Yale University, Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library Untitled, Mellon 638

The following texts are taken from volume 1 of: A catalogue of the Cary Collection of Playing Cards in the Yale University Library by William B. Keller. (New Haven: Yale University Library, 1981).



The Trustees of the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, recognizing the value of publishing this record of Melbert B. Cary, Jr.'s collecting achievement, have made it possible for the catalogue to reach its audience. The Yale librarians, grateful to have been partners in the satisfaction of that obligation, are indebted to the Trustees for their generous support.

The Cary Collection of Playing Cards was catalogued during the most significant reassessment of playing card study in the history of the field—a reassessment that has been, and is still being, conducted at the meetings of the Playing Card Society and through its journal. While many new questions of playing card description and interpretation have been raised, many have also been answered, leading to great gains. My personal debt to the members of the Playing Card Society is only partially settled by the publication of this catalogue; I continue to be grateful to a number of its members. In particular, the contribution of Boris Mandrovsky, who offered much help and encouragement, and who died midway through the enterprise, was greater than that of any other. Sylvia Mann, Detlef Hoffmann, and Virginia and Harold Wayland exerted influence through their publications and our common discussions. For general and specific assistance I wish to thank George Beal, Anthony Beale, Terry Belanger, John Berry, E.E Cass, Maurice Collett, Trevor Denning, Margot Dietrich, Michael Dummett, Donald Gallup, Han Janssen, Peter E Kopp, Fritz Koreny, Rudolf von Leyden, Herman W. Liebert, John O.C. McGill’s, Heinz Mackenbach, John B. Podeschi, Wolfgang Suma, Fred Taylor, David Temperley, Catharine D. Wilder, Kakutaro Yamaguchi, and Ben Zsoldos.

Manufacturers' trade catalogues document playing card production and reflect the favored styles of the time; I thank all manufacturers who made available to me their current and retrospective files of catalogues, and for their particular interest and cooperation I acknowledge Heraclio Fournier, S.A., Vitoria, Spain; AG Muller & Cie, Neuhausen am Rheinfall, Switzerland; Wiener Spielkartenfabrik Ferdinand Piatnik & Söhne, Vienna, Austria; United States Playing Card Company, Cincin­nati, Ohio; Vereinigte Altenburger und Stralsunder Spielkartenfabriken AG, Lein­felden, Federal Republic of Germany; Waddingtons Playing Card Company Lim­ited, Leeds, England.

Marjorie G. Wynne, Research Librarian in the Beinecke Rare Book and Manu­script Library, guided me through the first phase of the undertaking; the catalogue is better for her criticism and advice. I was also fortunate in having access to the expertise of the curators of the Beinecke Library collections. Louis L. Martz, Director during my tenure as Cataloguer, provided focus and encouragement, and Stephen L. Peterson, the present Librarian, continued his predecessor's support. Rutherford D. Rogers, University Librarian, and Donald B. Engley, Associate University Librarian, have been patient during a project of extended length, and I express my appreciation to them, to their librarians and staff, and to my colleagues in the Yale Center for British Art and in the Yale University Art Gallery.

A catalogue is made not for the cataloguer but for the user. Kenneth M. Nesheim, Associate Librarian of the Beinecke Library, ensured my awareness of this principle and encouraged me to act upon it. I am under the greatest obligation to him and to my wife, Judith M. Bloomgarden.




The playing cards, card sheets, wood blocks, metal plates, ephemera, and prints acquired by Melbert B. Cary, Jr., and bequeathed to the Yale University Library by his wife, Mary Flagler Cary, form one of the world's distinguished collections of such materials. The purpose of this catalogue is to organize and describe the items and, in so doing, fashion a method of description applicable to any pack of playing cards. While the specialized vocabulary employed to serve this purpose is treated in the Elements of Description and in the Glossary, two components, Standard and Nonstandard, are particularly important to a discussion of Cary's collecting activity and are briefly considered here. Standard playing cards are made for the use of card players in their customary games, for example, Bridge or Poker. The pictorial design of each variety of standard pack is familiar to the players; as any willful, major change in the design disturbs their concentration during play, standard types are manufactured on a continuing basis. In contrast, the designs of nonstandard packs show no continuity—every nonstandard pack represents an original pictorial conception. The history of standard cards is the story of gradual, evolutionary change in the pictorial imagery of playing cards, while the history of nonstandard cards is the record of individual, unrelated accomplishments in card design. Melbert Cary fully realized this distinction. The standard cards of Europe, with their relatives in the Western Hemisphere and in Asia, form the heart of the Collection. Yet some of the greatest achievements in nonstandard card making are represented as well. In fact, standard and nonstandard playing cards, sheets, blocks, and plates are present in approximately equal numbers. It is this alliance of strength and variety which gives the Cary Collection international importance, ranking with the collections of the United States Playing Card Company, the Bibliothéque Nationale, the Deutsches Spielkarten Museum, and the British Museum.


