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DateLecture
11 February 2020THE FASCINATING WORLD OF PLAYING CARDS
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THE FASCINATING WORLD OF PLAYING CARDS Yasha Beresiner Tuesday 11 February 2020

We are all familiar with playing cards but how aware are you that they go back to the 14th Century? There are surviving decks from as early as 1475. The English took  their cards from the French and The Worshipful Company of Makers of Playing Cards is one of the many trade guilds of the City of London that protected the importation of French and other foreign cards into England. The Company was granted its charter in October 1628.

Playing cards become truly interesting when the face of the card deviates from the Standard i.e. when the Kings and/or Queens, for example, are recognisable Monarchs. Thus the potential of a pack of cards as a medium of communication, propaganda or education was not lost on our forefathers. Events in 1678 involving the infamous Dr Titus Oates is represented in a 52 card pack entitled The (Horrid) Popish Plot, the first of several political decks published to capitalise on both the popularity of gaming and the hunger for news and information.

Among the many popular playing card themes are also ‘transformation’ cards in circulation since the start of the 19th century and still challenging the artists of today. The very first and best known series of transformation cards are those by J C Cotta in 1803. 

A fascinating world so many bridge players are not even aware of!