Armand Gustave Houbigant (1789-1862) created a new set of playing cards in c.1816 based on realistic historical characters, intending to relieve players from the boring official “portraits” of the time. The court cards represent the dynasties of Charlemagne, Saint Louis, Francis I and Henry IV. Several versions of Houbigant’s cards were produced in varying degrees of quality, including an edition to commemorate the wedding of the Duke of Berry in 1820. These in turn inspired further imitations and a new genre of playing cards featuring historical costumes.
A modern facsimile edition based on original prints was published by J-M Simon titled “Dames de France” with the addition of four corner indices, a joker and a decorative back design. See the Explanatory Card►
Houbigant's designs were also copied by other manufacturers, as seen in the children's miniature set shown below, from c.1821. Another more recent facsimile was published by Heraclio Fournier S.A.
Member since March 02, 2012View Articles
I have adored playing cards since before I was seven years old, and was brought up on packs of Waddington's No 1. As a child I was fascinated by the pictures of the court cards.
Over the next fifty years I was seduced by the artwork in Piatnik's packs and became a collector of playing cards.
Seeking more information about various unidentified packs I discovered the World of Playing Cards website and became an enthusiastic contributor researching and documenting different packs of cards.
I describe my self as a playing card archaeologist, using detective work to identify and date obscure packs of cards discovered in old houses, flea markets and car boot sales.
“Royal Cards Reign of Queen Anne” cover historical events, both honourable and treacherous, during the period 1702 to 1704.
The first of two decks designed by Ukrainian illustrator Vladislav Erko for “Korchma Taras Bulba” restaurant which serves traditional Ukrainian cuisine
This deck is named after Armand Jean du Plessis de Richelieu, Cardinal-Duc de Richelieu (1585-1642), a French Roman Catholic Clergyman and statesman, Chief Adviser to King Louis XIII, noted for the authoritarian measures he employed to maintain power.
Schweizer Trachten No.174 (Costumes Suisses) by Dondorf.
In standard English packs the Ace of Spades is associated with decorative designs. This is a historical survey of why this should be.
In this newsletter we’re looking at how fashion and costume is represented through playing card art since the 14th century through to today.
Dubois card makers from Liège in the Walloon Region of Belgium.
PLAYING CARDS: A Secret History
This deck was inherited from ancestors, it has has a family history surrounding it. Details of the lives of previous owners make it all so fascinating.
Folk Cards designed by Krystyna Gruchalska-Bunsch for Lot Polish Airlines, 1962.
Video by Art of Impossible. In this video you will get a short overview of the most important historical facts about playing cards and their history.
‘History of fashion’ cultural quartet game designed by Erika Werner-Nestler, 1954.
Dutch costumes quartet game designed by Gerard Huijg, 1983.
Österreichisches Trachten-quartett Nr.282 published by Ferd Piatnik & Söhne.
La Sibylle des Salons facsimile of 19th century deck published by J M Simon, 1979.
Archaic Spanish-suited deck with 48 cards made in Toledo in 1584.
Facsimile of Swiss William Tell deck from c.1870 published by Lo Scarabeo.
Gambling and Vice in the Hours of Charles V: card-playing in the local tavern
A facsimile of an early 19th century French-suited deck from the collection of F.X. Schmid.
Le Jeu du Destin Antique, originally published by Grimaud in XIX c., republished many times since...
Chinese Costumes from the Winterthur Collection, published by Fournier, 1984.
Caleb Bartlett patriotic deck (reproduction), around 1835-40.
Reproduction of Richard Blome’s Heraldic playing cards, 1684, presented to lady guests at WCMPC Summer Meeting in 1888.
Facsimile of ‘Wilhelm Tell’ Hungarian deck by Salamon Antal, Keczkemét, 1860.
Facsimile of “Le Jeu de la Guerre” designed by Gilles de la Boissière in 1698.
Spear’s “Fancy Dress Ball” card game with children dressed in period costumes, 1930s.
Corner Indices were a major innovation in playing card production.
Baraja Carlos IV, Félix Solesio en la Real Fábrica de Macharaviaya, 1800.
Bathing Beauties throughout the ages, published in Hungary, 1967.
“Renaissance” playing card designs by A I Charlemagne, 1862.
Matching game by Majora, Lisbon, c.1970, featuring figures in national dress from Portuguese provinces and colonies
A presentation of the main characteristics of the wood-block courts of the heart suit.
This is a presentation in a more straightforward fashion of the work done by Paul Bostock and me in our book of the same name.
A Motley Pack - transformation playing cards & ‘On The Cards’ book facsimile published by Sunish Chabba, 2019.
Some further material relating to cards from nineteenth and twentieth century periodicals.
Facsimile of patriotic 1878 Tyrolean playing cards published by Piatnik in 1992.
Here are a few early advertisements relating to cards from newspapers 1684-1759 and a number of later 19th century documents of interest.
Hand-made playing cards by French prisoners of war in Porchester Castle, Hampshire, c.1796.
A continuation of the development of the off-spring of the Paris patterns and a few examples of how the French regional figures have inspired modern designers.
A great many regional patterns were exported from France and subsequently copied elsewhere. Some of them became local standards in their own right.