Major American and European Playing Card Collections

The collection of the United States Playing Card Company, on permanent loan to the Cincinnati Art Museum, is the primary repository of cards made in the United States. While this assemblage includes individual foreign rarities—for example, the 1588 pack designed by Jost Amman—its strength is based on extensive holdings of United States standard packs and sheets, embracing examples of packs, aces of spades, jokers, back designs, and packaging material manufactured by the company since 1881. The collection of the Bibliothéque Nationale, comprising former royal collections and augmented by private donations, is unequalled in French playing cards, sheets, and ephemera; it displays the full history of the manufacture and use of playing cards in France. Notable are the packs and sheets designed in the official eighteenth-century styles and the packs deposited since 1880 by B. P. Grimaud, the leading French playing card manufacturer.

The cards in the Deutsches Spielkarten Museum represent the consolidation of the collections of two other playing card museums which, in turn, owe their existence to the initiative of two German playing card manufacturers, the Vereinigte Altenburger und Stralsunder Spielkartenfabriken (V.A.S.S.), and the Bielefelder Spielkartenfabrik of Bielefeld. The former firm established a playing card museum in 1923 in Altenburg, Saxony; however, its extensive holdings—including over six thousand packs and hundreds of blocks and plates—were lost in the aftermath of World War II. The company relocated in Leinfelden, near Stuttgart, in the Federal Republic of Germany, began again in 195° by acquiring the collection of fifteenth- and sixteenth-century cards formed by Martin von Hase over a period of almost thirty years. In 1972 the V.A.S.S. museum purchased the collection of the Biele­felder Spielkartenfabrik. This assemblage had a distinguished history of its own: it was founded in 195° and augmented by the acquisition of the collection belonging to the art historian Werner Jakstein. Other private collections came to the Bielefelder museum in later years—for example, in 1956, the collection of Indian cards formed by Rudolf von Leyden—until it could count in 1965 approximately 3,500 packs, many blocks and plates, and a playing card reference library numbering 970 volumes. The purchase of the Bielefelder collection by V.A.S.S. was I followed in 1974 by the official inauguration of the Deutsches Spielkarten Museum in Leinfel­den. The collection, which is supported by V.A.S.S., is an important resource for the study of playing cards of all periods and places, particularly sixteenth-century cards and sheets, such as the work of the manufacturers Hans Forster of Vienna, and Djerg Zaunberger of Ulm, seventeenth-century French-suited cards made in Germany, cards of East Asia and India, and twentieth-century German standard cards.

Most traditions of European playing card manufacture are represented in the collections of the British Museum. The foundation is provided by standard cards and sheets produced in sixteenth-century Italy, Germany, and France. Monuments of nonstandard cardmaking, for example, the "Mantegna tarots," cards by Virgil Solis and Jost Amman, Stefano della Bella's Jeu de Géographie,and Giuseppe Maria Mitelli's packs of Tarocchino cards are present, as are the historical packs of late seventeenth-century England, two examples being the Popish Plot, and the Rye House Plot. Lady Charlotte Schreiber's collection came to the Museum in 1895; in addition to such unique items as blocks and plates from Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and Switzerland, the Schreiber gift included a large group of standard cards of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Several varieties of European standard cards are represented, and because each variety is exemplified by packs and sheets produced by different manufacturers in varied geographical locations, the collection offers a wealth of comparative material.

