hist-games: Re: playing-cards Card History Question

Thierry Depaulis depaulis at club-internet.fr
Thu Mar 11 13:10:34 PST 1999


Michael McKay  (known in the SCA as Seaan McAy)
wrote:

>How are the number cards printed in a French suited playing card pack in the
>time of 1500-1700?  I've read in a number of places that using simple suit
>pips allowed the French to produce cards more economically, but I have not
>seen any details as to the actual method that was used.  This leads me to a
>number of conjectures, and I'd like to know which methods were actually
>used.
>
>1) They used ink on top of one or more stencils (paper or metal with
>appropriate cut-outs).  They either had a single stencil for each suit (easy
>to verify by measuring location of pips in decks by the same manufacturer),
>or a stencil for each number card.

Yes. Cardboard stencils -- called 'patrons' in French -- were used, one per
sheet of cards. Playing cards were printed in sheets of 20 or even 24; each
stencil - one for each colour - matched the whole sheet.

>2) They used the principles of movable type (much like the small cards
>introduced in the 19th century, mentioned by Daf on the playing-card list).

Nooo! Not before the very end of the 19th century.

>3) A hand-held stamp (one for each suit).

No. This would have been much too slow.

>4) Still used wood/copper printing techniques, but it was much more simple
>to produce the printing plates.

No.

Thierry Depaulis
130 rue Lamarck
F - 75018 Paris



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