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Published December 04, 2023 Updated December 04, 2023

Les métiers et leurs protecteurs

“Les métiers et leurs protecteurs” playing cards published by Editions Dusserre, c. 1995.

1995 France Dusserre Trades & Professions Add to Collection

While it is commonly known that countries or nations may regard a particular saint as their “heavenly advocate” (e.g. England - Saint George; Wales - Saint David; Czech Republic - Saint Wenceslas), perhaps less well-known is the fact that many professions, crafts and activities also have a patron-saint or patroness saint as their heavenly protector.

This pack, published by Editions Dusserre, c. 1995 displays photographs, paintings or polychrome wood sculptures of saints on 48 of the 54 cards. The deuces and the two jokers list over 170 different trades or professions with the name (or names) of their patron saint(s). Several have more than one protector, depending on their town or region. So, Saint Balthazar is the patron saint of card players and manufacturers, Saint Jean Porte Latine of printers and booksellers. Clockmakers, florists, bankers, umbrella manufacturers, firefighters, tanners, wine merchants, clockmakers, and many others are listed. See the box

“Les métiers et leurs protecteurs” playing cards published by Editions Dusserre, c. 1995 “Les métiers et leurs protecteurs” playing cards published by Editions Dusserre, c. 1995 “Les métiers et leurs protecteurs” playing cards published by Editions Dusserre, c. 1995

Above: “Les métiers et leurs protecteurs” playing cards published by Editions Dusserre, c. 1995.

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By Peter Burnett

Member since July 27, 2022

I graduated in Russian and East European Studies from Birmingham University in 1969. It was as an undergraduate in Moscow in 1968 that I stumbled upon my first 3 packs of “unusual” playing cards which fired my curiosity and thence my life-long interest. I began researching and collecting cards in the early 1970s, since when I’ve acquired over 3,330 packs of non-standard cards, mainly from North America, UK and Western Europe, and of course from Russia and the former communist countries.

Russian Playing Cards

Following my retirement from the Bodleian Library in Dec. 2007 I took up a new role as Head of Library Development at the International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications (INASP) to support library development in low-income countries. This work necessitated regular training visits to many sub-Saharan African countries and also further afield, to Vietnam, Nepal and Bangladesh – all of which provided rich opportunities to further expand my playing card collection.

Since 2019 I’ve been working part-time in the Bodleian Library where I’ve been cataloguing the bequest of the late Donald Welsh, founder of the English Playing Card Society.


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