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Published June 12, 2023 Updated June 12, 2023

Four Empires - Clemente Roxas

‘Four Empires’ playing cards produced by Clemente Roxas, c.1805.

1805 Spain Clemente de Roxas Geography Luxury Add to Collection

Clemente Roxas produced this fine, luxury pack of playing cards on the theme of ‘four empires’ or ‘four quarters of the world’ reflecting aspects of Spanish history in around 1805. The courts in the four suits depict full-length costume figures of American Indians, the Arabs, the Roman empire and the Spanish colonists of America. It was produced with or without index numbers. The letters "Dn. C.R." can be seen on the base of the pedestal on the king of cups. The ace of coins bears the arms of Castile and León surmounted by crown. Beneath this a lion grasps a sword and a globe. Columns and drapery serve as decorative support to the arms, whilst a tower and a ship can be recognised in the distance. On the four of coins four naked children sit around a table playing cards.

On the ace of cups two satyrs hold the large cup symbol steady while two naked putti cavort on the four of cups. The ace of clubs shows two turbaned figures raising the suit symbol, whilst the four of clubs has a vignette depicting a party of naked children dancing in a circle; the four of swords shows Mars being aroused by a genius holding a blazing torch as the god reaches for his helmet.

‘Four Empires’ produced by Clemente Roxas, c.1805. © The Trustees of the British Museum ‘Four Empires’ produced by Clemente Roxas, c.1805. © The Trustees of the British Museum

Above: ‘Four Empires’ playing cards produced by Clemente Roxas, c.1805. 48 cards. Hand-coloured etching, backs printed in green with a design of entwined ivy leaves. © The Trustees of the British Museum • Clemente Roxas: four corners of the globe

References

Willshire, W. H.: A Descriptive Catalogue of Playing and Other Cards in the British Museum, Trustees of the British Museum, 1876, reprint 1975 (Spanish 263).

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By Simon Wintle

Member since February 01, 1996

Founder and editor of the World of Playing Cards since 1996. He is a former committee member of the IPCS and was graphics editor of The Playing-Card journal for many years. He has lived at various times in Chile, England and Wales and is currently living in Extremadura, Spain. Simon's first limited edition pack of playing cards was a replica of a seventeenth century traditional English pack, which he produced from woodblocks and stencils.


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