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Published December 08, 2022 Updated December 08, 2022

Calcio Storico Fiorentino

‘Calcio Storico Fiorentino’ by Costante Costantini is based on an early form of football that originated during the Middle Ages in Italy.

1978 Italy Alinari Baglioni Costante Costantini Sports Woodblock Add to Collection

This Italian-suited pack was designed by Costante Costantini, with artwork by Alinari Baglioni, on Florentine calcio storico (historic football) - an early form of football that originated during the Middle Ages in Italy. The sport is thought to have started in the Piazza Santa Croce in Florence. It was widely played by amateurs in streets and squares using handmade balls of cloth or animal skin.

Today, three matches are played each year in Piazza Santa Croce in Florence in the third week of June. A team from the four quarters of the city is represented – each of which are represented in the pack: swords -- Santa Croce / Azzurri (Blues); cups -- Santa Maria Novella / Rossi (Reds); coins -- Santo Spirito / Bianchi (Whites); batons --San Giovanni / Verdi (Greens). The appropriate coloured team banner is shown on the ace of each suit.

The pack, which consists of 40 cards and an extra title card in 4 languages, comes in a wooden box with the lily of Florence engraved on the lid in black on a pale-yellow background.

‘Calcio Storico Fiorentino’ playng cards designed by Costante Costantini, 1978 ‘Calcio Storico Fiorentino’ playng cards designed by Costante Costantini, 1978 ‘Calcio Storico Fiorentino’ playng cards designed by Costante Costantini, 1978

Above: ‘Calcio Storico Fiorentino’ playng cards produced from woodcuts by Costante Costantini, with artwork by Alinari Baglioni, 1978.

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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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