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Published December 24, 2023 Updated January 07, 2024

Vogelspiel

Vogelspiel, a German card game known as the “cuckoo game” also known as “Gnau”.

1760 Germany Antoni Fescher Fetscher Card Games Cuccu Add to Collection

Vogelspiel is a German card game known as the "cuckoo game" and this set was produced by Antoni Fescher, c.1760, whose details can be read on the ‘Auszahlt’ card. The cuckoo card is labelled ‘Pfeiff’, others are ‘Glas’ - goblet; ‘Narr’ - fool; ‘Hex’ - witch; ‘Würste’ - sausages; ‘Werda’ - a soldier; ‘Hott’ - horse; ‘Miau’ - cat; ‘Einkehrt’ - Inn and ‘Auszahlt’ - counting house. The Cucu pack (or ‘Coucou’) is a very old game with a complex history which may have originated in Bologna, Italy. It spread to countries such as Austria, Germany, all of Scandinavia, particularly Sweden. It is known as ‘Gnau’ in Denmark and Norway.

The pack has 32 cards: 10 pairs of picture cards with titles and a series numbered I - XII.

Vogelspiel, a German card game known as the 'cuckoo game', c.1760. Source gallica.bnf.fr / BnF Vogelspiel, a German card game known as the 'cuckoo game', c.1760. Source gallica.bnf.fr / BnF Vogelspiel, a German card game known as the 'cuckoo game', c.1760. Source gallica.bnf.fr / BnF Vogelspiel, a German card game known as the 'cuckoo game', c.1760. Source gallica.bnf.fr / BnF
Vogelspiel, a German card game known as the 'cuckoo game', c.1760. Source gallica.bnf.fr / BnF

Above: Vogelspiel, a German card game known as the 'cuckoo game', by Antoni Fescher, c.1760. 32 cards: stencilled woodcut; 8.6 x 5.7 cm. Square corners, blue checkered backs with dotted crosses. Source gallica.bnf.fr / Bibliothèque nationale de France • Vogelspiel

Vogelspiel, a German card game known as the 'cuckoo game', c.1760. Source gallica.bnf.fr / BnF

A similar set produced by Joseph Fetscher, Munich, is in the British Museum • Museum number 1896,0501.446

One of the house cards has the legend "Joseph Fetscher", and the other "Kartenfabrikant in München".

Vogelspiel card game produced by Joseph Fetscher in Munich, late 18th century. © The Trustees of the British Museum

Above: 20 picture cards from a 32-card Vogelspiel card game produced by Joseph Fetscher in Munich, late 18th century. Hand-coloured woodcut, backs printed with a pattern of circles and stars in blue. © The Trustees of the British Museum.

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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.


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