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Published August 06, 2022 Updated March 17, 2023

Treasures of the Russian Museum

Treasures of the Russian Museum / Russkii Muzei : suvenirnye igral’nye karty.

Russia Art Gallery Souvenir Add to Collection

The museum was founded in 1895 by imperial decree of Tsar Nicholas II. Initially, he instructed that it be called the Russian Museum of Emperor Alexander III, in honour of his late father. The main building is the Mikhailovsky Palace in central St. Petersburg, but the vast museum complex comprises several other palaces and buildings in the city, as well as the Mikhailovsky and Summer gardens.

The State Russian Museum

The collection initially consisted of paintings transferred from the Winter, Gatchina and Alexander Palaces, from the Hermitage and the Academy of Arts, as well as from private collections donated to the museum. After the 1917 Revolution, many newly nationalized artworks were moved here. Today, its depositary contains more than 400,000 pieces, ranging from ancient Russian icons and avant-garde to socialist realism and modern art

Treasures of the Russian Museum  / Russkii Muzei : suvenirnye igral’nye karty Treasures of the Russian Museum  / Russkii Muzei : suvenirnye igral’nye karty Treasures of the Russian Museum  / Russkii Muzei : suvenirnye igral’nye karty
Treasures of the Russian Museum  / Russkii Muzei : suvenirnye igral’nye karty

Above: Treasures of the Russian Museum playing cards / Russkii Muzei : suvenirnye igral’nye karty.

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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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