Whereas the holdings of the United States Playing Card Company and the Bibliothéque Nationale are focused on the playing card production of the United States and France, respectively, such national concentration is not found in the collections of the Deutsches Spielkarten Museum or of the British Museum, nor is it characteristic of the Cary Collection. Each of these three collections provides nearly comprehensive coverage of European cards. The Cary and Deutsches Spiel­karten Museum collections also contain indigenous Asiatic cards of real interest, such as the Cary packs of Indian Dasavatara and Ganjifa, and Iranian As Nas cards.


Scope of the Cary Collection

The Cary Collection contains well over 1,000 complete or partial packs of standard playing cards, approximately 200 sheets of standard cards, and about 3° blocks and plates used for, the printing of standard cards. The numerical analysis is roughly the same for nonstandard materials. The Collection contains standard cards from 16 European countries and 6 countries in the Western Hemisphere, as well as nonstan­dard cards from 23 European and 3 Western Hemisphere countries, and its content represents over 500 years of cardmaking. Each standard type is likely to have an abundance of examples. For instance, Cary acquired 30 eighteenth-century packs, or pack fragments, made for use in the Guyenne province in southwestern France, together with multiple packs belonging to the other French standard types of the period. The early history of standard card manufacture is exemplified by the late sixteenth-century sheets of such makers as Hans Bock and Hans Forster of Vienna; Heinrich Hauk, Frankfurt am Main; Andreas Romisch, Augsburg; and Djerg and Palus Zaunberger, Vim. It should be noted that the Collection's standard cards include important monuments of American cardmaking, such as the c. 1870 pack of handpainted cards of tanned hide made by the Apache peoples, and a c. 1790 Anglo-American pack of the Amos Whitney Company, Boston, whose Ace of Spades declares, "Use but don't abuse me. Evil be to him that evil thinks."

Among the unique items in the Cary Collection's nonstandard materials are four c.1500 French wood blocks and fifteenth-century tarots of the Este and Visconti families. Well-known rarities include cards designed in Nürnberg by Hans Leon­hard Schäufelein (c.1535), Virgil Solis (c.1544), and Jost Amman (1588); G. H. Bleich's pack engraved on silver (c.1690); many versions of the sheets Jeu de la Guerre and Jeu des Fortifications; and more recent creations such as A. M. Cassandre's Poker pack published by Hermes in 1948. The Collection contains packs seen rather more often, for example, the German game of Schwarzer Peter, the nineteenth-­century French cartomancy packs Grand Jeu de Mlle Le Normand and Le Petit Oracle des Dames, and the French historical pack Histoire Grecque (c. 1805).

In addition to playing cards, sheets, blocks, and plates, the Collection includes a miscellany of ephemeral material bearing on the manufacture, advertisement, and use of playing cards, for example, a French document of 1789 describing the laws and penalties pertaining to games of chance, rules for the nineteenth-century game Yellow Dwarf, invoices issued by playing card merchants, stencils used to color cards in the early nineteenth century, samples of tax stamps, and wrappers for card packs. A small group of prints on themes derived from playing cards or cardplaying such as the c. 1850 lithograph Origine des cartes à jouer, showing the French court figures and the supposed origin of their names, rounds out the Collection.

The Cary Collection accurately reflects its creator's concerns and interests. Mel­bert Cary wanted to assemble a playing card collection which would represent European standard and nonstandard card manufacture. The depth in standard card types is proof that Cary was interested in—and sensitive to—both the development of imagery on cards intended for everyday use and the imaginative achievements of the designers of nonstandard cards. Cary satisfied the two collecting objectives by concentrating on playing cards made in Western and Central Europe. This impor­tant aspect of Cary's activity is illuminated by his activities as a student, soldier, and businessman.


Melbert B. Cary, Jr. 

Born in New York City on November 28, 1892, Cary attended the Groton School, where he learned to set type, and entered Yale College in the fall of 1912. Cary's course record indicates an aptitude for foreign languages and European history; however, his curriculum consisted mainly of economics and law. He expected to go into manufacturing or exporting after college, but military service intervened. He enrolled in the Yale Reserve Officers Training Corps at the beginning of his senior year and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Tenth Field Artillery Regi­ment, Connecticut National Guard, at the end of the first semester, and promoted to first lieutenant upon graduation in June 1916. In that month President Wilson mobilized the guard for action on the Mexican border. Following this duty, Cary was elevated to captain for service in France as commanding officer of Battery F, 103rd Field Artillery, 26th (Yankee) Division. Returning to New York after the war, Cary established himself in the field of foreign trade management and was, by 1923, division superintendent of foreign sales for the Remington Typewriter Company. That year, he married Mary Harkness Flagler, granddaughter of Henry Morrison Flagler, partner with John D. Rockefeller in the formation of the Standard Oil Company and builder of the Florida East Coast Railway. For the next seventeen years, Cary devoted himself to typography and book design. In the public sphere, he expressed this interest by organizing the Continental Typefounders Association; privately, he manifested it by establishing his own Press of the Woolly Whale.

