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Antique Swiss Playing Cards, c.1530

The Swiss national suit system of shields, acorns, hawkbells and flowers originated sometime during the fifteenth century.

The Swiss national suit system of shields, acorns, hawkbells and flowers originated sometime during the fifteenth century. The playing cards shown here were originally made in Basel, c.1530. They were discovered inside a book cover and reproduced in 1998 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Cartophilia Helvetica. A distinguishing feature is the "banner 10" cards, which are now more or less counted as an ace. The kings are seated. The same designs can be seen three hundred years later in the cards of David Hurter, c.1830.

Early Swiss playing cards, c.1530

Above: cards from reprint by AGM Müller in 1998.

A second set of antique Swiss playing cards was discovered in May 2011 at Nidwaldner State Archives inside the covers of an old book during restoration. The cards were ‘reconstructed’ into a reproduction pack of 48 cards.

Above: cards from a reproduction by Druckerei Odermatt (www.dod.ch). Image courtesy Bert Kaspersma.

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By Simon Wintle

Member since February 01, 1996

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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.


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