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Published January 14, 2024 Updated January 14, 2024

Old Met playing cards

Old Met playing cards published by the Metropolitan Opera Guild, USA, 1986.

1986 USA Metropolitan Opera Guild Music Theatre Add to Collection

Published in 1986 by the Metropolitan Opera Guild Inc., the aces, court cards and jokers of this pack feature elegant photographs of artists who made their Met debuts at the Old Metropolitan Opera House at Broadway and 39th Street. This building was closed and later demolished in 1967. The Metropolitan Opera, now located at the Lincoln Center, replaced the Old Met in 1966.

An extra card details the name of the artist, the opera and the character played. They are portrayed against a pattern of scrollwork adapted from the wall covering of one of the grand salons located in the Old House. This same pattern also appears on the reverse of the cards.

Old Met playing cards published by the Metropolitan Opera Guild Inc., 1986 Old Met playing cards published by the Metropolitan Opera Guild Inc., 1986 Old Met playing cards published by the Metropolitan Opera Guild Inc., 1986

Above: Old Met playing cards published by the Metropolitan Opera Guild Inc., 1986.

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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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