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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.

Trevisane pattern

The double-ended version of the ‘Trevisane’ pattern originated in the early 19th century.

‘Trevisane’, ‘Trevigiane’ or ‘Venetian’ pattern

North Italy has been a card-making centre since at least the 16th century but packs from that time are scarce. At some point 'standard' patterns became established in certain areas which manufacturers adhered to. It appears that the double-ended version of the ‘Trevisane’ or ‘Trevigiane’ pattern originated in the early 19th century. The designs show archaic features which would have derived from earlier prototypes, including curved, interlaced swords and long batons. Most of the full-length features have been preserved, including the head held by the executioner Jack of Swords. The King of Batons holds a coat-of-arms of Treviso, with the inscription ‘Tarvisium’ in latin, since this pattern originally came from Treviso. There are interesting Italian mottoes on the aces. The ace of coins has a circle to receive the tax stamp.

Trevigiane playing cards printed by Raffaele Pignalosa, c.1925-28

Above: cards from uncut sheets of ‘Trevigiane’ playing cards printed by Raffaele Pignalosa, Naples, c.1925-28. This edition is missing the coat-of-arms of Treviso on the King of Batons. Two different back designs are shown (right) and packs come in 40-card or 52-card versions.

Trevisane pattern by Dal Negro, Treviso, 1971 Trevisane pattern by Dal Negro, Treviso, 1971

Above: ‘Trevisane’ pattern by Dal Negro, Treviso, 1971. The King of Batons holds a coat-of-arms of Treviso, with the inscription ‘Tarvisium’ in latin, since this pattern originally came from Treviso.

Trevisane pattern by Dal Negro, Treviso, 1971

Above: ‘Trevisane’ pattern by Dal Negro, including the two jokers, Treviso, 1967. Image courtesy Rex Pitts.

Trevigiane pattern by Modiano, 1970s

Above: ‘Trevigiane’ pattern by Modiano, 1970s, including the joker. Image courtesy Rex Pitts.

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By Simon Wintle

Member since February 01, 1996

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Curator and editor of the World of Playing Cards since 1996.

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70: Woodblock and stencil : the spade courts

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66: Adverts and related material 1862-1900

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64: The descendants of the French regional patterns: 2

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63: The descendants of the French regional patterns: 1

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Triestine Pattern

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Trentine Pattern

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