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Published July 03, 1996 Updated June 07, 2023

Early Spanish/Portuguese type

Fragment of a sheet of archaic Spanish-suited 'Dragon' playing cards found during restoration of a house in Antwerp built between 1559 and 1574

Netherlands Portugal History Archaic Patterns Portuguese Pattern Add to Collection

Fragment of a sheet of archaic Spanish-suited ‘Dragon’ playing cards found during restoration of a house in Antwerp built between 1559 and 1574, a period during which the histories of Spain and the Netherlands were connected.

The history of the Spanish Netherlands covers the period from 1556 when, after the abdication of Emperor Charles V, they became the inheritance of his son, King Philip II of Spain, becoming known as the Spanish Netherlands. This period ran until 1715, when the remaining Southern Netherlands came under the authority of the Austrian emperor.

Early Spanish/Portuguese 'Dragon' type c.1550

Above: fragment of a sheet of archaic Spanish-suited ‘Dragon’ playing cards found during restoration of a house in Antwerp built between 1559 and 1574, in a period in which the histories of Spain and the Netherlands were intricately connected. The initials ‘FC’ can be seen on the 9 of swords. The aces feature sea dragons holding the suit symbol; the courts are a seated king, a horse-man and a female page. Cards of this type spread to many parts of the world: examples have been made in, or associated with Italy, Sicily, Portugal, Malta, Spain, Belgium, Brazil, Japan, India and Indonesia.

See also: Francisco Flores, Rimac Valley Excavations in Peru, The South German Engraver.

archaic Latin-suited playing cards by Francisco Flores, Seville, Spain

Further References

Wikipedia: History of the Spanish Netherlands

fragment from King of Coins
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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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