Above: Hidden meanings in painting by Hieronimus Bosch, where souls are tormented by fear, anxiety, chaos and distress more →
Above: detail from “The Card Players”, after Lucas van Leyden, Netherlandish, probably c. 1550-1599 more →
Playing cards have been known in the Low Countries since the 14th century, mostly imported from France or Belgium, but until the 17th century there were few Dutch card makers. An edict from Lyons in 1583 caused many French playing card makers to emigrate so some of them may have arrived in Holland.
Above: detail from “Man and Woman Playing Cards” by Dutch artist from the circle of Anthoine Palamedesz (1601-1673). The card game is used as a metaphor for love: the man is handing the ace of hearts to the woman. Image courtesy Grosvenor Art Gallery, Chester.
Above: detail from “The card game on the cradle allegory” attributed to Johannes van Wijckersloot, 1683 more →
Above: de Speelkaartemaker.
The woman at front-right is using a very large pair of cutting shears, whilst in the background several other operations, such as colouring, are being performed.
During the 17th century, Holland’s so-called Golden Age, Amsterdam witnessed a great blossoming in the manufacture of playing cards and thanks to their steadily increasing production, they were able to capture a significant portion of the European market. In 1662 card makers joined a new guild, together with booksellers, printers and binders. This meant that their interests could be better protected against plagiarism and unfair competition.
Above: card from Henry Winstanley's Geographical playing cards, 1676, depicting a Dutchman and woman in typical outfits along with the most important geographic, political and economic facts of the day.
Above: Kriegs-Spiel by Peter Schencken, Amsterdam, c.1670
Above: Archaeological find: old playing cards under the floorboards.
Early manufacturers based in Amsterdam at that time include Jean Fouquet, whose cards resemble French cards in suit marks and other characteristics, P. Mortier, who also imitated French educational, geographical or satirical packs, J. Gole, Gerard Valk, Carel de Wagenaar and A. de Winter. A number of French card-makers emigrated to Holland because of the duties imposed at home. A two-volume “Traité du Jeu” concerning the morality of gaming was published in Amsterdam in 1709 and editions of “Maison des Jeux” (1702) and “Académie des Jeux” (1728) were also published. In the 18th century non-standard pictorial cards were exported to England.
Among later cards made in Holland, the majority have French suit signs. Sometimes the courts resemble French ones, sometimes German ones, and very often these packs have pictorial aces.
Above: late 19th century War deck by Nederlandsche Speelkaarten Fabriek from Amsterdam
Above: “S. M. N” shipping line playing cards produced by Nederlandse Speelkaarten Fabriek, c.1910 more →
Above: advertisement for Speelkaartenfabriek Nederland, which operated from 1909-1969 until it was taken over by Carta Mundi in 1970.
Above: Speelkaartenfabriek Nederland “Fortuna” deck, 1926
Above: Elegant “Nieuw Neerlandia” pattern designed by M.A. Koekkoek, 1930
Above: Sikar publicity deck by Speelkaartenfabriek Nederland, Amsterdam, 1935 more →
Above: Maritime pack designed by J.Verhoeven and printed by Speelkaartenfabriek Nederland c1938 more →
Above: Historic card game published for Noord Braband Insurance Society, manufactured by Speelkaartenfabriek Nederland, 1943 more →
Above: B. Dondorf's “Fynste Java Speelkaarten” for the former Dutch East Indies during the colonial period, 1879
Above: Nederlandsche Oliefabriek Calvé quartet game, c.1920
Above: Albert Heijn’s “Boffie” Kwartetspel first published in 1936 more →
Above: Anonymous Dutch deck, 1940s more →
Above: Hollywood Stars, c.1957 more →
Above: “De Kloof” Advertising Playing Cards, c.1970
Above: Genoese pattern made in Hungary for Dutch market, 1970s
Above: Netherlands Antilles stamps issued on May 26, 1977
Above: “Noord Brabant” deck designed by Han Janssen and printed by Carta Mundi in 1992 for the I.P.C.S. convention in Veldhoven, Netherlands. The courts show farmers, women and guild members in local costumes. The jokers show representatives of the carnival tradition in North Brabant.
Above: Dienst Justitiële Inrichtingen playing cards, c.2003
Above: publicity deck by Esveco Specialities for Alto Imaging Group more →
Above: North German pattern printed by KZWP-Trefl for Fortuna Speelkaarten, 2004
Above: Souvenir for Rijksmuseum Amsterdam by Hearts Playingcards, c.2012 [www.heartsplayingcards.com]
Above: Rhineland pattern for the Netherlands with Dutch scenic aces by F X Schmid, c.1990