The World of Playing Cards Logo
Published December 16, 2013 Updated July 04, 2023

Bohemian Pattern

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

1970 Czechoslovakia Obchodní Tiskárny Piatnik History Bavarian Pattern Bohemian or Prager Pattern Patterns and Suit Types Add to Collection

The Bohemian pattern has roots in the 16th century

These images recall some 16th century German cards by Heinrich Hauk and others and which are also related to the Bavarian and Franconian patterns. These patterns are shared in neighbouring countries, in Austria as the Salzburger pattern and in Czechoslovakia it has become known as the Bohemian pattern. They are descended from the oldest of German-suited packs. As playing card designs were copied from workshop to workshop, characteristics from archaic models still survive today in cards such as these which have become standard patterns. The Knaves are divided into military categories and hold long spears, or halberds, swords and musical instruments. The Kings are seated and each has two suitmarks. The numeral cards have little vignettes at the bottom with animals or rural scenes.

Bohemian or Prager pattern, Obchodní Tiskárny, Czechoslovakia,  c.1970

Above: cards from Bohemian or Prager pattern, 32 cards, manufactured by Obchodní Tiskárny, Prague, Czechoslovakia, c.1970. Some of the features in this pattern originate in much earlier German cards in the 16th century. The Pegasus motif on the reverse and on the eight of bells was inherited from Ritter & Cie, Prague.  Click the image to see the box

Cards from the area which was formerly the Austro-Hungarian Empire are immensely varied. Some of them have special regional differences and are named accordingly. Just as regional dialects are spoken within different areas, similarly, regional styles of playing cards follow the fashion for certain games, ethnic groups or social classes. The Bohemian pattern, also known as the Prager pattern, shares similarities with other old German-suited patterns, such as the Bavarian and Franconian, and preserves details which have survived from the earliest days of German cardmaking, such as soldiers holding weapons and animal or burlesque vignettes on the numeral cards.

German-suited packs have tended to remove the lower numeral cards, apart from the Deuces (Twos), to reduce the number of cards from 52 to 36 or 32 cards. This is a northern custom, whereas in areas using Spanish or Italian suit systems, it is more customary to drop the 8 & 9s and to have 10, 11 & 12 as the three courts, making 40 card decks.

See also:  Czech NationalisticCzech 'Hussite' pack1908 Prague Jubilee Exhibition'Jugendstil' designed by Artuš Scheiner, 1920Ritter & Cie "Art Deco", 1933Eagle Playing Card Co., Ltd.


Piatnik Prager Bild

Above: the 'Prager' or 'Bohemian' pattern manufactured by Ferd Piatnik & Synové, Vienna, c.1995.

avatar
1440 Articles

By Simon Wintle

Member since February 01, 1996

Founder and editor of the World of Playing Cards since 1996. He is a former committee member of the IPCS and was graphics editor of The Playing-Card journal for many years. He has lived at various times in Chile, England and Wales and is currently living in Extremadura, Spain. Simon's first limited edition pack of playing cards was a replica of a seventeenth century traditional English pack, which he produced from woodblocks and stencils.


Related Articles

Woodblock and Stencil Joker

Woodblock and Stencil Joker

A limited edition art print of the 1984 woodblock joker.

Woodblock and Stencil Jack of Hearts

Woodblock and Stencil Jack of Hearts

A limited edition art print of the Jack of Hearts 1984 woodblock joker.

Woodblock and Stencil King of Diamonds

Woodblock and Stencil King of Diamonds

A limited edition art print of the King of Diamonds 1984 woodblock joker.

Woodblock and Stencil Queen of Clubs

Woodblock and Stencil Queen of Clubs

A limited edition art print of the Queen of Clubs 1984 woodblock joker.

2021 Le Monde Primitif Tarot

Le Monde Primitif Tarot

Facsimile edition produced by Morena Poltronieri & Ernesto Fazioli of Museo Internazionale dei Taroc...

2018 Marmite

Marmite

Fifty-Four images celebrating a UK savoury spread, that has been around one hundred and twenty two y...

2021 Film Noir

Film Noir

A deck of 55 cards, celebrating hard boiled heroes, wise-cracking women, mean streets, guns and gums...

2016 Science Fiction

Science Fiction

A deck of 55 cards, celebrating a time when Science Fiction truly was, Science Fiction.

1972 Feh Schnapskarten

Feh Schnapskarten

Colourful promotional pack for Feh household and toilet papers.

2010 Pin-Ups

Pin-Ups

A deck of 55 cards celebrating a golden age of cheeky, naughty, bold and curvy ladies in film.

