I bought this box with three sets of cards inside based on one photo not revealing much, but it was enough to pique my curiosity, and I'm glad it did! I think all of them, box included, date to the 1880s or so, and it appears that all three sets of cards are complete or very close to it--and they are all quite rare and pretty fun ones!
The smallest cards are divided into question and answer cards, and I've found one other set somewhat similar that suggests that might have been used as calling cards of sorts (the size would be right), with the questions posed by a suitor and the answer returned by the recipient. With questions such as "Do you love home, or would you rather Leave your dear mother and your father?" and answers such as "Oh I beg you do not press, Or I should surely answer yes," that seems possible, but I think more likely that they comprised a parlor game devised for courting--certainly all about flirtation either way!
The second set of questions cards are larger but similar in nature, but were indeed a game of sorts, with specific rules, titled "Courtship of Jonathan Peas and Sally Marrowfat" (!) One player would hold the question cards and read the first line on "his" card, then "the one who holds the Answer reads the first card on hers." The the question-holder reads their couplet, and then the answerer, hers. Ah, surely endless hours of fun!
Finally, a set of Authors cards, definitely complete, which I believe would be played more or less like "go Fish", where one is seeking to fish for sets of 4 cards, including one author and three with the names of books written by him (yes, all males.) I know that Authors was a fairly popular game with lots of different sets produced, but I have found no exact match for these and believe them to be quite an early deck.
All cards have blank backs. As pictured, there is a fair amount of staining to the two decks of questions (perhaps from spilled coffee or tea or cocktails) but the authors cards are in very good shape. The box also shows lots of wear, but is still pretty neat, with cut paper trim around the top and what appears to be brass ornamentation at center. Inspiration perhaps for a Victorian-themed games night (or zoom party), or a new (old) approach to flirtation!
Box measures 8 1/4" l x 4 1/4" w x 1 1/4" t. Small questions cards 2 1/2" x 1 1/2". Larger questions cards 3" x 2 1/4"/ Authors cards 3 5/8" x 2 1/2".