After the development of printing at the end of the 15th century, Rouen became an important centre for card-making whose influence extended far afield. Cards from Rouen are significant because they became the model from which our English pack subsequently evolved.
The King of Hearts carries a hawk on his wrist, while the King of Clubs holds an orb with a surmounted cross. All the Queens hold fans as well as flowers. This pattern was used in various parts of eastern France but was ultimately replaced by the official ‘Paris’ pattern in c.1780.
Cartes Catalanes are used in a small area in the Eastern Pyrenées region of Southern France.
Set of medieval playing cards has 52 cards with King, Queen, Knave and numeral cards from one to ten in each of the four suits of dog collars, tethers (for the hounds), nooses (for birds or small game), and hunting horns. These suits refer to the activity of hunting, as practised by the nobility.
A “Questions & Answers” family game from France produced by Imagerie Pellerin.
A special non-standard pack of playing cards was designed by M. Marie for the maiden voyage of the transatlantic liner S.S. France in 1962. The four Aces depict previous ships named “France” and the court cards show typical crew and passengers from the respective eras
Livre du Destin / The Book of Fate, c.1900, entire deck (32 cards)
Livre du Destin or Book of Fate, printed by B.P.Grimaud, Paris, c.1900. During the the nineteenth century various types of fortune-telling, oracle, Lenormand, sybil and destiny cards became popular and many decks such as the ones shown here were published in Paris.
Spanish-suited Aluette pack with 'FABRICANDO IN MADRID' printed on the Two of Swords and the legend Lequart - Paris printed in the top left corners of the court cards.
The assorted antique playing cards shown below are examples of the French 'Paris' pattern from the seventeenth century. The Jack of Clubs has the name Richard Bouvier.
Aluette playing cards manufactured by Dieudonné & Cie, Angers (France), early 20th century
Finely engraved deck by F. d'Alphonse Arnoult (Paris), c.1860. 52 cards.
The Dauphiné pattern is an archaic French pattern which was manufactured in the Lyons region from the 17th century.
During the latter part of the nineteenth century De La Rue produced two special packs of cards for the Continental market. The Aces of Spades are marked "De La Rue & Co. London and Paris".
The design is purely 'Parisian' but the colouring is green, red, yellow and black. Belgium has taken this pattern for general use.
Boisse English pattern, c.1870 based on designs by De La Rue.
The Paris pattern was established as such around the middle of the seventeenth century (based, perhaps, on the cards of Hector of Troyes).
Some of the oldest cards still in existence come from France. Much of the early history of cards in France is to do with standard designs and their spread, coupled with a keen sense of economic advantage.
Archaic, late medieval Spanish-suited playing cards printed by Phelippe Ayet, c.1574
49 assorted cards were found hidden in the lintel of a doorway, in an old building in Toledo, during demolition, and are now preserved in the the Museo de Santa Cruz de Toledo.
Cards from a translucent pack. Erotic images are concealed in the middle layer of the card and become visible when held up to a light.