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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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Infirrera 1693


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

J. Deluy  c.1490s 1490

J. Deluy c.1490s

Archaic Spanish-suited cards produced by J. Deluy c.1490s.

Joan Barbot

Joan Barbot

Joan Barbot, San Sebastian c.1765-1810.

Lyon pattern by Michel Ressy 1760

Lyon pattern by Michel Ressy

Lyon pattern by Michel Ressy, c.1760.



The so-called ‘Dragon Cards’, with winged monsters on the four Aces, are an enigmatic aspect of early playing card history.

Mamluk Playing Cards 1495

Mamluk Playing Cards

Nã'ib, the game of lieutenants... these cards are amongst the earliest Arabic playing cards extant.

Master of the Banderoles 1470

Master of the Banderoles

Playing Cards by the Master of the Banderoles, one of the earliest professional printmakers, c.1470.

Master of the Playing Cards 1455

Master of the Playing Cards

Animal suited playing cards engraved by the Master of the Playing Cards, Germany, c.1455

Moorish Deck 2023

Moorish Deck

Review of “Trzes’ Moorish Deck” facsimile published by Ulrich Kaltenborn, Berlin, 2023.

Moorish playing cards 1420

Moorish playing cards

These two uncoloured, uncut sheets of early Moorish playing cards were formerly preserved in the Instituto Municipal de Historia in Barcelona.

Naipes ‘La Criolla’ by Anabella Corsi 2009

Naipes ‘La Criolla’ by Anabella Corsi

Inspired by an archaic Spanish pattern formerly used in Spain during the 16th and 17th centuries.

Navarra Pattern

Navarra Pattern

Navarra Pattern produced for the Pamplona General Hospital Monopoly.

Navarra Pattern, 1682 1682

Navarra Pattern, 1682

Navarra pattern produced for the Pamplona General Hospital Monopoly in 1682.

Phelippe Ayet, 1574 1574

Phelippe Ayet, 1574

49 assorted cards were found hidden in the lintel of a doorway, in an old building in Toledo, during demolition, and are now preserved in the the Museo de Santa Cruz de Toledo.

Phelippe Ayet, c.1574 1574

Phelippe Ayet, c.1574

Archaic, late medieval Spanish-suited playing cards printed by Phelippe Ayet, c.1574.

Pierre Roiné Aluette 1785

Pierre Roiné Aluette

Archaic form of Aluette published by Pierre Roiné, Nantes, c.1785.

Portuguese cards for Brazil 1890

Portuguese cards for Brazil

Portuguese-type cards made in or for Brazil, c.1890.

Portuguese pattern

Portuguese pattern

19th century Portuguese pattern, re-printed from original woodblocks.

Portuguese-suited cards 1613

Portuguese-suited cards

Portuguese-suited cards with dragon aces, made in Italy, 1613.

Provence Pattern

Provence Pattern

The 'Provence' pattern contains figures which go back to the fifteenth century.