unting animals was central to man's existence since prehistoric times, supplying materials for tools, clothes, food, fuel and medicine. Developing endurance and bravery, training for battle Plato reckoned that hunting developed moral strength and virility.
Hunting can put life at risk: mortal injury may befall the hunter or his quarry. Face-to-face with a hungry predator your adrenaline and cortisone levels will rise sharply there is an analogy here with gambling where fortunes may be lost or won
In the Middle Ages hunting was an integral part of life. Animal hides also provided vellum and parchment for manuscripts and, in some instances, playing cards were made from vellum or rawhide. Most packs, however, were made on pasteboard. Several hand-made packs of playing cards from the fifteenth century based on the theme of hunting have survived.
The medieval Christian saw the struggle against sin as a test of moral strength and faith: the Church disapproved of gambling. But hunting was honourable, and animals were moralised as virtues with parallels in human nature, from demonic to divine: donkey, bull, swan, ox, unicorn, deer, dragon, elephant, fox, boar, rabbit, eagle, lion, bear, mermaid, falcon, griffin, hound, etc.
Gambling and Vice in the Hours of Charles V: card-playing in the local tavern
Jeu “Gerente” - published by Moncar in 1983 in the “Cartes de Fantasie” series.
Middle Ages by Germano & Cª, (Litografia Maia),
Fox & Hounds card game published by C.W. Faulkner & Co., c.1899.
“Romance Español” designed by Carlos Sáenz de Tejada and published by Heraclio Fournier in various editions since 1951.
“Europe” designed by Teodoro N. Miciano and printed by Heraclio Fournier in 1962, portraying XIV century European fashions.
Animal suited playing cards engraved by the Master of the Playing Cards, Germany, c.1455
Hunting deck designed by Walter Niedl for “Wild und Hund” magazine, c.1977
German-suited hunting themed deck designed by Günter Schmitz and made by VEB Altenburg, 1980.
“Hunter’s Bridge” playing cards by ASS depicting animals and associated symbols of hunting, c.1976.
Anonymous “La Baraja” Spanish deck, c.2005.
Medieval View of Gambling in the ‘Garden of Earthly Delights’ by Jheronimus Bosch
“D’Ye Ken John Peel” by Greta Games, Carlisle, c.1920.
“St Hubert’s Bridge” published by Éditions Philibert, Paris, c.1956.
The luxury, hand-painted Stuttgart Cards (Stuttgarter Kartenspiel) dated c.1430, with suits of ducks, falcons, stags and hounds.
“Jeu de Bataille” card game published by Éditions Willeb, Paris. The court cards represent characters from different nationalities or ethnic groups who are presumably engaged in battle
Set of medieval playing cards with King, Queen, Knave and numeral cards from one to ten in each of four suits which refer to the activity of hunting, as practiced by the nobility.
“Four Centuries” playing cards by Esselte Öbergs with court cards depicted as caricatures from different historical periods.
“Spielkarte für Schützen” deck designed by Karl Heinz Lanz, published by Rudolf Bechtold and Co., c.1966
Unique pack of playing cards created for the British Museum with illustrations by Frances Button.
Playing cards designed by Hans Sebald Beham (1500–1550).
Medieval style playing cards commemorating the Battle of Grunwald (1410), designed and published by Studio Wena, 2011
Daveluy produced card games between c.1840 and 1890. Many of his playing cards have historical connotations and show figures with a landscape background.
‘Première Croisade’ with single-ended courts by Daveluy, Bruges, c.1850.
Cartes Moyen-Age by Daveluy, Bruges, c.1875.
Quénioux believed that aesthetic feelings are the highest values: “C’est précisément cet amour de l’artisan pour le travail qu’il accomplit, la satisfaction intime qu’il en éprouve, qui ont donné naissance à tous les arts et qui ont fait dire que l’art est la joie dans le travail”.
Baraja Edad Media, fantasy Spanish-suited medieval playing cards published Mas-Reynals, Barcelona, 1993. Designed by M. Malé and illustrated by V. Maza.
Playing Cards by the Master of the Banderoles, one of the earliest professional printmakers, c.1470.
Master PW Circular Playing Cards: roses, columbines, carnations, parrots and hares... everyday objects evoking life and fertility.
Playing Cards have been around in Europe since the 1370s. Some early packs were hand painted works of art which were expensive and affordable only by the wealthy. But as demand increased cheaper methods of production were discovered so that playing cards became available for everyone...
Archaic, late medieval Spanish-suited playing cards printed by Phelippe Ayet, c.1574.
In the Middle Ages hunting was an integral part of life.
The Princely Hunting Pack, c.1440/45, is attributed to Konrad Witz and his workshop in Basle.
During the second half of the fifteenth century, with printing technology commercially established and playing cards already a mass-produced commodity, a succession of masterly German engravers practised their art and decorative playing cards reached a zenith.
Waddington’s Sporting Series, 1933.