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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.

Silk Inlaid Playing Cards for Charles I

Silk Inlaid Playing Cards for Charles I

Silk Inlaid Playing Cards for Charles I

Said to have been made in 1628 for England's Charles I, this pack is illustrated in the book:

"Age of Kings"
Charles Blitzer
TIME-LIFE International, ©1968

[See pages 19-29.]

In the picture credits (p.186), they are described as:

"Playing cards made for King Charles I, by the Worshipful Company of Makers of Playing Cards, inlaid silk, ca. 1628, courtesy Katharina Gregory, New York (Robert S. Crandall)."

A total of 28 cards are illustrated in the book from what looks like a 52 card pack. The numerals 2-5 have serpents climbing up the tree stem, and all the pip cards are decorated with common flowers of the meadows and fields. Attempts are made in the book to relate the court cards to known personalities.


By Simon Wintle

Member since February 01, 1996

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Curator and editor of the World of Playing Cards since 1996.