2008 Classic Movie Posters

Classic Movie Posters

A deck of 55 cards presenting vintage classic movies and their stars.

2014 That’s Entertainment

That’s Entertainment

A deck of 55 cards celebrating 20th Century vaudeville, musicals and cabaret.

2000 Sweden playing cards

Sweden playing cards

Named characters from Swedish history.

2000 Romania playing cards

Romania playing cards

Romanian voivodes and their wives from the 15th and 16th centuries.

1965 ČZ playing cards

ČZ playing cards

Advertising pack for the Czechoslovak motorcycle factory Česká Zbrojovka.

2021 Hitchcock

Hitchcock

A deck of 55 cards celebrating the master of mystery, murder and mayhem, Alfred Hitchcock.

1810 Miniature playing cards by Joseph Fetscher

Miniature playing cards by Joseph Fetscher

Uncut sheet of miniature Bavarian playing cards by Joseph Fetscher.

1830 Bavaria pattern

Bavaria pattern

Classic German-suited Bavarian pattern by Joseph Fetscher, Munich, early 19th century.

2009 Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End

Pack featuring six images from the Disney film of the same name, on cards made for Eastern Europe.

75: Early American cards

75: Early American cards

An overview of some of the early cards made in the United States.

2009 Winnie the Pooh Rummy

Winnie the Pooh Rummy

Disney’s Winnie the Pooh and friends on a pack made for Eastern Europe.

2020 The Pack of Positivity

The Pack of Positivity

Katie Abey’s rainbow-coloured designs using crazy animals to convey motivating phrases.

2009 The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian

Characters and scenes from the Disney film of the same name, on a pack made for Eastern Europe.

2009 Disney Princess

Disney Princess

Featuring Disney Princesses and Enchanting Tales in two sizes of pack made for Eastern Europe.

2009 Mickey Mouse Rummy

Mickey Mouse Rummy

Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and other Disney characters on a pack made for Eastern Europe.

1978 Royal Hawaiian playing cards

Royal Hawaiian playing cards

Royal Hawaiian playing cards published by the Royal Hawaiian Playing Card Company, Honolulu.

1999 Shamrock Irish Heritage playing cards

Shamrock Irish Heritage playing cards

A celebration of some of Ireland’s most famous patriots, politicians and poets.

1960 Lenormand Wahrsage-Karten No. 55

Lenormand Wahrsage-Karten No. 55

Conventional Lenormand designs on a pack from Piatnik but with unconventional numbering.

1450 Early German playing cards

Early German playing cards

Some early examples of popular German playing cards from the XV and XVI centuries.

1985 Budweiser Budvar beer

Budweiser Budvar beer

Colourful designs promoting Budweiser Budvar beer from Czechoslovakia.

1650 The Parisian Tarot

The Parisian Tarot

The “Parisian Tarot”, early 1600s, with imagery and design synthesizing several influences.

2005 Budapest souvenir

Budapest souvenir

Colour views of the Hungarian capital, Budapest, on all the courts and Aces.

1996 Salmon Flies

Salmon Flies

Icelandic pack featuring a different salmon fly on every card.

1961 Neiman Marcus playing cards

Neiman Marcus playing cards

Cowboys and American Indians on a pack for Neiman Marcus, the Dallas department store.

Museo del Prado

Museo del Prado

Museo del Prado: Pintores y familias reales / Painters and royal families playing cards.

2004 The Teddy deck

The Teddy deck

The Teddy deck designed by UK artist Peter Wood, 2004.

2000 CCCP playing cards

CCCP playing cards

Soviet and other Communist celebrities depicted on every card, designed by Vladislav Pankevitch.

1988 ZPA Trutnov

ZPA Trutnov

Publicity pack for a Czech company making mains receivers and electrical control units.

1988 Jan Becher playing cards

Jan Becher playing cards

Publicity pack for Jan Becher, a Czech liqueur company, with modified international courts.

2005 1906 Earthquake

1906 Earthquake

Facts, figures, stories and scandals about the 1906 Earthquake published by the Golden Gate National...

1997 Bohemia Moravia

Bohemia Moravia

Historical figures from Bohemia and Moravia in Piatnik’s traditional style.

1989 Nordbräu Ingolstadt

Nordbräu Ingolstadt

Publicity pack for the German brewery Nordbräu with Bavarian pattern courts (adapted).

1998 Golden Boys

Golden Boys

Players from the 1998 Czech Olympic ice hockey team with photography by Jiří Koliš.

1978 Rika playing cards

Rika playing cards

Playing cards depicting famous Austrian skiers of the 1970s.