Cary founded Continental Typefounders in New York in 1925 after making arrangements with several important European typefounders during the previous year. It was his view that American typographers, particularly those concerned with "display" types employed in advertisements, were handicapped by the limited array of typefaces offered by American manufacturers. He considered these faces to have become dull and without charm due to overuse, and so he proposed to offer through Continental Typefounders those typefaces from England, France, Germany, Hol­land, Italy, and Spain which he thought represented the best contemporary Euro­pean design. In order to bring freshness to American typography, Cary emphasized in his promotional literature the selling power of the imported types: not only would they carry the textual message; they would create an attractive visual impression. Cary managed Continental Typefounders for the first year of its existence, then became its president. The firm was successful in the late 'twenties and throughout the 'thirties and 'forties in bringing the achievement of European designers to the attention of American printers, and it was represented by sales agents throughout the United States. While the types imported by Continental Typefounders were, in the main, striking faces meant for advertisement purposes, this did not prevent American printing and publishing houses from using them for books; in fact, Cary's Press of the Woolly Whale permitted him to experiment with paper and with new applications of his imported types in book design.

"Pleasure is all my purpose," said Cary of his Woolly Whale Press, and, its editions were just large enough to accommodate his friends and a few libraries. During its life, the press issued several books and pamphlets as well as a great many ephemeral pieces such as dinner invitations, programs for meetings and theatrical events, stationery, business forms, baggage tags, greeting cards, and message blanks. While every piece was designed and printed with great care—to Cary, the execution of these jobs was cause for private satisfaction—many productions of the press received public and professional recognition. The American Institute of Graphic Arts, (which Cary served as president from 1939 to 1941) was established in 1914 to provide a common meeting ground for typographers, designers, illustra­tors, and printmakers. Beginning in 1923, a committee of the A.LG.A. annually chose fifty books published in America which represented special achievement in design and manufacture. A Woolly Whale imprint was selected for this honor on five occasions between 1929 and 1941: The Vision of Sir Launfal (1929, Eve type), A Christmas Carol (1930, Lutetia), Some Thoughts on the Ornamental MSS. of the Middle Ages (1934, Caslon Old Face), Schnitzelbank (1940, Eve), and The World Must Federate! (1941, Lutetia).Three of these publications were designed by Cary (1929, 1930, 1934), and two by George W. Van Vechten, Jr., (1940, 1941). W. A. Dwiggins (1930), Warren Chappell (1934), and Fritz Kredel (1940) created illustrations for these prize winning books, all of which used typefaces imported by Continental Type­founders. When Kredel wished to leave Germany in the late 'thirties, Cary arranged for him to immigrate to the United States and thereby to continue his work.

Melbert Cary's ability to enlist prominent practitioners of the book arts was proved time and again in the heyday of the Woolly Whale Press. Notable colleagues included the type designers Frederic W. Goudy, whose types Cary handled as agent beginning in 1926, and Jan van Krimpen, the designer of the Lutetia type imported by Continental Typefounders. Cary published Goudy's Story of the Village Type (1933) and himself compiled and published the bibliography of Goudy's Village Press (1938). Cary's stimulation of book designers of the period is demonstrated by the non-Woolly Whale imprints given A.I.G.A. recognition. For example, Conti­nental Typefounders' types were used for the title or text in no fewer than eleven of the Fifty Books of 1936. Included here were books designed by Valenti Angelo (The Sermon on the Mount, Golden Cross Press, Bronxville; title and text set in Lutetia), Edna and Peter Beilenson (The Love Poems of John Donne, Walpole Printing Office at the Peter Pauper Press, New Rochelle; text set in Deberny), Merle Armitage (E. Robert Schmitz, The Capture of Inspiration, E. Weyhe, New York; title set in Kabel), and Edwin and Robert Grabhorn (R.B. Stratton, Life Among the Indians, Grabhorn Press, San Francisco; title and text set in Lutetia).

