hist-games: Single player card games in 15th/16th century?

Mckay, Michael michael.mckay at compaq.com
Wed Jul 7 10:04:20 PDT 1999


Unfortunately, most of the "Patience" card games seem to have originated in
the late 18th century, well outside of the period you are interested in.  I
have not heard of a standard single player card game prior to that time.
The closest thing I can think of (standard comment #1, I'm at work and my
references are all at home) is there might be some single player "games"
that included cards as part of the scheme.  

For instance, around 1535 there was a German fortune telling book.  It has
been described to me (I'd love to see copy, but have not to date) as having
48 pages.  There is a "spinner" in the front, or you can use a German card
deck (remember, they only have 48 cards in a typical deck, having dropped
the "one cards") as a random number generator.  Once you have the number
(from spinner or drawing a card from the deck), you open the book to that
page and see what your fortune is.

I'm also aware that England produced card decks (around 1680-1720) that
formed a board game (similar to "The Game of Goose"), but I don't know if
those games could be played as a single player.  There are some excellent
examples of these decks (in uncut sheets) at the London Guildhall Library.
They have also been reproduced (in cut form) by the Guildhall (R. Somerville
carries them: http://www.playing-cards.demon.co.uk/).

I am also sending this message to the Historical Games list, to see if any
of the knowledgeable people there might have better suggestions.

Meanwhile, here is a book recommendation.  Perhaps the best all-in-one
reference is David Parlett's "A History of Card Games" (hardbound version
was known as "The Oxford Guide to Card Games").
8473898-0210850  Although the book just went out of print, but it is fairly
easy to find.  The paperback version went out on "remainder" (that is to
say, it made it's way onto the bargain books shelf throughout the US). 

Michael McKay  (known in the SCA as Seaan McAy)

-----Original Message-----
From: Nia and Tony [mailto:tonia at gartref.u-net.com]
Sent: Wednesday, July 07, 1999 4:35 AM
To: MCKAY_MICHAEL at tandem.com
Subject: card games

Dear Sean McKay,

I've just been looking at your very interesting paper about playing cards on
the website. I'm trying to find out about the history of Patience, or
similar games played by one player only. Specifically, I'm looking for any
one-player card game that might have been played in a middle-income
household in the late 15th/early 16th century in England.

If you can give me any ideas, or point me in the right direction, I'd be
most grateful.


Nia Williams

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