hist-games: Primero, Trumpe, Saunte, Decoye

Imran Ghory imran at bits.bris.ac.uk
Thu Jan 29 06:45:11 PST 2004

Some quotes that might be useful for people investigating Primero, Trumpe,
Saunte or Decoye,

>From Thomas Nash, "Martins months" (1589),

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They are now in hande to shuffle the Cardes (as ill as they will seeme to
loue them) and to confounde all, to amende their badde games, hauing neuer
a good Carde in their handes, and leauing the auncient game of England
(Trumpe) where euerie coate, and sute are sorted in their degree, are
running to their Ruffe where the greatest sorte of the sute carrieth away
the game: and to their Mawe, where the fiue fingers is a carde of great
strength, and though the King and the Queene bee in the decke; yet the
knaue must commande all and beare the swaie

---End quote---

>From Samuel Rid's "The art of iugling or legerdemaine" (1612),

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A Gamester, after he had bene often times bitten by Cheators, and after
much losse, grew

very suspitious in his play, so that he would not suffer any of the
fitters by to be priuy

to his game, for this the Cheators deuised a new shift, that a woman
should sit close by

him, and by the swift and slowe drawing of her needle, giue a token to the
Cheator what was

the Cosens game.

Other helpes there be, as to set y Cosen vpon the bench, with a great
Looking glasse behinde

him on the wall, wherein the Cheator may alwaies se what Cardes he hath in
his hand, So

that a few ensamples in stead of many that might be rehearsed, this one
conclusion may be

gathered, that whosoeuer is giuen to play, and once sitteth amongst them,
it is great ods

but that he shall rise a looser.

But many there be that liue so continently, that nothing can perswade them
to put a penny in

aduenture, and some againe are so vnskilfull that lacke of cunning forceth
them to forbeare

play: but yet hard it is for any man to fall into their company, but they
will make him

stoope at one game or other: and for this purpose, their first drist and
intent is to seke,

by al meanes possible to vnderstand his nature, and whereunto he is most
inclined: if they

find that he taketh pleasure in y copany of women, the seek they to strike
him, at the

Sacking law: (as they tearme it) and take this alwaies for a rule, that
all the Baudes in

the country be of the Cheaters familiar acquaintance.

Therefore it is not very hard for them at all times to prouide for their
amorous Cosen, a

lewd lecherous Lady to kepe him louing company: then fall they to
banquetting, and

carrowsing and hunting of Tauernes, and much is the cost that this silly
Cosen shall be at

in Iewels and apparrell, otherwise he shall not once get a graunt to haue
a kisse of his

lips: and euer in middle of their conference she layeth in this reason,
for her sake to put

in twenty or thirty crownes in aduenture at Cardes or Dice: you know not
(quoth she) what

may be a womans lucke: if he refuse it, Lord how vnkindely she takes the
matter, and cannot

be reconciled with lesse then a gowne or a kirtle of silke.

But now if these Cheaters perceaue that he estemeth no bruised ware, but
is enamored with

virginity, they haue an ne cast within an houres warning, to make Ione
Siluerpin as good a

maide as if she had neuer come to the stewes: but to let these things
passe, for offending

of chastsares, whose displeasure I would not incurre, for all the cheates
these gamesters

get in a whole yeare. But to our purpose.

There are two sorts of vsing the Cards, the one is in playing (with one or
more) games, as

Primero, Trumpe, Saunte, Decoye, &c.

The other vse of Cardes is to shew feates of Legerdemaine.

Concerning the first, if it be vsed for recreation and not to the
prophaning of Gods holy

name, nor hurt of our bretheren and neighbors, they are to be tollerated:
but now (more is

the pitty) they are not vsed in that fashion as they should be, but much
hurt oft times

ariseth thereof.

Primero now as it is in great vse, so is there much deceite in it, some
play vppon the

prick, some pinch the cardes priuily with their nailes, some turne vp the
corners, same

marke them with fine spots of Iuck, seme there be that trauell into Spaine
and into Italie

to learne fine tricks and quaint conueyances, at cardes and returne home,
and winne much

money with them here in England, but yet at the last they are still
over-reached by some

fine wittes that devise new sleights here at home.

At Trumpe, Saunte, and such other like games, cutting at the nick, is a
great aduantage, so

is cutting by Bumcarde, finely vnder or ouer: stealing the stock or the
discarded Cardes.

At Decoye they drawe twentie hands together and play all vpon assurance
when to winne or

loose, other helpes there be as I haue before set downe, with a looking
glasse and

consederacy: all which and such like, tende to cosoning and hurt of our
brother: But we will

proced with the other vse of Cardes, which tendeth to mirth and recreation
of minde and

which in themselues simply is no hurt, vnles they are abused. In shewing
fea[...]s & Iugling

with cardes the principall poynt consisteth in shuffling them nimbly, and
alwaies keeping

one certen carde either in the bottom or in some knowne place of the
stock, foure or fiue

cardes from it, hereby you shall seeme to worke wonders, for it will be
easie for you to see

or espie one, which though you be perceiued to doe, it will not be
suspected, if you shuffle them well afterwards, and this note I must giue you, That in reseruing the
bottome carde you must alwaies (whilst you shale) keepe him a little before, or a little
behind, all the cardes lying vnderneath him, bestowing him (I say) eyther a little beyond
his fellowes before right ouer the fore finger, or else behinde the rest, so as the
little finger of the left hand may meete with it, which is the ester and the readier, and the
better way: in the beginning of your shuffleing, shuffle as thick as you
can, and in the end throw vppon the stock the nether carde, (with so many
moe at the least as you would haue preserued for any purpose) a little
before or behinde the rest; prouided alwaies that your
fore finger if the pack be laide before, or the little finger if the packlye behinde, creepe
vp to meete with the bottome carde, and not lye betwixt the cardes, and when you feele it,
you may there holde it vntill you haue shuffled ouer the cardes againe, still leauing
your kept carde below being perfect herein, you may doe almost what you list with the
cardes: By this meanes what pack soeuer you make, though it consist of eight, twelue, or twenty
cardes, you may keepe them still together vnseuered next to the nether carde, and yet
shuffle them often to satisfie the curious beholders, as for ensample,
and for breuities sake, to shew you diuers seates vnder one.

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