James Russell Lowell's The Vision of Sir Launfal was the Woolly Whale's first complete book; it was also the first in the series of Christmas books that Cary presented to his friends. It was set in Eve, a typeface designed in 1922 by Rudolf Koch in the famous Schriftgiesserei Gebrüder Klingspor in Offenbach am Main, Germany. Three of the other Woolly Whale books recognized by the A.I.G.A. were set in types designed by Koch, who was a close friend and advisor to Cary until his death in 1934.

While Cary's trips to Europe were undertaken for Continental Typefounders, a good deal of his time must have been spent in seeking out playing cards. In the absence of notes or correspondence bearing on the formation of the Collection, it is impossible to determine with precision the starting point of Cary's collecting activity; however, it is possible to reconstruct it in part by separating the entire body of material into three groups: (I) nonstandard cards and sheets, as well as blocks and plates, of all periods which have long been desired by playing card and print collectors; (2) standard and nonstandard cards and sheets, along with appro­priate ephemera and prints manufactured prior to 1924, the date of Cary's first business trip to Europe; and (3) standard and nonstandard cards and sheets manu­factured between 1924 and 1941, the year of Cary's death.

The first group consists of nonstandard cards designed by renowned artists, for example, the c. 1544 cards engraved by Virgil Solis. These materials have long been coveted by collectors and tend to receive the fullest treatment in the catalogues of major collections. Such cards are executed with great care and frequently have special characteristics—handpainting, gilding, made with straw—which set them apart from other nonstandard cards. The exquisite workmanship appealed to Cary's sense of quality, and he could further appreciate their inventiveness. Moreover, in Cary's time, a playing card collection of consequence was expected to contain a number of these unique or otherwise conspicuous items. As original and novel objects, wood blocks and metal plates belong to this same group. The practical printer in Cary was attracted by the opportunity to "make" playing cards from his own blocks and plates, and he did, in fact, take prints from some of them. It is probable that this group of materials was acquired, beginning in the late 'twenties, at auction, through fine and applied arts dealers, and directly from Europeans who were liquidating private collections.

The second identifiable group within the Cary Collection, the largest, is com­posed of standard and nonstandard cards and sheets, playing card ephemera, and prints. It is reasonable to assume that Cary, who occasionally placed advertisements in journals for older, complete packs, acquired such material during visits to European, particularly German, dealers in antiquities. It is conceivable also that much of it came from collections whose major components were the more exalted cards discussed above. In the 'thirties, playing cards and related ephemera often were found in the estates of persons whose collections focused on other articles, for example, books, manuscripts, prints, paintings and furniture. In part, cards are found in such collections because they represent examples of folk art. This particu­lar collecting field has been strong in Germany and the rest of Western and Central Europe since the "rediscovery" of the art of the masses in the early years of this century.

Standard and nonstandard cards and sheets manufactured during the time of Cary's greatest business and collecting activity, the 'thirties, constitute the third group. Judging from the packs in the Collection, Cary must have gone into innu­merable European tobacco and stationery stores to purchase one or two examples of each pack on display. Many of the nonstandard German packs acquired in this manner were of a political or military nature—such as Reichs-Spiel-Karte, Kaiser Karte, Deutsche Heldenkarte—and, as such, were illustrated in Cary's informative 1937 book War Cards, the ninth in the series of Armistice Day commemorations issued from the Press of the Woolly Whale.

Cary was also interested in alternatives to the standard Anglo-American type, whose court card designs he called "overformalized, thoroughly uninteresting and unattractive." In 1933, he himself printed a pack of cards at the Woolly Whale, The Devil's Bible: 26th Yankee Division Playing Cards, featuring an entirely original series of court figures, and offered these cards to his former artillery-unit comrades in commemoration of the armistice. The standard cards available in Germany in the 'thirties represented several standard pack types, and Cary was careful to acquire for his collection multiple examples of each particular one. He knew that each manufacturer's version of a given standard type would vary only slightly; but, he also knew that the wrappers and cases would vary considerably as each manufacturer competed for the customer's attention.

