Thursday, 27 October 2011

"Trentine" ( trent pattern)

Trentine pattern, modanio, 40 cards.
This pattern is the northenmost italin suited pattern.
some delightful features here, like the little dog at the jack of cup's leg.
The tax- stamp for theese cards was not applied on the ace of coins, as was the custom in other parts of the country. instead, it was applied on the blank circle you see between the king of coin's legs.

Triestine pattern

Treistine pattern, Modanio, 40 cards.
This queer looking pattern is closely related to the Venitian pattern, as evidenced by the mottoes on the aces, and the figures on the courts.
the courts have the rather convenient ( at least if you know italian) feature of having labels on them, spelling out the card's rank and suit. for instance, the text on the king of coins reads "RE DE DANARI" - "KING OF COINS" ( lit "money") . handy of you have a bad memory.
see also->

here you can compare the venetian ( top) and treistine ( bottom) cards

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

"lombarde" ( lombardy pattern )

Lombardy pattern by Modanio.
40 cards.
Note the jack of clubs. on his chest is the arms of -  the house of visconte* a serpent busy swallowing a man...
 This pattern also comes in a form with indexes ( the court cards bear their titles in italian, spelled vertically on the corners, and the pips have indexes like those on normal playing cards), called the " lombarde estro"( see


Monday, 24 October 2011

Primera Bolognese ( modanio)

Primera Bolognese by modanio, 40 cards.
this pattern is one of the most interesting patterns. the 'primera' part is the name of an ancient game, known in english as prime....

You minght be wondering how the ace of swords ( 2nd pic, 1st row, 1st from left) came to become this shape. Well, Originally, the sword was a schimitar, (  a curvy sabre) which aquired a eagle's beak at its tip, and grew increasingly curvy, till the extent it looked like a question mark.
when the pattern became double faced, the bottom part of the schimitar was cut off, leaving us only with the curious top.
 Another feature that was lost when the cards became double faced, was the skirts of  the jacks of cups and coins, who were actually female. but, over the years, when this feature became forgotten, the jacks underwent a sort of ... sex change....

Sunday, 23 October 2011

"Trente et quarente" ( modanio)

"Trente et quarente" ( modanio)- 52 c, blanck backs, no jokers or indexes.
Trente et quarente is a gambling game much played in the Italian casinos. it is played with small (8x5 cm) cards , as shown here.
This pattern is known as the "Trente et Quarente pattern" . However, in the famous "all cards on the table" by Sylvia Mann, it is known as the "international pattern" the latter name, is more inconvenient, for it generally refers to the double faced English pattern ( the common "poker "or "bridge " cards)

Saturday, 22 October 2011

"Toscane "(Tuscan pattern)

Tuscan pattern by Modanio. 40 cards.
up till the 1960s there was another relative of this pleasing pattern, also from tuscany, called the "small tuscan " pattern ( Toscane formato piccolo). this pattern, therefore, is known as the "large Tuscan pattern" images of this elegant deck can be found here.--

Friday, 21 October 2011

Spanish Playing cards.

Spanish pattern, 40 cards, La Ducale

The spanish pattern is noted for a feature caled "la pinta"
It is a series of breaks in the black line that frames the card. for the suit of cups, there is one gap.
for the suit of swords, there are two, for batons three, but in cons, line is unbroken
by this feature, the suits may be discerned without looking at the whole card.

Note the jack of coins. in the background , there is a lamb. this feature is getting rarer and rarer.
On the knight of cups, there used to be the phrase "AHI VA!" ( whch means something like "Good heavens!) . the origin of this phrase is unknown.
( my apologies. there has been a mix-up, and the positions of the knights of coins and cups has been transposed.)
see also:
a sardinian copy of a "luxury" 19thc. spanish deck.
a luxury version of this:

"piacentine" ( modanio)

Piacentine pattern , by Modanio.
40 cards.
Pedants consider this deck, despite being used in italy, as "spanish suited"
Well, there are a couple of reasons...
Firstly, compare it with this deck. (the venetian)
Now; note the shapes of the suits of swords and batons.
In the Piacentine, the swords look like daggers, and are placed seprately, as opposed in the Venetian, where the swords look like curved sabers, joining each other at the ends to form a pleasing oval shape
The same occurs with the batons, which, here, look like lumps of wood, and in Ventian, are represented as staves, or rods, and interlace in a trelis fashion.
Now, is it just me, or does the king of coins in this pattern look like the king of diamonds in a bog standard English pattern? ( 3rd image. )

