hist-games: Early playing card recommendations

SeaanMcAy at aol.com SeaanMcAy at aol.com
Mon Jul 21 11:40:49 PDT 1997


Justin asks:
> has anyone seen *anything* indicating that these sorts of show decks 
> might be SCA period (pre-1600, or at least pre-1650)? 

   I suspect not.  On my recent UK trip, I did a lot of research into early
playing cards.  So far as it is known, these types of cards started c1660.
 "Playing-cards of the World" by John Berry (the London Guildhall Library
catalog) cites 1675 as an approximate date when the English started producing
these types of cards.   
  I actually had a 3 hour discussion with John Berry (who is a guild member
of the "Worshipful Company of Makers of Playing Cards" {WCMPC} as well as the
"International Playing-Card Society" {IPCS}).  I did not take precise notes
during our conversations, but he mentioned the "claimed earliest" deck of
this type was a French Heraldry deck.  The date for this deck was c.1660
(perhaps 1658, but I can't remember exactly).  John was in the process of
chasing down some information about an English deck that perhaps predated the
French Deck (perhaps as early as c1640), but until he does, you probably have
to go with the above dates.  Do note that the French heraldry deck led to
many imitations, such as the "Arms of English Peers" in 1686 and "Arms of the
Scottish Peers" in 1691.

Michael McKay  (known in the SCA as Seaan McAy)

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