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Archaic and Obsolete Playing Card Patterns

Archaic and Obsolete Playing Card Patterns

Playing cards have a rich and fascinating history, with a wide variety of patterns and designs having been used throughout the centuries. A lot of these early patterns have fallen out of use and are now considered archaic or obsolete. Often only one example is known.

These old, historic patterns are sometimes discovered as stiffener inside old book bindings when these are repaired, or under floorboards in old buildings during restoration. They are sometimes discovered in ancient rubbish tips. They are of great interest to collectors, historians, and enthusiasts alike.

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16th Century French Playing Cards based on Illustrations by Gurney Benham 2006

16th Century French Playing Cards based on Illustrations by Gurney Benham

This pack of cards by Rose & Pentagram is said to be based off Pierre Marechal, Rouen pack from the 1600s, but they are actually copies of drawings by Gurney Benham from his book Playing Cards: Their History and Secrets from 1930.

61: French regional patterns: the kings

61: French regional patterns: the kings

On page 11 I illustrated several examples of the regional French patterns from Sylvia Mann's collection; this is a more in-depth look at the figures of these patterns ("portraits" in French).

62: French regional patterns: the queens and jacks

62: French regional patterns: the queens and jacks

Continuing our look at the figures from the regional patterns of France.

A Moorish Sheet of Playing Cards 1987

A Moorish Sheet of Playing Cards

This article was originally published in “The Playing-Card”, the Journal of the International Playing-Card Society (London), Volume XV, No.4, May 1987.

Anonymous Spanish Suited pack, c.1760 1760

Anonymous Spanish Suited pack, c.1760

Anonymous archaic Spanish suited pack, c.1760.

Antique Swiss Playing Cards, c.1530 1530

Antique Swiss Playing Cards, c.1530

The Swiss national suit system of shields, acorns, hawkbells and flowers originated sometime during the fifteenth century.

Antoine de Logiriera

Antoine de Logiriera

Archaic Spanish-suited playing cards published in Toulouse by Antoine de Logiriera (1495-1518).

Auvergne Pattern 1690

Auvergne Pattern

The Auvergne pattern is one of the oldest in France.

Baraja Morisca — Early XV century playing cards 1420

Baraja Morisca — Early XV century playing cards

Primitive Latin suited pack, dated by paper analysis as early XV century, which makes this one of the earliest known surviving packs of playing cards.

Dauphiné Pattern

Dauphiné Pattern

The Dauphiné pattern is an archaic French pattern which was manufactured in the Lyons region from the 17th century.

Early Anglo-French Cards

Early Anglo-French Cards

Cards produced in Rouen during the sixteenth century. It was cards like these which were imported to England and are the ancestors of the modern 'Anglo-American' pattern.

Early German playing cards 1450

Early German playing cards

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

Early Spanish/Portuguese type

Early Spanish/Portuguese type

Fragment of a sheet of archaic Spanish-suited 'Dragon' playing cards found during restoration of a house in Antwerp built between 1559 and 1574

Francisco Flores 1580

Francisco Flores

Playing cards in this style have been discovered in various parts of the world, suggesting that they were exported or carried there by early explorers or merchants.

French Playing Cards

French Playing Cards

Some of the oldest cards still in existence come from France. During the 16th and 17th centuries France was the major supplier of playing cards in Europe.

Georg Kapfler 1611

Georg Kapfler

Antique deck of old Bohemian playing cards of the German type manufactured by Georg Kapfler and dated 1611.

Gothic Spanish-suited cards 1515

Gothic Spanish-suited cards

These cards may be a typical example of early 'standard' Spanish playing cards, maybe from before Columbus sailed for the 'New World' which were imitated by German engravers who wished to export their wares back to Spain.

Hand-made Spanish Suited Playing Cards

Hand-made Spanish Suited Playing Cards

Decks are made on two-ply pasteboard which reproduces the tactile quality of antique cards.

Hewson 1650

Hewson

Antique English woodblock playing cards by a card maker named C. Hewson, mid-17th century.

Infirrera 1693

Infirrera

Italo-Portuguese-suited cards by Andrea Infirrera with the arms of Malta, 1693.