(N.B 2 of coins added for interest. I personaly find the faces on it amusing)
For a deck of this pattern produced by the French maker Grimaud , see

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Genoa pattern ( "genovesi")

Genoa pattern ( "genovesi") by Modanio.
40 cards.
this pattern is actually a belgian pattern in almost everything but name. the only differnce being the shape of the sheild carried by the jack of clubs viz: it having scalloped instead of straight edges.however, on this deck, Modanio seems to have forgotten this feature, so, what we have here is actually a belgian deck, but with 40 cards and no indexes!

see also:


a pretty piece of paste paper:

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Paris pattern ( France Cartes)

This deck is of the paris pattern, and of 32 cards.
this deck is not very interesting, until you compare it with other decks.
try comparing it with ....
A very interesting feature of this deck is the fact that the court cards have names...
                  king               queen            jack
spades      David         Pallas       Hogier
cubs          Alexander  Argine      Lancelot
hearts       charles      Judith       Lahire
diamonds  cesar         Rachel      Hector

Now, to say that the cards actually  represent the people above (something commonly claimed) is just a matter of wishful thinking. the only exception being the king of spades, ( David) carries a harp, an instrument associated with that king.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

"piemontesi" ( piedmont pattern)

 Piedmont pattern by Modanio.
40 cards.
note the decorative borders round the aces.
This pattern retains some hints of the paris pattern. for example, the fan on the queen of clubs.

see also:

Paris pattern , single faced

theese charming cards are from a divination set called "votre destin par les cartes"
 it comes with a bored, with instruction for spreading the cards, & a pair of miniature  decks of cards.
the cards are single faced, and nowhere on them is the mark of any maker, aldough it is printed by Dusserre of paris.

things to note:
I- the fan held on the queen of clubs. this feature disappeared when the pattern became double faced.
II- the little dog on the jack of spades. as above.
III-the king of diamonds is shown in profile, and has a medallion on him with the head of a cock.
IV- this feature is the most interesting one of this pattern, namely, the picture cards are named after,  historical personalities ( viz: david as the king of spades, caesar as that of diamonds, and lancelot as jack of clubs.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Belgian pattern "katja"

Belgian pattern- 55 cards-
This plesant little deck of cards is of the Belgian pattern.
it is almost identical to the paris pattern, save that the parts thta are coloured blue in the former are coloured green in the latter.
the aces are also of particular intererest. they are known as "scenic" aces, for they have a image of a landscape/ scene of some note  on them.  Note the statue of liberty on the ace of Diamonds, and Big ben on the ace of hearts.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Salzburger bild "Einfachdutche"

Salzburg pattern/ "Einfachdutche" ( single german)
This deck is by ASS Altenburger
it is of 36 cards.
some features to note:
- the tens, as usual, have the large romn numeral "X" on them.
- the 6 of bells, with the additional acorn and heart suit marks, on which is written "WELLI"- this card is apparently used as a sort of top trump in local games.
- as with the saxon pattern, we have charming scenes at the bottom of the cards, but they are of a more pastorial nature than the whimsical ones on the saxon patten,
This deck is also made by some Italian makers ( despite that it has german suit symbols) and in decks of 40 cards ( german decks have at most 36 cards, as here)

see also:

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Poetick interlude:

From canto 3 of "the rape of the lock"- Alex. Pope.
this particular passage from the rape of the lock adorns most sources discussing the english pattern of playing-cards 

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

"Trevigiane" (venetian pattern )

the following deck is by Modanio.
it is a deck of 52 cards, which is unusual, because you normally get it in 40-card decks.
Some features to note:
I-the aces carry mottoes- like on the ace of cups"PER UN PUNTO MARTIN PERSE LA CAPPA"- for want of one point, martin lost his cloak-
II-the 2 and 6 of swords carry little pictures in them.
III the jack of swords ( 2nd pic, 1st row, 3rd from left)  carries a severed head- charming....

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Russian playing cards by piatnik

Russian playing cards by piatnik.
52 cards+ 3 jokers.
note the ace of diamonds. it bears an image of a pelican , feeding it's chicks on it's blood.
this act of maternal sacrifice is appopriate when you con sider that in the good old days, a tax was levied on theese cards, for the benifit of the imperial orphanage- sweet....

compare this deck with one produced about 50 years earlier.

