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Gayant, 1793

French Revolution playing cards published by Gayant in Paris, 1793.

This distinguished pack of French Revolutionary anti-Royalist playing cards, subtitled “Jeu des Philosophes de l’An II”, was first published by the printer Gayant in Paris, 1793. The traditional feudal structure of the pack of playing cards was revised. The soldiers of the Republic have replaced the traditional knaves, allegorical figures of the virtues have replaced the four queens and the four kings are now represented by seated philosophers wearing wreaths instead of crowns.

cards from facsimile edition of “Jeu des Philosophes de l’An II” published by Éditions Dusserre (Boéchat Frères), Paris

Above: cards from historic facsimile edition of “Jeu des Philosophes de l’An II” published by Éditions Dusserre (Boéchat Frères), Paris, c.2000. The four kings are represented by the philosophers Voltaire, La Fontaine, Molière and Rousseau, in keeping with the spirit of the late 18th century in which genius was honoured. Images courtesy Matt Probert.

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By Matt Probert

Member since March 02, 2012

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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.


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