Melbert Cary guaranteed the intact transferral of his playing cards to succeeding generations: When he died in New York on May 27, 1941, the Collection, with its accompanying reference library, passed to his wife, and she guarded it conscien­tiously for twenty-six years. Mrs. Cary's relationship with Yale University was maintained and strengthened in this period by her friendship with Margaret Rollins and her husband, Carl Purington Rollins, for some three decades Printer to the University. The Cary Collection of Playing Cards became the property of the Yale University Library on the death of Mrs. Cary in 1967. Her will created the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, whose support, as noted, makes possible the publi­cation of this catalogue.


Playing Card Catalogues and Cataloguing Methods

The first great publishing era for catalogues of playing card collections was inaugurated by W. H. Willshire's Descriptive Catalogue of Playing and Other Cards in the British Museum (London,1876; Supplement,1877). This work provided the conceptual foundation for the organization of two later catalogues of the collection of Lady Charlotte Schreiber: Playing Cards of Various Ages and Countries (London, three volumes, 1892, 1893, 1895) and F. O'Donoghue's Catalogue of the collection of Playing Cards bequeathed to the trustees of the British Museum by the late Lady Charlotte Schreiber (London, 1901). These three works, which document the holdings of the British Museum, are similar in presentation. The playing cards and related materials described are arranged according to the countries of manufacture. Within these national groups, "cards for playing" are described before "secondary" or "fanciful" cards. These catalogues, however, do not employ uniform definitions; thus, one cataloguer's "cards for playing" are another's "fanciful" cards. Nevertheless, the recognition of two such groups by the British Museum cataloguers is comparable to the broad division of standard and nonstandard made in the present catalogue.

Although country of manufacture, purpose, and design are the most significant organizational principles in these older catalogues, the order of entries is determined by a variety of kinds of information, including suits, type ("Tarot packs"), pack composition, name and/or location of manufacturer, and date of manufacture. The most general observation ("A complete pack of the ordinary type") may be followed by a specific assertion ("On the deuce of acorns is the Bavarian lion"). The elements used to describe the material are not applied in a consistent manner. For example, a card's corners may be described in one entry but—inexplicably—not in another. These practices sometimes make it difficult to derive the essential data from the description. The prosaic mode, which accommodates too readily such statements as "Four cards from an imperfect set of tarots of the usual type" may lead to confusion. Although this criticism applies to the following other early catalogues, they never­theless contain valuable information: K. A. Bierdimpfl's Die Sammlung der Spiel­karten des baierischen Nationalmuseums (Munich, I 884), A. Essenwein's Katalog der im Germanischen Museum befindlichen Kartenspiele und Spielkarten (Nürnberg, 1886), and the Catalogue of the Collection of Playing Cards of Various Ages and Countries formed by Henry D. Phillips (London, 1903). The descriptions in these works are rarely accompanied by illustrations, except for the three (1892, 1893, 1895) devoted to Lady Schreiber's collection.

Illustrations add considerably to the value of a catalogue. In this connection it is appropriate to cite H. -R. d' Allemagne's extensively illustrated Les cartes à jouer des XIVe au XXe siècle (Paris, 1906), a two-volume historical work remarkable for its presentation of the author's own collection of French playing cards and ephemera. The Collection d'Allemagne became part of the playing card collection of the Bibliothèque Nationale.

Two noteworthy publications of the 19305, entirely different in form and content, witness continued interest in the subject. C. P. Hargrave's History of Playing Cards and a Bibliography of Cards and Gaming (Boston and New York, 1930) is still more frequently cited than any other publication. Hargrave's text is diffuse, undocu­mented, and often inaccurate; however, the work is very useful as an illustrated record of part of the collection of the United States Playing Card Company. By means of halftone reproduction, a large number of important original materials are made available for study and comparison. In contrast, the value of W. L. Schreiber's Die ältesten Spielkarten und die auf das Kartenspiel Bezug habenden Urkunden des 14. und 15. Jahrhunderts (Strasbourg, 1937) is chiefly in its textual content. Schreiber gathers the documentary and material evidence pertaining to the early history of playing cards, discusses the cards within their national categories, and compares the surviving packs to bring out their importance.

