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Published December 30, 2023 Updated December 30, 2023

Meal Tub Plot

Meal Tub Plot playing cards [facsimile] with 17th century sketches by Francis Barlow.

1971 United Kingdom USA Randal Taylor Wayland Francis Barlow Facsimiles & Replicas Historical Political Add to Collection

This facsimile of the fictitious anti-Catholic Meal Tub plot against the future King James II was published by Harold & Virginia Wayland, in 1971, in a limited edition of 275 packs. It reproduces the original sketches of Francis Barlow (1626-1704) made in the period 1678-1679 and published in 1680 by Randal Taylor, London. The cards were reproduced from the only complete pack held by the Worshipful Company of Makers of Playing Cards. The two protagonists in this plot were Mrs Cellier, in whose house the incriminating documents of the alleged plot were found in a meal tub (more information here), and Thomas Dangerfield (1650-1685) who pretended to have discovered this Catholic plot against the monarchy.

Meal Tub Plot playing cards [facsimile] published by H. & V. Wayland, 1971 Meal Tub Plot playing cards [facsimile] published by H. & V. Wayland, 1971

Above: Meal Tub Plot playing cards [facsimile] published by H. & V. Wayland in a limited edition of 275 packs, 1971.

Harold and Virginia Wayland published simultaneously a book (in a limited edition of 200 copies) entitled Francis Barlow’s sketches for the Meal Tub Plot playing cards, with introductory notes and an account of the Plot in relation to its times.

Meal Tub Plot playing cards [facsimile] published by H. & V. Wayland, 1971

Further References

WCMPC website: 'The Meal Tub Plot', London, c1680

More original cards can be viewed at the British Museum website: Museum number 1878,1012.418-463

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By Peter Burnett

Member since July 27, 2022

I graduated in Russian and East European Studies from Birmingham University in 1969. It was as an undergraduate in Moscow in 1968 that I stumbled upon my first 3 packs of “unusual” playing cards which fired my curiosity and thence my life-long interest. I began researching and collecting cards in the early 1970s, since when I’ve acquired over 3,330 packs of non-standard cards, mainly from North America, UK and Western Europe, and of course from Russia and the former communist countries.

Russian Playing Cards

Following my retirement from the Bodleian Library in Dec. 2007 I took up a new role as Head of Library Development at the International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications (INASP) to support library development in low-income countries. This work necessitated regular training visits to many sub-Saharan African countries and also further afield, to Vietnam, Nepal and Bangladesh – all of which provided rich opportunities to further expand my playing card collection.

Since 2019 I’ve been working part-time in the Bodleian Library where I’ve been cataloguing the bequest of the late Donald Welsh, founder of the English Playing Card Society.


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