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Published November 27, 2011 Updated November 02, 2022

Netherlands

Playing cards have been known in the Low Countries since the 14th century

Netherlands History Add to Collection
Hidden meanings in painting by Jheronimus Bosch

Above: Hidden meanings in painting by Hieronimus Bosch, where souls are tormented by fear, anxiety, chaos and distress   more

Above: playing cards by the “Master of the Banderoles”   more

Above: detail from “The Card Players”, after Lucas van Leyden, Netherlandish, probably c. 1550-1599   more →

Playing cards have been known in the Low Countries since the 14th century, mostly imported from France or Belgium, but until the 17th century there were few Dutch card makers. An edict from Lyons in 1583 caused many French playing card makers to emigrate so some of them may have arrived in Holland more

There is also the period of the Spanish Netherlands under King Philip II of Spain when the histories of Spain and the Netherlands were connected more

detail from “Man and Woman Playing Cards” painting by Dutch artist from the circle of Anthoine Palamedesz (1601-1673)

Above: detail from “Man and Woman Playing Cards” by Dutch artist from the circle of Anthoine Palamedesz (1601-1673). The card game is used as a metaphor for love: the man is handing the ace of hearts to the woman. Image courtesy Grosvenor Art Gallery, Chester.

Above: detail from “The card game on the cradle allegory” attributed to Johannes van Wijckersloot, 1683 more →

Above: de Speelkaartemaker. The woman at front-right is using a very large pair of cutting shears, whilst in the background several other operations, such as colouring, are being performed.

During the 17th century, Holland’s so-called Golden Age, Amsterdam witnessed a great blossoming in the manufacture of playing cards and thanks to their steadily increasing production, they were able to capture a significant portion of the European market. In 1662 card makers joined a new guild, together with booksellers, printers and binders. This meant that their interests could be better protected against plagiarism and unfair competition.

Above: card from Henry Winstanley's Geographical playing cards, 1676, depicting a Dutchman and woman in typical outfits along with the most important geographic, political and economic facts of the day.

Above: Kriegs-Spiel by Peter Schencken, Amsterdam, c.1670

Above: Archaeological find: old playing cards under the floorboards.

Early manufacturers based in Amsterdam at that time include Jean Fouquet, P. Mortier, who also imitated French educational, geographical or satirical packs, J. Gole, Gerard Valk, Carel de Wagenaer and A. de Winter. A number of French card-makers had emigrated to Holland because of the duties imposed at home.

cards published by Jonas Fouquet & son, Amsterdam, 18th Century

Above: cards published by Jonas Fouquet & son, Amsterdam, 18th Century.

facsimile edition of cards first published by Carel de Wagenaer, Amsterdam in c.1698

Above: cards first published by Carel de Wagenaer, Amsterdam, c.1698

A two-volume “Traité du Jeu” concerning the morality of gaming was published in Amsterdam in 1709 and editions of “Maison des Jeux” (1702) and “Académie des Jeux” (1728) were also published. In the 18th century non-standard pictorial cards were exported to England.

Card Players by Candlelight, Johan Mengels Culverhouse (c.1820-1891).

Above: Dutch costume playing cards, second half of the 19th century.

Among later cards made in Holland, the majority have French suit signs. Sometimes the courts resemble French ones, sometimes German ones, and very often these packs have pictorial aces.

Above: late 19th century War deck by Nederlandsche Speelkaarten Fabriek from Amsterdam

B. Dondorf: Fynste Java Speelkaarten No.17

Above: B. Dondorf's “Fynste Java Speelkaarten” for the former Dutch East Indies during the colonial period, 1879

Above: “S. M. N” shipping line playing cards produced by Nederlandse Speelkaarten Fabriek, c.1910   more →

Above: Nederlandsche Oliefabriek Calvé quartet game, c.1920

Above: advertisement for Speelkaartenfabriek Nederland, which operated from 1909-1969 until it was taken over by Carta Mundi in 1970.

