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Published January 03, 2024 Updated January 03, 2024

Winstanley Geographical cards

Facsimile of Winstanley’s Geographical cards produced by Harold & Virginia Wayland, 1967.

1967 United Kingdom USA Lenthall Wayland Winstanley Education Facsimiles & Replicas Geography Add to Collection

Published originally in c. 1676 by Henry Winstanley (1644-1703), the painter and engineer who developed an interest in engraving, this is a miniature seventeenth century pocket atlas presented as a pack of playing cards, with notes on the state of geographical exploration of the period. As well as displaying the usual suits, the cards depict various foreign nationalities in their customary dress and views of the capital cities of each. See more

The pack presents views of four continents: Europe (hearts); Africa (spades); Asia (diamonds) and America (clubs), with each card detailing major cities (including Jerusalem, London, Boston, San Salvador, Quebec, Tangier, Moscow, Madrid, Mecca, Rome, Paris and Stockholm), together with geographical and historical information.

The facsimile was produced in a limited edition of 275 packs by Harold & Virginia Wayland from the unique copy held by the Worshipful Company of Makers of Playing Cards, together with the unique leaflet telling the origin of the material and the use of the cards. A book by Virginia Wayland entitled The Winstanley geographical cards was published simultaneously in 1967.

Facsimile edition of Winstanley’s Geographical cards produced by Harold & Virginia Wayland, USA, 1967 Facsimile edition of Winstanley’s Geographical cards produced by Harold & Virginia Wayland, USA, 1967

Above: facsimile edition of Winstanley’s Geographical cards produced by Harold & Virginia Wayland, USA, 1967.

Further References

WCMPC website: Winstanley Geographical cards

Willshire, W. H.: A Descriptive Catalogue of Playing and Other Cards in the British Museum (English 179), Trustees of the British Museum, 1876, reprint 1975.

Eleven original cards can be viewed at the British Museum website: Museum number 2004,1130.55.1-11 • another incomplete pack can be viewed here

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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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