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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.

Bavarian Military Cards

The King of Acorns is supposed to represent Prince Otto; the King of Leaves is Maximilian II; the King of Bells is Ludwig II; the King of Hearts is Ludwig I wearing a general's uniform. The court cards are all male, but some of the numeral cards depict women.

Bayerische Militärkarte / Bavarian Military Cards

manufactured by Johann Conrad Jegel (1791-1837), Nürnberg

The bright images on these finely engraved patriotic playing cards with a military theme are coloured with stencils. The uniforms are coloured in mainly green and blue, and the Kings are not actually wearing their crowns. The King of Acorns is supposed to represent Crown Prince Otto I; the King of Leaves is Maximilian II; the King of Bells is Ludwig II; the King of Hearts is Ludwig I wearing a general's uniform. The court cards are all male, but some of the numeral cards depict women as well as military objects. This appears to be a later edition produced after 1879.

Above: German-suited "Bayerische Militärkarte" (Bavarian Military Cards) manufactured by Johann Conrad Jegel (1791-1837), 36 cards, single-ended, stencil coloured, 10.4 x 5.8 cm. The Two of Hearts has a tax stamp with a double-headed eagle and the inscription "Deutsches Reich - Dreissig Pf. No.52". The back is a cross-grid pattern. Images courtesy Rod Starling.


REFERENCES

"Geschichte Auf Spielkarten 1789-1871", Deutsches Spielkartenmuseum, Leinfelden-Echterdingen, 1987

All images on this page are from the collection of Rod Starling, author of "The Art and Pleasures of Playing Cards".

See also: Historical Deck made by Johann Conrad Jegel.

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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

Download as Adobe PDF files:

"Playing Card Art Collectors Extraordinaire"

"Some Facts About Facsimiles"

"Something New and Topical"

"Tales From the Stage"

"Shuffling Along With History"

"Steamboat Cards and the Mississippi Mystique"

"Piatnik: High Quality & Longevity"

"Three Rare Playing Card Back Designs"

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