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Playing cards have been with us since the 14th century, when they first entered popular culture. Over the centuries packs of cards, in all shapes and sizes, have been used for games, gambling, education, conjuring, advertising, fortune telling, political messages or the portrayal of national or ethnic identity. All over the world, whatever language is spoken, their significance is universal. Their popularity is also due to the imaginative artwork and graphic design which is sometimes overlooked, and the “then & now” of how things have changed.

Salzburger Pattern

Salzburger pattern by Ferd. Piatnik & Söhne, Vienna

The Austrian Salzburger pattern is a later variant of, and more or less the same as, the German Bavarian pattern, except that it has the Salzburg coat-of-arms (a turreted gateway) on the king of bells’ shield. The king of hearts’ shield has a barred anchor and a blindfold cupid appears on the two, or daus, of hearts. With its other cousins from neighbouring countries (Bohemian and Franconian patterns) its origin can be traced back to cards of the 16th century. The small vignettes on the numeral cards, depicting folkloric scenes, add extra charm.

Salzburger pattern by Ferd. Piatnik & Söhne, Vienna Salzburger pattern by Ferd. Piatnik & Söhne, Vienna

Above: Salzburger pattern by Ferd. Piatnik & Söhne, Vienna. 36 cards, single-ended courts. The ‘WELI’ card (six of bells together with one pip of acorns and hearts) is found in several German-suited Austrian packs. Images courtesy Matt Probert.

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By Matt Probert

Member since March 02, 2012

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I have adored playing cards since before I was seven years old, and was brought up on packs of Waddington's No 1. As a child I was fascinated by the pictures of the court cards.

Over the next fifty years I was seduced by the artwork in Piatnik's packs and became a collector of playing cards.

Seeking more information about various unidentified packs I discovered the World of Playing Cards website and became an enthusiastic contributor researching and documenting different packs of cards.

I describe my self as a playing card archaeologist, using detective work to identify and date obscure packs of cards discovered in old houses, flea markets and car boot sales.

Recommended

Kaffeehaus-Pikett

Kaffeehaus-Pikett

Kaffeehaus-Pikett featuring the old Viennese Large Crown pattern, made by ASS.

64: The descendants of the French regional patterns: 2

64: The descendants of the French regional patterns: 2

A continuation of the development of the off-spring of the Paris patterns and a few examples of how the French regional figures have inspired modern designers.

63: The descendants of the French regional patterns: 1

63: The descendants of the French regional patterns: 1

A great many regional patterns were exported from France and subsequently copied elsewhere. Some of them became local standards in their own right.

62: French regional patterns: the queens and jacks

62: French regional patterns: the queens and jacks

Continuing our look at the figures from the regional patterns of France.

61: French regional patterns: the kings

61: French regional patterns: the kings

On page 11 I illustrated several examples of the regional French patterns from Sylvia Mann's collection; this is a more in-depth look at the figures of these patterns ("portraits" in French).

Modern English Court

Modern English Court

Modern English court style by Games & Print Services Limited, c.1997.

Dal Negro Bridge set

Dal Negro Bridge set

Dal Negro Bridge set featuring old Vienna pattern courts.

Carte Romane

Carte Romane

“Carte Romane” designed by Giorgio Pessione, 1973, celebrating the history of Rome.

Sarde Pattern

Sarde Pattern

Sarde pattern published by Modiano, c.1975, based on early XIX century Spanish model.

Triestine Pattern

Triestine Pattern

The Triestine pattern is derived from the Venetian (Trevisane) pattern but with its own characteristics.

Trentine Pattern

Trentine Pattern

Trentine Pattern

Primiera Bolognese

Primiera Bolognese

Primiera Bolognese by Modiano, c.1975

Bergamasche Pattern

Bergamasche Pattern

Bergamasche Pattern by Modiano, 1970s.

Jonas Fouquet Navarra Pattern

Jonas Fouquet Navarra Pattern

Navarra Pattern by Jonas Fouquet, c.1720 and c.1820.

