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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.

Sarde Pattern

Sarde pattern published by Modiano, c.1975, based on early XIX century Spanish model.

The Sarde pattern is inspired by the “Neoclásica” deck etched on copper by José Martínez de Castro and first published as a de luxe edition by Clemente Roxas in Madrid in 1810. The model was copied in Spain, Italy and France and is still used in Sardinia, where it is regarded as the standard local pattern and manufactured by local firms. The Sarde version has no ‘pintas’ (breaks in framelines) and the ace of coins has been reduced to a maker’s badge and a space for the tax stamp. Otherwise it follows the Roxas original closely.

Sarde Pattern published by Modiano, c.1975 Sarde Pattern published by Modiano, c.1975

Above: Sarde Pattern published by Modiano, c.1975. The four 4s have skilfully engraved vignettes. See the Box

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By Rex Pitts (1940-2021)

Member since January 30, 2009

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Rex's main interest was in card games, because, he said, they were cheap and easy to get hold of in his early days of collecting. He is well known for his extensive knowledge of Pepys games and his book is on the bookshelves of many.

His other interest was non-standard playing cards. He also had collections of sheet music, music CDs, models of London buses, London Transport timetables and maps and other objects that intrigued him.

Rex had a chequered career at school. He was expelled twice, on one occasion for smoking! Despite this he trained as a radio engineer and worked for the BBC in the World Service.

Later he moved into sales and worked for a firm that made all kinds of packaging, a job he enjoyed until his retirement. He became an expert on boxes and would always investigate those that held his cards. He could always recognize a box made for Pepys, which were the same as those of Alf Cooke’s Universal Playing Card Company, who printed the card games. This interest changed into an ability to make and mend boxes, which he did with great dexterity. He loved this kind of handicraft work.

His dexterity of hand and eye soon led to his making card games of his own design. He spent hours and hours carefully cutting them out and colouring them by hand.

Recommended

Kaffeehaus-Pikett

Kaffeehaus-Pikett

Kaffeehaus-Pikett featuring the old Viennese Large Crown pattern, made by ASS.

64: The descendants of the French regional patterns: 2

64: The descendants of the French regional patterns: 2

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.

63: The descendants of the French regional patterns: 1

63: The descendants of the French regional patterns: 1

A great many regional patterns were exported from France and subsequently copied elsewhere. Some of them became local standards in their own right.

62: French regional patterns: the queens and jacks

62: French regional patterns: the queens and jacks

Continuing our look at the figures from the regional patterns of France.

61: French regional patterns: the kings

61: French regional patterns: the kings

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).

Modern English Court

Modern English Court

Modern English court style by Games & Print Services Limited, c.1997.

Dal Negro Bridge set

Dal Negro Bridge set

Dal Negro Bridge set featuring old Vienna pattern courts.

Carte Romane

Carte Romane

“Carte Romane” designed by Giorgio Pessione, 1973, celebrating the history of Rome.

Sarde Pattern

Sarde Pattern

Sarde pattern published by Modiano, c.1975, based on early XIX century Spanish model.

Triestine Pattern

Triestine Pattern

The Triestine pattern is derived from the Venetian (Trevisane) pattern but with its own characteristics.

Trentine Pattern

Trentine Pattern

Trentine Pattern

Primiera Bolognese

Primiera Bolognese

Primiera Bolognese by Modiano, c.1975

Bergamasche Pattern

Bergamasche Pattern

Bergamasche Pattern by Modiano, 1970s.

Jonas Fouquet Navarra Pattern

Jonas Fouquet Navarra Pattern

Navarra Pattern by Jonas Fouquet, c.1720 and c.1820.

Navarra Pattern, 1682

Navarra Pattern, 1682

Navarra pattern produced for the Pamplona General Hospital Monopoly in 1682.

Hermanos Solesi

Hermanos Solesi

“Money Bag” pattern by Hermanos Solesi, late 18th c.

Dvouhlavé Hrací Karty

Dvouhlavé Hrací Karty

“Dvouhlavé Hrací Karty” (Czech Seasons playing cards) made by Obchodní Tiskárny, c.1980.

AGMüller English Pattern

AGMüller English Pattern

AGMüller standard English pattern for the Royal Jordanian Airline, 1980s

Georg Kapfler

Georg Kapfler

Antique deck of old Bohemian playing cards of the German type manufactured by Georg Kapfler and dated 1611.

Genovesi Pattern

Genovesi Pattern

Genoese pattern from Italy.

Modern Swiss-German Pattern

Modern Swiss-German Pattern

Modern Swiss-German Pattern by AGMüller, c.2000.

Skat Express

Skat Express

One end Berlin pattern the other standard English pattern

Salzburger Pattern

Salzburger Pattern

Salzburger pattern by Ferd. Piatnik & Söhne, Vienna

Brepols Genoese pattern

Brepols Genoese pattern

“Cartes Françaises” and Genoese pattern by Brepols.

Dutch Pattern for Van Perlstein

Dutch Pattern for Van Perlstein

Brepols Dutch Pattern for Van Perlstein distillery, c.1960.

Rhineland Pattern by KZWP

Rhineland Pattern by KZWP

Rhineland pattern by KZWP.

North German pattern

North German pattern

The North German pattern appeared in the mid-19th century, derived from the French ‘Paris’ pattern,

Bavarian Pattern

Bavarian Pattern

Bavarian single-ended pattern by Vereinigte Altenburg-Stralsunder Spielkarten-Fabriken A-G., c.1937

Portuguese pattern

Portuguese pattern

19th century Portuguese pattern, re-printed from original woodblocks.

Old Bavarian pattern

Old Bavarian pattern

Uncut sheet of playing cards of the Old Bavarian pattern by Michael Schatzberger, Passau, 1780

German Saxon Pattern

German Saxon Pattern

The German Saxon Pattern or “Schwerdter Karte”.

Bohemian Pattern

Bohemian Pattern

The Bohemian Pattern, sometimes called the Prager Pattern, has roots in the 16th century.

Provence Pattern

Provence Pattern

The 'Provence' pattern contains figures which go back to the fifteenth century.

L. P. Holmblad c.1840

L. P. Holmblad c.1840

L. P. Holmblad's house pattern used from c.1840. The K♠ carries a harp as in the traditional French-type cards; but the J♠ is sleeping with his arms folded and his shield resting behind him.

Benoist Laius

Benoist Laius

Spanish playing cards such as these were used in those parts of France where certain games were enjoyed, such as Aluette.

19: 19th Century Breaks With Tradition - Unusual Versions of the Standard English Pattern

19: 19th Century Breaks With Tradition - Unusual Versions of the Standard English Pattern

The centuries-long tradition of English court cards was subject to misinterpretation and in some cases a desire for individuality. Here are some examples of breaks with that tradition.

Lyons Pattern type iii

Lyons Pattern type iii

This pattern was used in various parts of eastern France but was ultimately replaced by the official ‘Paris’ pattern in c.1780.

Naipes Tipo Húngaro

Naipes Tipo Húngaro

32 cards Hungarian "Seasons" pattern, with Argentinean tax stamp and trade mark of six-pointed star on 7 of bells, c.1955-60.

La Española 2000  pattern

La Española 2000 pattern

‘La Española 2000’ is a digitally re-drawn version of the original classic ‘La Española’ Spanish-suited pack and is produced in several sizes (standard, round, small and pocket).

Piacentine Pattern

Piacentine Pattern

Piacentine Pattern, double-ended version made by Modiano, Trieste