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Published November 14, 2022 Updated November 14, 2022

Russian Playing Card History - From the Beginnings to 1917

An in-depth review of the history of card-playing, gambling, legislation, manufacture and taxation of playing cards in Russia.

Russia Imperial Playing Card Factory History Tax Gambling Add to Collection

Russian playing card history: from the beginnings to 1917” originally published in The Playing Card, 13 (4), May 1985, pp. 97-113 and reprinted in The Playing Card, 40 (1), Jul-Sep 2011, pp. 41-57.

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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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