The Painted Stuttgart cards, c.1430
Ducks, falcons, stags and hounds... luxury playing cards from southwest Germany, probably for fashionable esteem. Around 1400 the sport of hunting was part of life at court, as depicted in books and playing cards of the day.
Originally in the collections of the dukes of Bavaria, these are considered amongst the earliest surviving sets of playing cards. The cards are made from pasteboard consisting of up to six sheets of paper glued together, over which a layer of gesso was applied on the front side. Outlines of the designs were scratched into the surface, while some details were drawn with pen and ink. The entire surface was gilded and the designs were then painted over the gold using a variety of colours and metal applications. The backs are painted dark red. A study of the watermarks in the paper revealed that it came from the Ravensburg paper mill and was made between 1427 and 1431.
In the paint layers of the Stuttgarter Kartenspiel an impressive range of pigments has been detected: white lead, chalk, lead-tin yellow, yellow lake, green basic copper sulphate hydrate, copper green, azurite, vermilion, red lake, minium, charcoal black, and lamp black. A considerable variety of different metal applications results in the splendid appearance of the playing cards: poliment twist-gold, unpolished silver and gold leaf on a white ground, mordant gilding, gilding with mosaic gold, and glazing of twist-gold and mosaic gold with red lake have been observed.
These cards were made by an unknown workshop in southern Germany, possibly Swabia. The artist has chosen suit symbols and the court hierarchy in relation to the theme of the courtly hunt. Parallels with Italian hand-painted cards can be seen in the attitudes of the court cards and the narrow landscapes with grass, whilst similarities in the arrangement of the numeral cards can be noted in other early playing cards from Germany (e.g. Master of the Playing Cards).
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.
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.
Archaic Spanish-suited deck with 48 cards made in Toledo in 1584.
Gambling and Vice in the Hours of Charles V: card-playing in the local tavern
A facsimile of an early 19th century French-suited deck from the collection of F.X. Schmid.
Jeu “Gerente” - published by Moncar in 1983 in the “Cartes de Fantasie” series.
Handmade Black Peter cards.
Middle Ages by Germano & Cª, (Litografia Maia),
Reproduction of Richard Blome’s Heraldic playing cards, 1684, presented to lady guests at WCMPC Summer Meeting in 1888.
Facsimile of “Le Jeu de la Guerre” designed by Gilles de la Boissière in 1698.
Corner Indices were a major innovation in playing card production.
Baraja Carlos IV, Félix Solesio en la Real Fábrica de Macharaviaya, 1800.
A presentation of the main characteristics of the wood-block courts of the heart suit.
This is a presentation in a more straightforward fashion of the work done by Paul Bostock and me in our book of the same name.
Pack of 52 hand-drawn Jokers.
Some further material relating to cards from nineteenth and twentieth century periodicals.
Facsimile of patriotic 1878 Tyrolean playing cards published by Piatnik in 1992.
Here are a few early advertisements relating to cards from newspapers 1684-1759 and a number of later 19th century documents of interest.
Hand-made playing cards by French prisoners of war in Porchester Castle, Hampshire, c.1796.
A continuation of the development of the off-spring of the Paris patterns and a few examples of how the French regional figures have inspired modern designers.
A great many regional patterns were exported from France and subsequently copied elsewhere. Some of them became local standards in their own right.
Continuing our look at the figures from the regional patterns of France.
On page 11 I illustrated several examples of the regional French patterns from Sylvia Mann's collection; this is a more in-depth look at the figures of these patterns ("portraits" in French).
Facsimile of Tarot de Marseille by Iohann Christoph Hes, Augsburg, c.1750.
Notgeld - Emergency Money - was in rare cases issued on playing cards.
There are some interesting packs from Goodall in the last quarter of the 19th century.
Hand-made ‘Chief Cities Quartettes’ card game, c.1910.
1st edition of famous Bicycle Playing Cards printed by Russell & Morgan Printing Co., Cincinnati, 1885.
Fox & Hounds card game published by C.W. Faulkner & Co., c.1899.
Primiera Bolognese by Modiano, c.1975
Facsimile edition of Swiss suited deck first published by Johannes Müller in c.1840.
Archaic Navarra pattern produced for the Pamplona General Hospital Monopoly by Pedro Varangot in 1786.
Navarra pattern produced for the Pamplona General Hospital Monopoly in 1682.
“Money Bag” pattern by Hermanos Solesi, late 18th c.