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History of Playing Cards

A Brief History of Cards

Origin of Playing Cards

Playing Cards have existed for millennia and around them hundreds of games and conventions have been devised. The standard deck comprises 52 cards, in four suits each of thirteen ranks. In the Royal Household are Kings, Queens and Jacks. The English pattern itself derives from a 15th century design that originated in Rouen, France.
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It is not known from where playing cards originated, nor has it been easy to document their introduction to European culture. Playing cards appeared in Europe almost everywhere at once in the latter half of the 14th century. Various explanations have been proposed for their arrival, but none have pieced together the entire story.
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Card Masters of the 19th Century

Lewis I. Cohen Lawrence and Cohen Thomas de la Rue
Samuel Hart Andrew Dougherty Ferdinand Piatnik

French Regional Patterns of the 18th Century

By the beginning of the Eighteenth century, war, and no doubt extravagance, had drained France's national treasury to little more than copper coins in a tin pot. In 1701 a new duty was imposed on playing cards of 18 deniers a deck. In order to collect the new tax, the country was divided into nine manufacturing regions. Each manufacturer was required to submit a design block to the ‘Recettes generales’. It was in this manner that each region was allotted its own design. Read More »

Early Standard Playing Cards

Very little is known about the history of card making in England. However, through a pictorial history of French, English and American patterns it is clear to see the origins of the English Pattern and its patrimony in the French Rouen design.

WhiteKnuckle Standard Playing Cards

This rendition of the English Pattern was recently composed by Brett A. Jones. With reference to the English Pattern and its ancestor, the French Rouen design, conscious decisions were made to preserve the basic foundation of the Deck. Nothing needed to be added that wasn't already there. The idea was to give dimension and expression to the characters of the Royal Household. Each card is a free-hand rendering, finished in meticulous detail and manufactured to a standard expected by serious card players.
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History of Cards

A Brief History
Theories of Origin
French Regional Patterns
Rouen Pattern
Origin of French Suit Symbols

Card Masters of the
18th Centrury

Thomas de la Rue
Lewis I. Cohen
Lawrence & Cohen
Samuel Hart
Andrew Dougherty
Ferdinand Piatnik


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Early Standards
Card Backs

Early Standards

Texan No. 45's
Russel & Morgan 1886
Samuel Hart 1870
A. Dougherty 1865
De La Rue 1834
L. Hewson 1680
Pierre Maréchal 1567

WhiteKnuckle Cards

Card Games
NS Project
Brett A. Jones

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