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Published September 29, 2022 Updated September 29, 2022

Madam Luck

“Madam Luck” playing cards designed by B. Adziev, 1998.

1998 Russia Colour Printing Plant B. Adziev Humour Psychology Add to Collection
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Madam Luck playing cards were printed at the Colour Printing Plant in St. Petersburg in 1998. The artist is B. Adziev and the author S. Spirov. The intention is to show how good or bad fortune can influence our lives. The suits represent different aspects of life: hearts – love and passion; diamonds – business and career; spades – power and politics; clubs – law and order. The double-ended courts portray individuals: on one half they have been “lucky” and on the other they have been “tempted”. An angel or a devil appears in the corner of the appropriate half. So in the hearts suit, the King is either fit and healthy or a rake and philanderer; the Queen is either an innocent country girl or a prostitute; and the Jack is either a considerate lover or drunkard. The pip cards are slight variants of the standard: hearts have an arrow piercing them; diamonds have a wad of banknotes superimposed; spades have a crown inserted and clubs have a pair of pistols within.

“Madam Luck” playing cards designed by B. Adziev

The court cards are double-ended: on one half they have been “lucky” and on the other they have been “tempted”...


“Madam Luck” playing cards designed by B. Adziev

Above: “Madam Luck” playing cards designed by B. Adziev and printed at the Colour Printing Plant in St. Petersburg in 1998. 36 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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