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Published January 10, 2023 Updated January 10, 2023

Charta Bellica

“Charta Bellica” playing cards produced by Piatnik, Budapest in 2009.

2009 Hungary Piatnik Márton Somogyi Add to Collection

This pack entitled Charta Bellica (from the Latin meaning “War Playing Cards”) was produced by Piatnik, Budapest in 2009. It consists of 52 cards, 2 jokers and an information card. The four suits represent the four nations of Hungary (hearts), Poland (spades), Turkey (diamonds) and Austria (clubs), with each card of the suit incorporating the appropriate coat-of-arms. The aces depict the four capitals: Pozsony (former capital of Hungary, now Bratislava), Krakow, Istanbul and Wien. The remaining cards portray late 16th century court officials, soldiers or citizens based on contemporary prints, cuts and paintings. The cards were painted by Márton Somogyi (1979- ). See the box

“Charta Bellica” playing cards produced by Piatnik, Budapest in 2009 “Charta Bellica” playing cards produced by Piatnik, Budapest in 2009 “Charta Bellica” playing cards produced by Piatnik, Budapest in 2009

Above: “Charta Bellica” playing cards produced by Piatnik, Budapest in 2009.

Note: the archetypes of Charta Bellica are the 15th century court playing cards called Hofamterspiel

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By Peter Burnett

Member since July 27, 2022

I graduated in Russian and East European Studies from Birmingham University in 1969. It was as an undergraduate in Moscow in 1968 that I stumbled upon my first 3 packs of “unusual” playing cards which fired my curiosity and thence my life-long interest. I began researching and collecting cards in the early 1970s, since when I’ve acquired over 3,330 packs of non-standard cards, mainly from North America, UK and Western Europe, and of course from Russia and the former communist countries.

Russian Playing Cards

Following my retirement from the Bodleian Library in Dec. 2007 I took up a new role as Head of Library Development at the International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications (INASP) to support library development in low-income countries. This work necessitated regular training visits to many sub-Saharan African countries and also further afield, to Vietnam, Nepal and Bangladesh – all of which provided rich opportunities to further expand my playing card collection.

Since 2019 I’ve been working part-time in the Bodleian Library where I’ve been cataloguing the bequest of the late Donald Welsh, founder of the English Playing Card Society.


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