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Published July 03, 1996 Updated July 27, 2023

Marlborough’s Victories

Marlborough’s Victories playing cards, first published in 1707, depict Marlborough's campaigns and the personalities involved.

1707 United Kingdom Lenthall Margary Facsimiles & Replicas Political Wartime Add to Collection

Marlborough’s Victories playing cards, 1707

Marlborough's Victories playing cards, first published in 1707, depict Marlborough's campaigns and the personalities involved. The elaborately engraved illustrations cover a variety of European political issues and include portraits of royalty connected with the campaigns. The spade suit comprises almost entirely a series of savage, not to say scurrilous attacks upon the French king, Louis XIV. The pack also sheds an interesting light on the fall of the Duke from public favour.

A large number of educational and political packs were published during the 17th-18th centuries. It has not yet been discovered who was the original publisher of these cards, but nearly every pack of pictorial cards since the 1670s except those with marked political involvement were reprinted or reissued by a Fleet Street stationer, John Lenthall from about 1710 onwards. A modern facsimile of this very rare pack is part of a range published by Harry Margary.

Marlborough's Victories Playing Cards

Above: cards from the facsimile edition courtesy Giles de Margary. These pictorially elaborate engraved set of playing cards demonstrate fully the adulation at that time accorded to the first Duke of Marlborough during his overseas campaigns. Facsimile packs can be ordered directly from www.harrymargary.com


Each card lettered with suit at top right and, at top left, either a Roman numeral or the word 'Knave / Queen / King", also with text, sometimes verse, in a panel at the bottom, and text within the images.

the victories of the Duke of Marlborough in the War of the Spanish Succession. © The Trustees of the British Museum

Above: 16 original playing cards from a pack of 52 commemorating the victories of the Duke of Marlborough in the War of the Spanish Succession. Spades satirise the French and Austrian enemy, the other three suits represent scenes from the campaigns, mostly in the Netherlands, also in Spain and Belgium; the aces, court and some numeral cards are portraits or satirical or allegorical scenes. © The Trustees of the British Museum • Museum number 1841,0508.4-55

Willshire, W. H.: A Descriptive Catalogue of Playing and Other Cards in the British Museum, Trustees of the British Museum, 1876, reprint 1975. (English 193)

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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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