Pierre Marechal, Rouen, c.1567
After the development of the printing industry at the end of the 15th century, Rouen became an important centre for card-making whose influence extended far afield. The cards of Rouen are significant because many were produced for export to Britain and they became the model from which our English pack subsequently evolved.
An archaic pack of cards made by Pierre Marechal c.1567 preserved in the archives at Rouen represents the model from which our English pack subsequently evolved. When England banned the importation of cards in 1628, English printers used Rouen court cards as inspiration for their own packs. The style of the costumes on English playing cards is late medieval, being descended from the Rouen models.
The cards made in Rouen at that time were an eclectic mixture of features from cards made for various foreign markets, hence the origins of what became the "English" pattern are not one precise source, but a mixture of several earlier regional patterns.
Member since February 01, 1996View Articles
Curator 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.
Table tennis players in action published by La Ducale, an imprint of Grimaud, France, 1979.
Tarot game pack with fantasy sci-fi artwork on the trumps published by Pocket SF, France.
Jeu de 54 cartes, completely anonymous, designed to resemble locally produced French packs.
Another pack of Dutch costume playing cards c.1880.
Luxurious Spanish-suited pack made by Alphonse Arnoult, Paris, France, c.1850.
Original designs from the French overseas department of Martinique by local artist Martine Porry.
Standard French designs adapted for children. Made by France Cartes for La Grande Récré, c.2016.
A recreated of the original 1876, No. 18, Triplicate deck by A. Dougherty by Michael Scott in 2014.
Pack promoting Beaujolais wine published by Editions du Nuton, France.
Complete re-design of traditional pack into what the publishers considered to be ergonomically efficient.
Dutch costume playing cards made for the Dutch market in the second half of the 19th century.
“Royal Cards Reign of Queen Anne” cover historical events, both honourable and treacherous, during the period 1702 to 1704.
In standard English packs the Ace of Spades is associated with decorative designs. This is a historical survey of why this should be.
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.
My late mother found these miniature cards in a skip around 50 years ago.
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.
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.
Eurotrotter by La Ducale, c.1980s.
‘Tout Est Bien Qui Finit Bien’ family card game by Dondorf.
Facsimile of Swiss William Tell deck from c.1870 published by Lo Scarabeo.
Puss in Boots card game manufactured by H. Fournier, 1981.
Bass & Bass ‘Jeu des Familles’ made by Franz-Josef Holler, Münich, 1989.
Gambling and Vice in the Hours of Charles V: card-playing in the local tavern
Jeu de Quaternes ‘Rizá’
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...
Eroticartes with drawings by Pino Zac, 1983.
Sleeping Beauty card game published in France, c.1980s.
Benedicte Morand-Bail’s striking and colourful abstract poker deck with French named courts
Bretagne (Brittany) playing cards, Grimaud, c.1970.
Caleb Bartlett patriotic deck (reproduction), around 1835-40.
Jeu “Gerente” - published by Moncar in 1983 in the “Cartes de Fantasie” series.
Bicentenaire de la Révolution Française 1789–1989 created by Christian Offroy.
Jeu du Moulin by Watilliaux, Paris.
Playtex - le jeu de la beauté et du destin, Grimaud, 1971.
Jeu de Memoire card game promoting Véritable Chaumes cheese from the village of St Antoines in south west France.
Reproduction of Richard Blome’s Heraldic playing cards, 1684, presented to lady guests at WCMPC Summer Meeting in 1888.