Delightful set of early 17th century engraved and hand-coloured German playing cards with French suit signs by an unknown artist with monogram I.S. or S.I., c.1610 to 1650. A variety of comic or imaginary wildlife scenes have been illustrated between the suit symbols which are stencilled into the normal positions. The red suits have birds whilst the black suits have animals. Some animals derive from fables, such as a unicorn on the two of clubs. Orpheus plays the lyre on the four of spades as animals listen to his music. The 10 of spades depicts a cat fiddling as mice dance around his feet! The kings, queens and valets are debonair and gracious. The four of hearts bears an English “Stock in Hand” tax stamp of c.1712 which would have been applied on importation. The “Stock in Hand” stamp was levied prior to the introduction of the first red duty stamps and covered stock held at the time of the act as opposed to imports after the act. These cards would have been seen by John Lenthall as he followed the designs in his “Forest Cards”, often reversing the image.