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Early Standard Playing Cards

early standard playing card

Texan No. 45s 1889

Texan Decks were first printed in 1889 by Russel, Morgan & Co. in Cincinnati. This example shows that by the end of the 19th century, all the elements of the modern standard, including corner side indices and double ends were already in place. These card faces show a pleasing balance of proportion and, as reproductions, make an elegant and attractive playing card. Texan No. 45's »

Early American Standard Playing-Card

Marlboro Texan 1886

Marlboro Texans were produced by Russell, Morgan & Co. They began producing playing cards in 1881 issuing their first brand under the name 'Capitol'. Their venture would later come to be the United States Playing Card Co. This example of Marlboro Texans therefore constitutes an early American standard. Marlboro Texans »

Samuel Hart 1870

Samuel Hart 1870

Samuel Hart began as a stationer in Philadelphia in 1844, and went into manufacturing playing cards in 1849. He was responsible for the introduction of a number of important innovations including rounded corners, double ends and satin finishes. Even though double ended playing cards had been introduced earlier in the century, even as late as the 1870s, single ends were still the norm. Samuel Hart »

Andrew Dougherty 1865

Andrew Dougherty 1865

Andrew Dougherty, The American Card Company, began manufacturing playing cards in 1842 in Brooklyn in what is often described, even by 19th century standards, as a crude workshop. Dougherty persevered and in 1865 issued these, his gold-embossed "Illuminated Great Moguls". Dougherty »

De La Rue, 1834

Thomas De La Rue, 1834

Thomas De La Rue was born in Guernsey in 1793, and at the age of ten was apprenticed to his brother-in-law, a master printer. In 1818 he moved to London and in 1832 set up shop to produce playing cards. De la Rue was instrumental in developing an important step forward in printing technology which accomplished in one pass, the pressing of four colours De la Rue »

English Court Card, 1680

L. Hewson 1680

Early examples of English playing cards are extremely rare. Few specimens have survived and very little is known about the manufacturers. The best known are Hewson from the 17th Century and Blanchard from the 18th Century. This example of early English court cards was made around 1680 by L. Hewson »

Rouen Pattern, 1567

Pierre Maréchal 1567

The patrimony of the English Pattern can clearly be seen in the French Rouen design, an influential pattern in 16th Century Europe. This exquisite example by Pierre Maréchal c. 1567, shows all the original elements of the Rouen pattern, the Kings, Queens and Jacks as they originally appeared. Pierre Maréchal »


Many of the early English Standard playing cards exhibited on this site have been assembled from the collection of Paul Bostock, PlainBacks.com . PlainBacks.com is a celebration of the English playing card as a cultural design icon. If you want to see a comprehensive gallery of early English playing cards, you should go to this site. PlainBacks.com »


International Playing Card Society Decline of the English Court Card.
PlainBacks.com: Extensive gallery of early standard playing cards. Famous American and English makers. Plain Backs is a celebration of the English Court Card as a cultural design icon.
DXPO Playing Cards: Exposé of early and contemporary European Standards.

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

History of Cards

History of Cards »
A Brief History
Theories of Origin
French Regional Patterns
Rouen Pattern
English Pattern
Origin of French Suits

Card Masters of the
19th Centrury

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


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