Above: Speelkaartenfabriek Nederland “Fortuna” deck, 1926

Above: Elegant “Nieuw Neerlandia” pattern designed by M.A. Koekkoek, 1930

Above: Sikar publicity deck by Speelkaartenfabriek Nederland, Amsterdam, 1935   more →

Above: Havermout Kwartetspel   more

Above: Albert Heijn’s “Boffie” Kwartetspel first published in 1936   more

Zwanenberg’s Kwartetspel, 1938

Above: Zwanenberg’s Kwartetspel, 1938   more →

Above: Maritime pack designed by J.Verhoeven, c.1938  more

Patience deck for British American Tobacco printed by Speelkaartenfabriek Nederland c.1940

Above: patience deck for British American Tobacco, c.1940   more →

Historic card game published for Noord Braband Insurance Society, 1943

Above: Historic card game published for Noord Braband Insurance Society, 1943   more →

Above: Anonymous Dutch deck, 1940s   more →

Neerlands Glorie Kwartetspel published by Hausemann & Hötte, 1945

Above: Neerlands Glorie Kwartetspel published by Hausemann & Hötte, 1945   more →

Above: Hollywood Stars, c.1957   more →

Above: deck designed by Max Velthuijs for KLM airlines   more →

Above: Verkeers Quartet, c.1965

Above: Sprookjes Kwartet, c.1970

Above: Nederlands Stedenkwartet, c.1970

Above: “De Kloof” Advertising Playing Cards, c.1970

Above: Genoese pattern made in Hungary for Dutch market, 1970s

Above: Boekenkwartet, 1970s

Netherlands Antilles stamps issued on May 26, 1977

Above: Netherlands Antilles stamps issued on May 26, 1977

Above: Story Magazine, 1978   more →

Above: Netherlands Kostuum Kwartet, 1983   more →

Above: Nationale-Nederlanden insurance company, 1984   more →

Above: ‘Stars Play’ card set published by Monty Gum in 1988   more →

“Noord Brabant” deck printed by Carta Mundi in 1992

Above: “Noord Brabant” deck designed by Han Janssen and printed by Carta Mundi in 1992 for the I.P.C.S. convention in Veldhoven, Netherlands. The courts show farmers, women and guild members in local costumes. The jokers show representatives of the carnival tradition in North Brabant.

Beesten Kwartet designed by Peter Vos, 1995

Above: Beesten Kwartet designed by Peter Vos, 1995

Above: Dienst Justitiële Inrichtingen playing cards, c.2003

Above: publicity deck by Esveco Specialities for Alto Imaging Group   more

Rhineland pattern for the Netherlands by F X Schmid, c.1990

Above: Rhineland pattern for the Netherlands with Dutch scenic aces by F X Schmid, c.1990

North German pattern printed by KZWP-Trefl for Fortuna Speelkaarten, 2004

Above: North German pattern printed by KZWP-Trefl for Fortuna Speelkaarten, 2004

The so-called ‘Dutch Pattern’ was first produced by Belgian cardmakers in the 19th century and subsequently became associated with the Netherlands.

Above: Dutch Pattern for Van Perlstein, c.1960.

Souvenir for Rijksmuseum Amsterdam by Hearts Playingcards

Above: Souvenir for Rijksmuseum Amsterdam by Hearts Playingcards, c.2012 [www.heartsplayingcards.com]

Dutch pattern playing cards promoting the annual International Four Days of Walking Event held in Holland, made in Germany by Nürnberger-Spielkarten-Verlag GmbH, 2016

Above: Four Days of Walking Event, 2016

Donald Duck Groente & Fruit Pretkwartet

Above: Donald Duck Groente & Fruit Pretkwartet more →

Natuur Kwartet

Above: Natuurkwartet more →

Asperge Kwartet

Above: Asperge Kwartet more →

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1,432 Articles

By Simon Wintle

Member since February 01, 1996

Founder and editor of the World of Playing Cards since 1996. He is a former committee member of the IPCS and was graphics editor of The Playing-Card journal for many years. He has lived at various times in Chile, England and Wales and is currently living in Extremadura, Spain. Simon's first limited edition pack of playing cards was a replica of a seventeenth century traditional English pack, which he produced from woodblocks and stencils.


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