The World of Playing Cards Logo
Published January 27, 2010 Updated July 04, 2023

Paris Pattern

The Paris pattern was established as such around the middle of the seventeenth century (based, perhaps, on the cards of Hector of Troyes).

France History Paris Pattern Patterns and Suit Types Add to Collection
Cards by Richard Bouvier

Above: Alexander, the most famous conqueror of Western history, as the king of clubs. Alexander the Great’s relentless energy and ambition drove him to explore remote parts of the world.

Although many of the figures were already known on earlier cards, the “Paris pattern” consolidated around the middle of the seventeenth century (based, perhaps, on the cards of Hector of Troyes). Single-figure courts prevailed until around 1830 when the double-ended version came into use. The court cards are usually named, and the reason for, or origins of, these names seems to derive from legendary heroes of antiquity. The Paris court card designs also appear in other parts of Europe as provincial variants (e.g. Belgian 'Genoese' pattern, Italian 'Piedmont' pattern). See Ken Lodge's Blog

Above: a number of single cards, from different packs of different ages, demonstrating the Paris pattern, both single and double-ended. Each one is named after a legendary or historical person.

Gatteaux Number

In the middle of the eighteenth century legislation was introduced making the Paris pattern the official portrait or pattern for the whole of northern France.

The outsized medallion held by the Jack of Clubs in his right hand was redesigned by Nicholas Marie Gatteaux, a member of a group of engravers who redesigned and standardised the Paris Pattern in 1813. Within this medallion are The Gatteaux Numbers. This was a time of massive French endeavour to standardise everything French under the “Code Napoleon” and set the pattern in a certain manner to last forever with no rogue variations. Well they certainly succeeded for a long time with the Paris pattern; introduced in 1813, the date on the medallion changed from time to time as follows:

1813–1815

all dated 1813

1816–1827

all dated 1816

1827–1852

all dated 1827

1853–1890s

all dated 1853 from now on.

These rules were dropped in the 1940s (not forever after all!)

Above: cards from full-length version of the Paris pattern, c.1816-1827. Image and notes courtesy Rex Pitts.

In the double-ended versions, although more convenient, many charming features of the designs are lost.

Above: two examples of standard double-ended Paris pattern playing cards, made by B. P. Grimaud, c.1855-75. Both sets are stencil-coloured. The left-hand set is from a 32-card deck and has square corners. The right-hand cards are from a 52-card deck, with rounded corners. There is an imperial eagle watermark on the right-hand cards. See a typical wrapper

Standard French Paris pattern, c.1880

Below: embellished 'Paris pattern' cards specially designed for Lanvin, c.1980


For derivatives of French standard patterns, see

See also:  decks manufactured in Germany by Johann Forster, Johann Backofen, Joseph Losch

avatar
1,440 Articles

By Simon Wintle

Member since February 01, 1996

Founder and editor of the World of Playing Cards since 1996. He is a former committee member of the IPCS and was graphics editor of The Playing-Card journal for many years. He has lived at various times in Chile, England and Wales and is currently living in Extremadura, Spain. Simon's first limited edition pack of playing cards was a replica of a seventeenth century traditional English pack, which he produced from woodblocks and stencils.


Related Articles

Woodblock and Stencil King of Diamonds

Woodblock and Stencil King of Diamonds

A limited edition art print of the King of Diamonds 1984 woodblock joker.

Woodblock and Stencil Joker

Woodblock and Stencil Joker

A limited edition art print of the 1984 woodblock joker.

Woodblock and Stencil Jack of Hearts

Woodblock and Stencil Jack of Hearts

A limited edition art print of the Jack of Hearts 1984 woodblock joker.

Woodblock and Stencil Queen of Clubs

Woodblock and Stencil Queen of Clubs

A limited edition art print of the Queen of Clubs 1984 woodblock joker.

2021 Le Monde Primitif Tarot

Le Monde Primitif Tarot

Facsimile edition produced by Morena Poltronieri & Ernesto Fazioli of Museo Internazionale dei Taroc...

1770 Cartes enfantines

Cartes enfantines

Miniature 18th century Paris pattern cards for children, with decorated aces and 2s.

2013 Les plaques émaillées d’Antoine Vollon

Les plaques émaillées d’Antoine Vollon

54 different enamel plaques depicting silk manufacture, by the Lyon artist Antoine Vollon.

1984 Le Jeu des Musiciens

Le Jeu des Musiciens

Artist Silvia Maddonni’s gently humorous take on musicians and their instruments.

1995 Les Saints Guérisseurs et Protecteurs

Les Saints Guérisseurs et Protecteurs

Healing and patron saints portrayed in paintings, manuscripts, altarpieces and statuary.

2001 Kuzco, l’empereur mégalo

Kuzco, l’empereur mégalo

Notched cards featuring toys representing characters from the Disney film Kuzco, as offered by McDon...

