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Published October 05, 2022 Updated October 05, 2022

Karty Derzhavnye

Karty Derzhavnye (Sovereign cards) with artwork by S. Zaitsev, Russia, 1997.

1997 Russia Kombinat Tsvetnoi Pechati S. Zaitsev Cartomancy Add to Collection

Karty Derzhavnye fortune-telling cards were published in 1997 by the Kombinat Tsvetnoi Pechati, St. Petersburg. It is sometimes also translated as “Imperial”. The full pack contains 56 cards (52 cards + 2 jokers + 2 double-sided information/description cards). The author of the deck is S. Spirov and the artist is S. Zaitsev. The creators of the deck have incorporated into the pack the popular fortune-telling system “Fate and Will” and the “Pyramid of Success” solitaire as its basis.

The clubs and spades have a blue/turquoise background while the hearts and diamonds have a red background. The court cards differ in each suit, but the pip cards in each suit only have one background symbol: hearts show Peter the Great in a heart-shaped frame; diamonds show the two-headed eagle in a diamond frame; clubs show a bronze angel, while spades display a royal crown in a spade-shaped frame. The two extra cards explain how to arrange and interpret the cards for fortune-telling.

‘Karty Derzhavnye’ (Sovereign cards) published by the Kombinat Tsvetnoi Pechati, St. Petersburg, 1997 ‘Karty Derzhavnye’ (Sovereign cards) published by the Kombinat Tsvetnoi Pechati, St. Petersburg, 1997

Above: cards from ‘Karty Derzhavnye’ (Sovereign cards) published by the Kombinat Tsvetnoi Pechati, St. Petersburg, 1997. 52 cards + 2 jokers + 2 double-sided information/description cards.

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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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