hist-games: Period Playing cards

Jane & Mark Waks waks at ne.mediaone.net
Tue Dec 19 14:37:09 PST 2000

Lillith wrote:
>         I'd settle for anything before 1600 [1]... would you happen to have some
> links for some post-1450 playing card images, or for construction tips (ie,
>  paper weight to use, etc)?  I've been thinking of doing playing cards as
> my next crafting project, but seem to live in a land where libraries are
> devoid of good research books.

Hmm. In all seriousness, I'd strongly recommend making the effort to
find a copy of Catherine Perry Hargrave's "A History of Playing Cards".
It's a bit old (1930), but was reprinted by Dover in softcover starting
in 1966 and was in print for a fair while, so it's relatively easy to
find used. It has *many* illustrations of playing cards from different
eras (probably over a thousand cards shown), including a number of
SCA-period decks, so it would be well worth your while to hunt down.
That book probably has more useful illustrations than the entire Web put
together at this point...

As for construction info -- I've actually never found any really good
secondary information on the construction of period decks, and the only
primary info I've found is from Willoughby (publication pending), who
says just a sentence or two on the subject as it stands in the 17th

(Basically, he says that they are made of 3-4 pieces of paper pasted
together and smoothed; he also talks about drying them out if they get
"danke", so it sounds like the paste is subject to mildew. Proportions
are 3.5" x 2" for his period -- 1670's -- and the backs are always plain

				-- Justin
				   Who has occasionally contemplated doing a
				     true period deck, but it does look like
				     it'll require a fair amount of work...

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