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Published March 16, 2023 Updated March 16, 2023

Les Grands Ecrivains

‘Les Grands Ecrivains’ produced for members of “Le Grand Livre du Mois”, France, c. 1970.

1970 France Brepols Cartamundi J.P. Djivanides Literature Add to Collection

This pack was produced by Brepols and Carta Mundi exclusively for members of “Le Grand Livre du Mois”. This is a French book club created in 1950 in its initial version by Claude Tchou , who ran it until 1958, under the title "Club du livre du mois". The current formula under the name Le Grand Livre du Mois has existed since 1977. It is the only French literary news club offering 700 new titles each year, as soon as they appear in bookstores.

The aces feature residences formerly occupied by La Fontaine (clubs), Victor Hugo (hearts), Voltaire (spades) and Balzac (diamonds). The court cards depict 12 major French novelists, illustrated by J.P. Djivanides. There are 2 jokers and two additional cards: a bridge scoring card and a card announcing the pack referencing both Brepols Paris and Carta Mundi, which suggests the cards were made c.1970 at or about the time Carta Mundi was formed as a joint venture of Biermans, Brepols and Van Genechten.

‘Les Grands Ecrivains’ produced for members of “Le Grand Livre du Mois”, France, c. 1970 ‘Les Grands Ecrivains’ produced for members of “Le Grand Livre du Mois”, France, c. 1970 ‘Les Grands Ecrivains’ produced for members of “Le Grand Livre du Mois”, France, c. 1970

Above: ‘Les Grands Ecrivains’ produced for members of “Le Grand Livre du Mois”, France, c. 1970.

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By Peter Burnett

Member since July 27, 2022

I graduated in Russian and East European Studies from Birmingham University in 1969. It was as an undergraduate in Moscow in 1968 that I stumbled upon my first 3 packs of “unusual” playing cards which fired my curiosity and thence my life-long interest. I began researching and collecting cards in the early 1970s, since when I’ve acquired over 3,330 packs of non-standard cards, mainly from North America, UK and Western Europe, and of course from Russia and the former communist countries.

Russian Playing Cards

Following my retirement from the Bodleian Library in Dec. 2007 I took up a new role as Head of Library Development at the International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications (INASP) to support library development in low-income countries. This work necessitated regular training visits to many sub-Saharan African countries and also further afield, to Vietnam, Nepal and Bangladesh – all of which provided rich opportunities to further expand my playing card collection.

Since 2019 I’ve been working part-time in the Bodleian Library where I’ve been cataloguing the bequest of the late Donald Welsh, founder of the English Playing Card Society.


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