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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.

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Paris Pattern

13 Articles

The Paris pattern was established as such around the middle of the seventeenth century (based, perhaps, on the cards of Hector of Troyes).

Paris pattern

The Paris pattern was established as such around the middle of the seventeenth century (based, perhaps, on the cards of Hector of Troyes).

Paris pattern

Dubois

Dubois card makers from Liège in the Walloon Region of Belgium.

Dubois

“Deck with French suits”

A facsimile of an early 19th century French-suited deck from the collection of F.X. Schmid.

“Deck with French suits”

Monic

‘Monic’ brand playing cards, c.1930s

Monic

P. Steinmann

Single-figure provincial Paris pattern cards with traditional names on the courts manufactured in Copenhagen by P. Steinmann, c.1820.

P. Steinmann

Jacob Holmblad c.1820

Standard woodblock and stencil deck produced by Jacob Holmblad with double-ended court cards in the tradition of the French ‘Paris’ pattern. The A♥ features a red over-stamp referring to Jacob Holmblad's royal license to print playing-cards which had been granted in 1820.

Jacob Holmblad c.1820

Forster

Deck made by Johann Jobst Forster, Nürnberg, first half of 18th century in the Paris pattern.

Forster

Backofen

Deck manufactured by Johann Matheus Backofen, Nürnberg c.1800.

Backofen

Paris pattern

The Paris pattern was established as such around the middle of the seventeenth century (based, perhaps, on the cards of Hector of Troyes).

Paris pattern

French Playing Cards

Some of the oldest cards still in existence come from France.

French Playing Cards

Swiss French Suited Playing Cards, c.1840

French-suited playing-cards in the Paris pattern appeared in Switzerland around the end of the sixteenth century, when many Lyonnais cardmakers were driven away by heavy taxes.

Swiss French Suited Playing Cards, c.1840

Müller (Diessenhofen), c.1840-50.

Playing Cards made by J. Müller, Diessenhofen, c.1840-50 with court cards coloured differently at each end.

Müller (Diessenhofen), c.1840-50.

Swiss Piquet Playing Cards, c.1850-60

Piquet playing-cards made by J. Müller, Diessenhofen, c.1850-60. The full-length court cards are following the French style.

Swiss Piquet Playing Cards, c.1850-60