Almost thirty years passed before Detlef Hoffmann and Sylvia Mann established the broader relevance of playing cards. As a serious pursuit, the study of these materials extends beyond the concerns of the antiquarian. Hoffmann, with E. Kroppenstedt, affirmed the value of cards as cultural documents in a succession of catalogues of the holdings of the Deutsches Spielkarten Museum. Commencing in 1966 with Französische Spielkarten des XX. Jahrhunderts, the series includes Don Quijote, Pelikan, Vitzliputzli: Tarocke mit französischen Farben (1967); Die Cotta'schen Spielkarten-Almanache 1805-1811 (1968); Inventar-Katalog der Spielkartensammlung des Stadtmuseums Linz (the record of an exhibition held at the Deutsches Spielkarten Museum, 1969); and Wahrsagekarten: Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte des Okkultismus (1972). Associated with these publications are Hoffmann's Spielkartensammlung Piatnik: Eine Auswahl (1970) and Spielkarten: Inventarkatalog der Spielkarten­sammlung des Historischen Museums Frankfurt am Main (1972). While these cata­logues differ in thematic content and plan, their cataloguing method is uniform and consistently applied. The descriptions themselves are divided into two sections: the first part presents the pack's basic information such as title, manufacturer, date of manufacture, place, composition, dimensions, and process. Each element is dis­tinct, for example, Technik: Lithographie (Process: Lithography). The entry then provides commentary on particular characteristics of the pack or points out relation­ships with other packs illustrated or discussed in the playing card literature. Most, if not all, entries are illustrated. The following, subsequent catalogues have used these works as models: Graphische Sammlung Albertina, Spielkarten: ihre Kunst und Geschichte in Mitteleuropa (1974); Museum Willet-Holthuysen, In de kaart gekeken: Europese speelkaarten van de 15de eeuw tot heden (1976); R. v. Leyden, Indische Spielkarten: Inventarkatalog der indischen Sammlung des Deutschen Spielkar­ten-Museums (1977). The present catalogue is no exception, for the format adopted applies a regular cataloguing method and attempts to be flexible to the demands of the material.

Sylvia Mann's Collecting Playing Cards was published in 1966 and appeared concurrently with the first work of the German series. It made collectors and scholars realize that playing cards, even considering their great variety and number, could be studied in logical groups. For example, packs of cards used within a particular geographical region might share qualities of design, such as the attributes of the king or queen. In many cases these groups of cards may be given names and their traits listed in orderly fashion. For the first time in the playing card literature, Mann provides both names and extensive commentary for these card types. Because Collecting Playing Cards gave encouragement to collectors and opened new areas of inquiry, researchers perceived a need to exchange information on their findings. Collectors' newsletters had been in existence for many years; however, they could not accommodate the new historical approach to the subject proposed by Hoffmann and Mann.

Discussion among British collectors resulted in the formation of the Playing Card Society, and Sylvia Mann was elected president. The inaugural meeting was held on September 9, 1972, at the University of East Anglia in Norwich. The society's principal aim, "to promote the serious study of the history of playing cards, both ancient and modern" was highlighted in the first issue of The Playing Card Society Journal by the publication of a letter from Joan McEwen, an American collector (Journal I, I (August 1972), 10). McEwen, referring to the international character of the Society's membership, pointed out the need for standardization of the terminol­ogy used to describe playing cards. This question was raised at the Norwich convention, and the ensuing discussion was continued in the second issue of the Journal by Boris Mandrovsky who pressed for the adoption of terminology and classification based on the distinction between standard and nonstandard playing cards (Journal I, 2 (November 1972), 2, 3). In later issues of the Journal, Society members wrestled with the problem of defining "standard" and "nonstandard" (I, 3 (February 1973),13,14; 1,4 (May 1973), 13, 14; and 2, I (August 1973),18,19). Other problems addressed included the proper description of court cards, indices, ranks, and suit systems.

