Vintage Playing Cards

Playing cards are believed to have originated in China, according to the English Playing Card Society, spreading west to India, Persia, and then Egypt.Arriving in Europe in the late 1300s, they were immediately banned by both religious and secular authorities, due to their widespread use for gambling.

Gradually society became more open to the idea, as people saw that cards were a bond that united people together. From the 14th century, luxury playing cards were produced in artists’ workshops for discerning collectors.

Around 1842 a French publisher of unknown origin published a dozen cloth-mounted cards for purely decorative purposes, each containing four playing cards (48 in total). We selected 12 for this collection, each featuring a regional map and costume...the perfect conversation piece for card playing enthusiasts!

Reproduced with permission from the David Rumsey Map Collection, David Rumsey Map Center, Stanford Libraries. A portion of the proceeds is donated to the Center in gratitude for its exemplary public service.

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