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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.

Cartes Imperiales et Royales

‘Cartes Imperiales et Royales’ published by B. P. Grimaud & Cie representing imperial rulers and consorts from Austria, England, France & Russia, mid-19th century

Cartes Imperiales et Royales were first published by B. P. Grimaud & Cie with full-length court figures representing imperial rulers and consorts from Austria, England, France & Russia an the mid-19th century. The four kings are the Prince Consort of England, the Emperor Napoleon III, the Emperor of Austria and the Tsar of Russia. The queens are Queen Victoria, the Empress Eugenie, the Empress of Austria and the Tsarina. The knaves are a jockey, a royal huntsman, an imperial groom and a royal serf. The four aces carry the arms of England, the imperial arms of France and the arms of Austria and Russia. A shield of pretence at the centre of each armorial bearing carries the suit symbol (click to zoom).

The four aces carry the arms of England, the imperial arms of France and the arms of Austria and Russia ‘Cartes Imperiales et Royales’ published by B. P. Grimaud & Cie representing imperial rulers and consorts from Austria, England, France & Russia, mid-19th century

Above: ‘Cartes Imperiales et Royales’ first published by B. P. Grimaud & Cie, 70 Rue de Bondy, Paris, representing imperial rulers and consorts from Austria, England, France & Russia, mid-19th century. Hand coloured etchings. Lettering on the knave of clubs reads "B.P. Grimaud et Cie. Paris France", and on the ace of clubs is "Imp. F. Chardon ainè r. Hautefeuille, 30, Paris". The backs are coloured blue. Images of a later edition with rounded corners, c.1890, courtesy Rod Starling.

REFERENCES

Willshire, W. H.: A Descriptive Catalogue of Playing and Other Cards in the British Museum, Trustees of the British Museum, 1876

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By Rod Starling

Member since January 09, 2013

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Rod Starling is one of the founding members of the 52 Plus Joker card collectors club. He has written many articles for the club's quarterly newsletter, Clear the Decks. His collection still encompasses both foreign and American decks. Rod has also authored a book titled The Art and Pleasures of Playing Cards.

Also by Rod Starling

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