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Published August 02, 2022 Updated August 05, 2022

Hunting playing cards

Hunting playing cards / “Okhotnich’i karty” with illustrations by the court artist Mihály Zichy.

2005 Russia Mihály Zichy Hunting Add to Collection

Every card in this pack depicts a winter hunting scene from the reign of Tsar Alexander II created by the court artist Mihály Zichy (1827 – 1906). Zichy lived and worked primarily in St. Petersburg and Paris during his career. He would accompany Tsar Alexander II on his frequent hunting trips to the Gatchina Palace – a royal palace where the Tsar had built a hunting village and other facilities for his imperial hunting court.

Water colour paintings based on the artist’s sketches were created and placed into albums (now in the Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg). 52 of the water colours were selected and a pack of cards was created, but never published. The cards were, however, displayed in an exhibition at the Hermitage, St. Petersburg, in 2005. This pack appears to be an undated facsimile of the original, probably following the exhibition. A miniature playing card on the upper half of each card indicates its denomination.

Hunting playing cards / “Okhotnich’i karty” with illustrations by the court artist Mihály Zichy

Above: Hunting playing cards / “Okhotnich’i karty” with illustrations by the court artist Mihály Zichy (1827–1906). There is no indication of the publisher or date on the tuck box. 52 cards; there are no jokers, and the card dimensions are 86 x 53 mm.

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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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