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On April 1, 1741, ‘Great Mogul’ was registered as a trademark by the affluent card-maker, Christopher Blanchard. This brand was modelled after the imperial title given to the Delhi Sultanate and rapidly acquired a reputation for being a symbol of exceptional quality.

Great Mogul 533 Playing Cards manufactured by USPCC

Above: Great Mogul branded playing cards produced by USPCC for the Thai market, c1965.

Great Mogul artwork detail, circa early 1900s

Mogul playing cards were produced by various companies in different countries, including Willis, Goodall, Dougherty, Reynolds, Biermans, Continental Card Co, Hall and Son, Modiano and John Müller. They came in various qualities such as Court Moguls, Moguls, Oriental Moguls, Double Moguls, Floral Moguls and Great Moguls. These businesses expanded their connections worldwide, and during the early 1900s it's documented that around 19,000 dozen (228,000) packs of Mogul cards were exported to India.

However, in 1742, Thomas Hill was accused of illicitly using the Great Mogul brand by the Worshipful Company of Card Makers. Thomas Hill, who did not belong to the organisation, declined to attend the hearing, and the company eventually realised that it did not possess the legal power to protect registered marks. This event marked a decline in the power of the Worshipful Company and by the end of the 18th century, any card-maker could employ any brand they desired.

Turnhout makers such as Biermans based in Belgium, also produced Great Mogul cards and maintained a thriving export trade to the East, particularly India and many countries in Southeast Asia such as Thailand and Malaysia.

USPCC still produces a Great Mogul pack today, which has been described as "Bee seconds". These are cards from the print run that have imperfections and have been rejected, then repackaged as a Great Mogul pack. Sometimes they still have the standard Bee back design, Aces and Jokers.

In recent times, the Great Mogul brand has been adopted by independent card makers such as Karl Gerich, who have sought to add a historical dimension to their cards. The Great Mogul brand, with its rich heritage has been utilised by these makers to imbue their playing cards with a sense of the exotic.

Hardy Great Mogul Wrapper

Above: Hardy Great Mogul wrapper circa 1830. Image courtesy of Roddy Somerville.


A selection of Mogul branded playing cards dated from 1778 through to today.

Above: A selection of Mogul branded playing cards dated from 1778 through to today.


References

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By Adam Wintle

Member since March 15, 1997

Adam has been involved in developing the site as well as reviewing new decks and conducting research. He is particularly interested in innovation, Kickstarter and East Asian cards. He is a member of the IPCS and webmaster of the EPCS.


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