1964 Monuments de Paris

Monuments de Paris

‘Monuments de Paris’ souvenir playing cards produced by Heraclio Fournier, c.1964.

1988 Lorilleux International

Lorilleux International

Promotional pack for Lorilleux International’s Lotus inks, with designs by James Hodges.

2021 Les Tontons du Rock

Les Tontons du Rock

Caricatures of rock and pop stars in black and white by Charles Da Costa.

1745 Burgundy pattern

Burgundy pattern

The old Burgundy (or Burgundian) pattern by Nicolas Chenevet, Dijon.

1980 Zodiaque

Zodiaque

“Les Signes du Zodiaque” playing cards designed by Youdi des Aubrys.

1981 British Monarchs

British Monarchs

Commemorating the royal wedding of Charles, Prince of Wales to Lady Diana Spencer on the 29th

1991 54 Affiches Retro

54 Affiches Retro

54 different old French advertising posters, mainly for travel and health products.

1980 Jeu de la Belle Epoque

Jeu de la Belle Epoque

Jeu de la Belle Epoque, remembering a golden age of optimism, progress and elegance.

1985 Correspondances

Correspondances

‘Correspondances’ depicting the 52 transfer stations of the Paris Métropolitain, France, 1985.

1987 Jeu Gothique

Jeu Gothique

‘Jeu Gothique’ illustrating the Gothic period in France, published by Editions Dusserre.

1978 Jeu Bonaparte

Jeu Bonaparte

Jeu Bonaparte depicting the extended family of Napoleon Bonaparte, France, 1978

1989 Jeu du Bicentenaire de la Révolution Française

Jeu du Bicentenaire de la Révolution Française

Pack created by Yannick Pennanguer commemorating the bicentenary of the French Revolution and the ce...

1988 Jeu des Bonnets Phrygiens

Jeu des Bonnets Phrygiens

Reproduction of Jeu des Bonnets Phrygiens relating to the Phrygian cap (or liberty cap), France, 198...

1977 Jeu de la V<sup>me</sup>

Jeu de la Vme

A political pack designed by Pino Zac and published in 1977 by Editions Arts et Lettres.

1983 Jeu des Médecins

Jeu des Médecins

Cartoons of doctors and nurses by Pino Zac, published by B.P. Grimaud in 1983.

1962 Jeu Boléro

Jeu Boléro

Sweeping, semi-abstract designs by J.L. Jolin in red and black only.

1976 Le Giscarte

Le Giscarte

Le Giscarte political playing cards designed by Eddy Munerol, France, 1976.

1968 Knoll International

Knoll International

Geometric designs by the French artist Jean Garçon for Knoll International, the furniture company.

1960 Cartes à Jouer Fluorescentes

Cartes à Jouer Fluorescentes

Standard French cards but printed with fluorescent inks on a black background.

1980 SEMP playing cards

SEMP playing cards

Modified Anglo-American courts advertising a French medical publishing company.

1997 Claude Weisbuch

Claude Weisbuch

Free reinterpretation of the traditional Paris pattern courts by the artist Claude Weisbuch.

1985 Hôtels-Grils Campanile

Hôtels-Grils Campanile

Publicity pack for the Campanile hotel and restaurant chain featuring French provincial costumes, wi...

1980 MISSCŒUR

MISSCŒUR

Elongated cards from France with a fourth court card, a Miss.

1965 Jeu des Copains

Jeu des Copains

French popular singing stars of the 1960s.

Dessoris

Dessoris

Spanish-suited cards by Dessoris, Perpignan, which anticipate the French Catalan pattern.

1760 Lyon pattern by Michel Ressy

Lyon pattern by Michel Ressy

Lyon pattern by Michel Ressy, c.1760.

Standard French-suited Bavarian deck by Göbl

Standard French-suited Bavarian deck by Göbl

French-suited Bavarian deck by Andreas Benedict Göbl, late 18th c.

1995 Les métiers et leurs protecteurs

Les métiers et leurs protecteurs

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

1994 Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte

Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte

Famous people associated with Nicolas Fouquet’s splendid château of Vaux-le-Vicomte.

1975 Compagnie Maritime des Chargeurs Réunis

Compagnie Maritime des Chargeurs Réunis

French navigators and explorers on a promotional pack for the C.M.C.R shipping company.

2007 Shrek the Third playing cards

Shrek the Third playing cards

Characters from the 2007 film Shrek the Third, a DreamWorks Animation production.

1983 Jeu de cartes Armelle

Jeu de cartes Armelle

Advertising pack designed by James Hodges for a company specialising in regional cakes and biscuits....

1976 Jeanne d’Arc, “La pucelle d’Orléans”

Jeanne d’Arc, “La pucelle d’Orléans”

Joan of Arc and her contemporaries in a colourful pack designed by Patrice Louis.

75: Early American cards

75: Early American cards

An overview of some of the early cards made in the United States.