XV Century Catalan Playing Cards, Barcelona
These ancient playing cards were discovered inside the binding material of a printed Catalan book dated 1495. Although there are no other surviving examples, it is likely that it is a sole remnant of an archaic Spanish-suited pattern, perhaps used in a particular area, which has been superseded. The four female Sotas (not Queens) stand inside niches and on circular bases. They wear long robes and each holds their respective suit symbol in their right hand. We do not know whether the Kings were seated or standing. The batons are knobbly and arranged in a similar way to what we know today as Spanish: we might expect the cups, coins and swords to be similarly arranged.
If the Latin suit system, including the Spanish variant illustrated here, derived from Islamic cards, then we have an early example of cards faithful in some ways to their Islamic origin, produced at a time when possibly both styles were still in use, and before other versions of Spanish-suited cards were adopted. See also: Moorish Playing Cards • Mamluk Cards • Master of the Banderoles • Gothic Spanish Cards.
The materials used in card games are very perishable so surviving early specimens are very rare. Because games are a magnificent way of promoting social relationships, as well as “unleashing passions”, these late fifteenth century playing cards give us a sense of how the Catalan capital absorbed foreign cultural elements and in turn spread their own style abroad.
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Curator 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.
Issued to mark the opening of line 3 of the metro in Valencia, 1998.
An extraordinary Spanish pack of chocolate advertising playing cards dating from 1920
Another pack of Dutch costume playing cards c.1880.
Dutch costume playing cards made for the Dutch market in the second half of the 19th century.
“Royal Cards Reign of Queen Anne” cover historical events, both honourable and treacherous, during the period 1702 to 1704.
In standard English packs the Ace of Spades is associated with decorative designs. This is a historical survey of why this should be.
Dubois card makers from Liège in the Walloon Region of Belgium.
PLAYING CARDS: A Secret History
This deck was inherited from ancestors, it has has a family history surrounding it. Details of the lives of previous owners make it all so fascinating.
Video by Art of Impossible. In this video you will get a short overview of the most important historical facts about playing cards and their history.
Archaic Spanish-suited deck with 48 cards made in Toledo in 1584.
Bull fighting card game publshed by Naipes Comas, 1969.
Puss in Boots card game manufactured by H. Fournier, 1981.
Gambling and Vice in the Hours of Charles V: card-playing in the local tavern
Fifth Centenary of the Discovery of America by Heraclio Fournier, 1992.
Donald Duck card game © Walt Disney Productions, by Naipes Fournier, 1984.
A facsimile of an early 19th century French-suited deck from the collection of F.X. Schmid.
Caperucita Roja card game published by H. Fournier, 1981.
Pulgarcito (Tom Thumb) card game published by H Fournier, 1981.
The Adventures of Inspector Gadget quartet game published by Fournier in 1983.
Periquito y Tontín Dominoes, featuring Feliz and Bonzo, 1920s.
“Familias de 7 Paises” card game published by Naipes H. Fournier S.A, Vitoria, 1979.
“Parejas del Mundo” matching pairs card game by Naipes H. Fournier, 1972.
The Adventures of Sport-Billy by H. Fournier, 1981.
Chinese Costumes from the Winterthur Collection, published by Fournier, 1984.
Reproduction of Richard Blome’s Heraldic playing cards, 1684, presented to lady guests at WCMPC Summer Meeting in 1888.
Facsimile of “Le Jeu de la Guerre” designed by Gilles de la Boissière in 1698.
Educación Vial (Road Safety) card game published by H. Fournier, 1995.
Corner Indices were a major innovation in playing card production.
Baraja Carlos IV, Félix Solesio en la Real Fábrica de Macharaviaya, 1800.
101 Dalmatas by Naipes Fournier, 1995,
Bicycle Steampunk playing cards with Gothic artwork by Anne Stokes, 2015.
A presentation of the main characteristics of the wood-block courts of the heart suit.
This is a presentation in a more straightforward fashion of the work done by Paul Bostock and me in our book of the same name.
Anne Stokes Collection playing cards, 2010.
Some further material relating to cards from nineteenth and twentieth century periodicals.
Facsimile of patriotic 1878 Tyrolean playing cards published by Piatnik in 1992.
Here are a few early advertisements relating to cards from newspapers 1684-1759 and a number of later 19th century documents of interest.
Hand-made playing cards by French prisoners of war in Porchester Castle, Hampshire, c.1796.
A continuation of the development of the off-spring of the Paris patterns and a few examples of how the French regional figures have inspired modern designers.