me where I might find one?

  • 22 Doug // Aug 14, 2014 at 9:05 am

    I thought of posting the story, but someone else already has. You can find it here:

  • 23 name Memorable Magazines (6): Grump // Aug 24, 2016 at 1:14 pm

    […] he and Leonard Stern invented Mad Libs (actually a twist on such old amusements as Peter Coddle or Dr. Quack), and formed Price Stern Sloan (with Larry Sloan) to sell […]

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