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Published March 02, 2023 Updated March 02, 2023

Soldier’s Deck of Cards

with the sub-title of “Bible reference playing cards”

USA Newt’s Playing Cards Biblical Music Add to Collection

This pack was published by Newt’s Playing Cards, Ohio with the sub-title of “Bible reference playing cards”. The purpose is to tell the story of the well-known song “Deck of Cards”. This was first performed in 1948 by the country musician T. Texas Tyler, and subsequently by many others including Tex Ritter, Max Bygraves and most famously by Wink Martindale. It is the story of a soldier arrested for playing cards in church who then explains to the provost marshal the biblical significance of each card.

Hence aces represent one god; two – the two parts of the bible; three – the Trinity; four – the four Gospels, etc. (see the Wikipedia article for the full explanation). Each of the 52 cards shows a public-domain image from the late 1400s to the early 1900s. There are three wildcards and a bonus card advertising the Bible playing cards from the same publisher. See the box

Soldier’s Deck of Cards published by Newt’s Playing Cards, USA Soldier’s Deck of Cards published by Newt’s Playing Cards, USA

Above: Soldier’s Deck of Cards published by Newt’s Playing Cards, USA.

NOTE: Martindale's rendition of the spoken-word song "Deck of Cards" sold over a million copies in 1959, and also entered the UK Singles Chart in 1963. For a live performance see here. The song was also a UK hit in October 1973 for the entertainer Max Bygraves.

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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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