The World of Playing Cards Logo

Playing cards have been with us since the 14th century, when they first entered popular culture. Over the centuries packs of cards, in all shapes and sizes, have been used for games, gambling, education, conjuring, advertising, fortune telling, political messages or the portrayal of national or ethnic identity. All over the world, whatever language is spoken, their significance is universal. Their popularity is also due to the imaginative artwork and graphic design which is sometimes overlooked, and the “then & now” of how things have changed.

José Martínez de Castro, page 2

The most noteworthy feature of its history is that this design has since been adopted for use in Sardinia, where it is now regarded as the standard local pattern.b

José Martínez de Castro

ace of coins

Cards from a deck etched on copper by José Martínez de Castro and first published by Clemente Roxas in Madrid in 1810. This example is from the second (censored) edition of 1812, in which extra drapery has been added to the miniature nude figures.

Similar designs were used in the 1850s by Manuel Bertschinger y Codina and Sebastian Comas y Ricart, both from Barcelona. The designs have also been copied by Italian cardmakers in the 20th century. A facsimile was published by Heraclio Fournier (Vitoria, Spain) in 1977, titled Baraja Neoclasica.

The most noteworthy feature of its history is that this design has since been adopted for use in Sardinia, where it is now regarded as the standard local pattern. Allowing for the limitations of present-day production methods, the Sardinian pack follows the Roxas original quite closely.

4 de bastos 4 de oros
4 de espadas 4 de copas

La Época, July 1885
avatar

By Simon Wintle

Member since February 01, 1996

View Articles

Curator and editor of the World of Playing Cards since 1996.

Recommended

Royal Cards Reign of Queen Anne

Royal Cards Reign of Queen Anne

“Royal Cards Reign of Queen Anne” cover historical events, both honourable and treacherous, during the period 1702 to 1704.

Sarde Pattern

Sarde Pattern

Sarde pattern published by Modiano, c.1975, based on early XIX century Spanish model.

Illustrated Playing Cards, c.1740

Illustrated Playing Cards, c.1740

Illustrated playing cards featuring comical engravings and rhymes about saints, c.1740.

XVII Century Engraved Animal Cards

XVII Century Engraved Animal Cards

French suited German engraved cards c1610 to 1650,

Forrest Cards, c.1750s

Forrest Cards, c.1750s

Hand-coloured Forrest Cards produced for “Young Gentlemen & Ladys who are Lovers of Ingenuity”, c.1750s.

Delightful Cards, c.1723

Delightful Cards, c.1723

Delightful Cards, containing variety of entertainment for young Ladies and Gentlemen c.1723.

Baraja “Neoclásica”, Madrid, 1810

Baraja “Neoclásica”, Madrid, 1810

Baraja “Neoclásica” engraved by José Martínez de Castro, first published by Clemente Roxas, Madrid, 1810.

Baraja Mitológica

Baraja Mitológica

“Baraja Mitológica” was first published in Madrid in c.1815 by Josef Monjardín from engravings by José Martínez de Castro.

Master of the Playing Cards

Master of the Playing Cards

Animal suited playing cards engraved by the Master of the Playing Cards, Germany, c.1455

Bubble Cards, 1720

Bubble Cards, 1720

Bubble Cards - known as “All the Bubbles”, c.1720.

Unknown Maker

Unknown Maker

Early German deck by unknown maker, c.1825

Joseph Losch

Joseph Losch

French-suited pack with full-length courts by Joseph Losch, c.1800.

I.M.F. Engraved Cards

I.M.F. Engraved Cards

Playing cards had been made as precious objects for wealthy clients since the late 14th century. They were made to look at, admire and to keep in curiosity cabinets, or perhaps to entertain ladies or educate children rather than to play with.

Master of the Banderoles

Master of the Banderoles

Playing Cards by the Master of the Banderoles, one of the earliest professional printmakers, c.1470.

Master PW Circular Cards

Master PW Circular Cards

Master PW Circular Playing Cards: roses, columbines, carnations, parrots and hares... everyday objects evoking life and fertility.

Forster

Forster

Deck made by Johann Jobst Forster, Nürnberg, first half of 18th century in the Paris pattern.

Backofen

Backofen

Deck manufactured by Johann Matheus Backofen, Nürnberg c.1800.

F. d’Alphonse Arnoult

F. d’Alphonse Arnoult

Finely engraved deck by F. d’Alphonse Arnoult (Paris), c.1860. 52 cards.

José Martínez de Castro, page 2

José Martínez de Castro, page 2

The most noteworthy feature of its history is that this design has since been adopted for use in Sardinia, where it is now regarded as the standard local pattern.b

Sardinian playing cards

Sardinian playing cards

Sardinian playing cards.

Early German Engraved Playing-cards

Early German Engraved Playing-cards

During the second half of the fifteenth century, with printing technology commercially established and playing cards already a mass-produced commodity, a succession of masterly German engravers practised their art and decorative playing cards reached a zenith.

South German Engraver

South German Engraver

Conforming to an archaic format of 52 cards with banner 10s, female 'Sotas', horsemen and kings, the pack is of interest on account of a number of other packs with similar characteristics surviving elsewhere, suggesting an archaic variant of the Spanish-suited pack.