Bavarian pattern playing cards ( münchen type)

Bavarian pattern playing cards."kurze scharfe"
by FX schmid
24 cards.
there are two types of bacvarian pattern, the münchen type, and the Stralsund type.
they are very similar, with only very slight diffrences between them, the most obvious being that the ober of acorns has a  round shield on the munchen type, and a pointed one on the Stralsund type
for a münchen type deck, see:

Monday, 10 October 2011

"magyar kártya"

"magyar kártya" by" luxus", commonly known as "william tell" or "seasons pattern"
32 cards.
this deck is another german-suited pattern, but, unlike the other german suited patterns, it mantains the vinegettes on the number cards, E.G - the death of gessler on the 7 of hearts.
note the fact that the kings ride horses. this is unique amongst the german patterns.
the reason why this deck is called the 'tell'pattern is because the ober of acorns( 1st pic, 2nd row, 3rd from lest) is named 'william tell' ( or tell vilmos in hungarian ) . the other coury cards (kings excepting) are also named after characters in the tell legend. the ober of hearts ( 2nd pic, 2nd row, 3rd from left) is named"herman gessler"- tell's arch enemy.
As for the name "seasons pattern"- well, the 4 aces depict the 4 seasons.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

"cuccú " cards

By masenghini.
40 cards, 20 subjects repeated twice,
viz:10 pictures, 10 numbers,
the highest card is numbered 15 (XV in roman numbers) with an owl on it.
there are 2 diffrent "XV" cards in the deck, as you can see with the image.
the pictures stop at XI (11) and then procced to a series of 10 cards, each numbered with a larg roman number, with an identical lakeside secne on each.
note the unusual way of writing "9", as VIIII rather than IX.

the numbers go down to IIII, III, II and I
then, we encounter a card, with the image of a yellow circle in which is the word "NULLA"( zero).
below it, there is a motley crew of subjects, evidently representing negative values like a fool ("MATTO"), a lion, and a bucket


Hanafuda by "angel", "fan" (扇) brand.

48 cards, 1 spare, marked "見本"( sample)

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Prussian pattern cards

These beautiful cards are, sadly, it appears, no longer printed.
from the tax stamp of the ace of hearts (1st picture, topmost row, 5th from left)  was used from 1920-1931*
tthe cards were printed in Altenburg, as you can see from the 7 of bells ( 1st pic, 2nd row, 1st card)
this deck is of 32 cards, printed by lithography
the seven of hearts ( 1st picture, topmost row, 1st from left) has a faint signature on it.
A curious feature of these cards is the fact that they have only been partially double faced.
A curious feature of these cards is the fact that they have only been partially double faced.
Aldough the court cards are properly double faced, the pip cards still have illustrations on their bottom half, but more of views of germany rather than amusing scenes.

Friday, 7 October 2011

"feine quitili karten"

"neccesity is the mother of invention"
the picture you see above you are eight cards from a deck of quittili or quitili or  cards.
this deck is used by central european Jews to avoid religious restrictions regarding the "devil's picture-book"
the deck is of 24 cards, comprising of a dozen values, from 1- 12, indicated by the appopriate roman number.
the 2s and 11s are enclosed in a frame.
the only maker , to my knowledge of this deck, is piatnik of austria.
the game played with them, until relatively recently, remained  a mystery, due to the fact that ( apparently) the only users of these cards were members of the tight-knit Hasadic jewish communtities in new york. however, thanks to the marvel of the internet, the rules of this game emerged on

saxony pattern cards, single vs double faced

The first deck shown is a traditional saxony patter, which is, in my opinion, the prettiest of the decks to come out of Germany.

the suit of bells (2nd picture) is particularly charming.
Note the Peeping Tom on the ace ( top row, 3rd card from left) 
on the 8 of bells ( 3rd pic, 2nd row, first card from the left), there is a depiction of chickens mating.
above them are strung some sausages. nice.....

sadly, this patern is almost extinct right now. if you buy a saxon pattern, today, you would end up with the "double faced "version...

when you compare the pictures, it is easy why this is called the double faced version.
aldough this version is admittedly easier to play with, it has lost some of the  detail, like the little pictures on the bottom of the cards, ( on the eight of bells, there are neither sausages nor trysting chickens) but still, some features remain (like the roman number X on tens, and the peeping tom on the ace of bells)