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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.

11: Some Cards From Sylvia Mann’s Collection

A fascinating collection that was the basis of a lot of research that we still benefit from today.

Sylvia Mann had a very interesting and wide-ranging collection of cards, both standard of all types and non-standard. Although the standards are dealt with in detail in her book All cards on the table (1990), it would have been impossible to illustrate them all and many of those that are included are in black and white. When I first met her in the very early 1970s, she was kind enough to let me make slides of quite a number of the standard patterns. These slides were originally held by the School of Fine Arts and Music at the University of East Anglia, but are now in my care, as I was the only person to use them on a regular basis for lectures on cards. So I thought it would be a good idea to put some of the cards on my blog for others to enjoy. Since they are electronic versions of the old slides, the quality is not very good, but I hope good enough to give an idea of the lovely items in Sylvia's collection.

Auvergne pattern, c.1750

A 19th century Swiss version of the first Paris pattern.

A Belgian version of the first Paris pattern, unnamed, c.1920

A version of the first Rouen pattern by Brepols, unnamed, all courts except JH & QC turned, c.1900

First Rouen pattern by Bouvier.

Burgundian pattern, c.1750

8 courts of the Dauphiné pattern from the Revolutionary period, c.1790

Gebrüder Suhr, Hamburg, North German version of the first Paris pattern, c.1820

An anonymous North German version of the Paris pattern, c.1830

And another one of about the same date

Languedoc pattern, c.1750

The second version of the Lyonnais pattern, c.1600 or earlier.

The last version of the Lyons pattern, c.1770

Provence pattern, c.1770

P.O. Runge's designs (two versions) based on the North German version of the first Paris pattern, 1809 & 1810

An anonymous copy of the old Paris pattern from Liège, c.1830

Servaes' (Brussels) version of the first Paris pattern.

Swedish version of the first Paris pattern with turned JD and QH, c.1830

Another Swedish version of the same pattern with most of the courts turned, 1815

Another 19th century Scandinavian copy of the Paris pattern


A Swiss version of the second Lyons pattern, c.1850

Another Swiss version.

She also had many wood-block standard English packs, some of which I'll add here.

McEvoy, c.1765

Turnbull, c.1835

She even had an example of one Harding's packs (the forger): whether the AS is genuine or forged is difficult to tell. [Sadly, the AS was subsequently stolen from an exhibition of her cards.]

Harding, c.1801

5441 Goodall, c.1865-70

5443 Willis, c.1875

5442 Perry, c.1865-8

German, 1930s, with German and Austrian stamps

Belgian, 1930s

Russian, 1930s

Japanese, early dragon aces

And finally, a Swiss costume pack by Wüst, c.1860; the detail on many of these is exceptional, so below is an extract from the AH.

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By Ken Lodge

Member since May 14, 2012

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​I'm Ken Lodge and have been collecting playing cards since I was about eighteen months old (1945). I am also a trained academic, so I can observe and analyze reasonably well. I've applied these analytical techniques over a long period of time to the study of playing cards and have managed to assemble a large amount of information about them, especially those of the standard English pattern. Read more...

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