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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.

Jeu D’Aluettes - Boéchat Frères c.1950

Jeu D’Aluettes manufactured by Boéchat Frères, Bordeaux, c.1950 with archaic Spanish features mixed with the standard Catalan pattern

Aluette pack manufactured by Boéchat Frères, Bordeaux, c.1950. Aluette cards tend to have features found on archaic Spanish cards, and these cards are a sort of hybrid between standard 19th/20th century Aluette and the relatively modern Spanish Catalan pattern. The characteristic, slightly mischievous additions, or embellishments, to the lower numeral cards and mounted cavalières (female, no.11) are in the style of French Aluette cards, but the sotas (male jacks, no.10), kings (no.12), the Spanish suit symbol designs and anchor-caducceus motif on the four of coins are in the style of the standard Spanish Catalan pattern. The box describes the cards as: “Jeu D’Aluettes Vernies Nº 46”.

Jeu D’Aluettes - Boéchat Frères c.1950 Jeu D’Aluettes - Boéchat Frères c.1950 Jeu D’Aluettes - Boéchat Frères c.1950 Jeu D’Aluettes - Boéchat Frères c.1950

Above: Jeu D’Aluettes manufactured by Boéchat Frères, Bordeaux, c.1950. 48 varnished cards in cardboard box. The maker’s initials I.B.F. Bordeaux can be seen on the ace of coins.

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By Simon Wintle

Member since February 01, 1996

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

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