Navarra Pattern, 1682

Navarra Pattern, 1682

Navarra pattern produced for the Pamplona General Hospital Monopoly in 1682.

Hermanos Solesi

Hermanos Solesi

“Money Bag” pattern by Hermanos Solesi, late 18th c.

Dvouhlavé Hrací Karty

Dvouhlavé Hrací Karty

“Dvouhlavé Hrací Karty” (Czech Seasons playing cards) made by Obchodní Tiskárny, c.1980.

AGMüller English Pattern

AGMüller English Pattern

AGMüller standard English pattern for the Royal Jordanian Airline, 1980s

Georg Kapfler

Georg Kapfler

Antique deck of old Bohemian playing cards of the German type manufactured by Georg Kapfler and dated 1611.

Genovesi Pattern

Genovesi Pattern

Genoese pattern from Italy.

Modern Swiss-German Pattern

Modern Swiss-German Pattern

Modern Swiss-German Pattern by AGMüller, c.2000.

Skat Express

Skat Express

One end Berlin pattern the other standard English pattern

Popular No.257

Popular No.257

Piatnik’s “Popular Playing Cards” No.257

Salzburger Pattern

Salzburger Pattern

Salzburger pattern by Ferd. Piatnik & Söhne, Vienna

Woolley & Co: “Second Harrys”

Woolley & Co: “Second Harrys”

Woolley & Co produced a range of different quality playing cards, and these “Second Harrys” are towards the cheaper end of the range.

Brepols Genoese pattern

Brepols Genoese pattern

“Cartes Françaises” and Genoese pattern by Brepols.

Dutch Pattern for Van Perlstein

Dutch Pattern for Van Perlstein

Brepols Dutch Pattern for Van Perlstein distillery, c.1960.

Woolley & Co: “Eurekas”

Woolley & Co: “Eurekas”

Woolley & Co: “Eureka” playing cards with rounded corners, small index pips and decorative back design, c.1880-1885.

Rhineland Pattern by KZWP

Rhineland Pattern by KZWP

Rhineland pattern by KZWP.

North German pattern

North German pattern

The North German pattern appeared in the mid-19th century, derived from the French ‘Paris’ pattern,

Bavarian Pattern

Bavarian Pattern

Bavarian single-ended pattern by Vereinigte Altenburg-Stralsunder Spielkarten-Fabriken A-G., c.1937

Portuguese pattern

Portuguese pattern

19th century Portuguese pattern, re-printed from original woodblocks.

Old Bavarian pattern

Old Bavarian pattern

Uncut sheet of playing cards of the Old Bavarian pattern by Michael Schatzberger, Passau, 1780

Monic

Monic

‘Monic’ brand playing cards, c.1930s

German Saxon Pattern

German Saxon Pattern

The German Saxon Pattern or “Schwerdter Karte”.

Bohemian Pattern

Bohemian Pattern

The Bohemian Pattern, sometimes called the Prager Pattern, has roots in the 16th century.

Provence Pattern

Provence Pattern

The 'Provence' pattern contains figures which go back to the fifteenth century.

28: How to Analyze and Differentiate Playing Card Plates (De La Rue, Waddington and the Berlin pattern [französisches Bild])

28: How to Analyze and Differentiate Playing Card Plates (De La Rue, Waddington and the Berlin pattern [französisches Bild])

My interest in postage stamp variants led me to apply the same principles to playing cards.

27: Cards at Strangers’ Hall, Norwich

27: Cards at Strangers’ Hall, Norwich

There is a very interesting collection of playing cards held at the Strangers' Hall Museum in Norwich.

L. P. Holmblad c.1840

L. P. Holmblad c.1840

L. P. Holmblad's house pattern used from c.1840. The K♠ carries a harp as in the traditional French-type cards; but the J♠ is sleeping with his arms folded and his shield resting behind him.