The agreements reached at a meeting held in Rye on August 24-27, 1973, yielded a number of theoretical standard meanings for terms which could be tested by application to actual playing card cataloguing situations (journal 2, 2 (November 1973), 3, 4). These definitions were collected in a document entitled Conventions of Rye. The Catalogue of the Cary Collection of Playing Cards employs these Conventions in the description of a large and diverse body of material. It was clear at the outset of the project in 1973 that the experience of the Playing Card Society's members in cataloguing their private collections could be relevant to the cataloguing of the Cary Collection. The cataloguer undertook initially a comprehensive review of the liter­ature of playing cards. Then, a brief description of the Collection was placed in the Journal (2, 4 (May 1974), 2, 3), and Society members were sent a questionnaire which consisted of a list of the elements of description contained in the Conventions of Rye, supplemented by additional terms used in published playing card catalogues and judged effective in recording the content of a pack. Each descriptive element was accompanied by an example of its use. Recipients were asked to gauge the relative importance of each element (no hierarchy of elements was suggested by the structure of the questionnaire) and to comment on its usage in cataloguing.

The returned questionnaires indicated that the cataloguing of playing cards was still in the early stages of development. The responses, while confirming the significance for cataloguing of Country of manufacture, Standard or Nonstandard, Suit system, and Type did not yield a consensus about these terms' relative impor­tance. Moreover, the respondents did not take into consideration these elements' potential as instruments for organizing collections of playing cards. The present catalogue is unique among such works because it recognizes and utilizes the natural relationship among these four elements.

This hierarchy of elements is not used in any of the pioneering publications of the past decade and a half. Mann did give names to families of playing cards and, by suggesting cataloguing terminology, made possible the systematic organization and description of most traditions of card manufacture and use; and Hoffmann, working in parallel with Mann, exhibited in his catalogues the first uniform application of a cataloguing method to playing cards and related materials such as wrappers. But­

the entries in these catalogues do not always appear to be in any order; in fact, it was not Hoffmann's object to apply an overall organization scheme. His catalogues usually record and describe playing card collections according to theme, such as French-suited tarots, fortune telling cards, or Cotta playing card almanacks, where organization presents little problem. In contrast, Hoffmann's catalogue of the collection in Frankfurt's Historisches Museum includes a broad range of material. It contains entries for cards representing three suit systems (French, German, and Latin) and several types (such as educational, fortune telling, games), and is separated into large groups according to these categories, but there is no regular organizational principle which rules the entry arrangement within these large groups. Further, the emphasis in each entry is placed not on the item catalogued but on the accompanying, interpretive notes. The purpose of the entries is not fundamentally to describe the playing cards in the Historisches Museum, but to illuminate the commentary and exemplify important developments in the history of European playing cards. Thus the opportunity to order each catalogue entry in conjunction with a comprehensive design remained unrealized.

Building on the accomplishments of Mann and Hoffmann, the Conventions of Rye codified the descriptive terminology. The debate among Playing Card Society members tested and further refined the definitions, and finally, the questionnaire responses verified the pertinence of the proposed cataloguing terminology. The cataloguing format for the Cary Collection is derived from—and is dependent upon—all of these undertakings, but there is one essential difference: in the present catalogue the position of entries is determined by an overall organizational system. This is made possible by arranging the Collection according to Country of manufac­ture, Standard or Nonstandard, Suit system and Type.

If a playing card catalogue is to function, it must fulfill at least two requirements: each entry should record and describe accurately the pictorial and textual qualities which distinguish that particular item from all others. This requirement has been met in the past. The other essential, thus far not met, requires that materials sharing important characteristics be grouped together. Comparison of similar cards clarifies the distinctions between them, and certain characteristics are more important than others, for example, Country of manufacture as opposed to Suit system. The resulting relative hierarchy brings together entries which, in turn, reveal the distinctions among similar materials. While this unique accord between organization and de­scription forms the heart of the present catalogue, the application of the principles extends beyond its content. Any kind of playing card or any type of playing card matter—whether or not it is represented in the Cary Collection—may be identified, described, and organized by reference to the definitions and applications of the elements as they appear in this work.

The Catalogue of the Cary Collection of Playing Cards accommodates playing cards (2,393 catalogue entries—an entry may represent more than one item), sheets of unseparated cards (3°3 entries ), blocks and plates used to print cards (37 entries), playing card ephemera (advertisements, back designs, documents, rules, satires, stencils, work papers, and wrappers: 129 entries ), and prints having playing cards or card playing as themes (10 entries) produced throughout the world over a period exceeding five centuries.* It consists of four volumes. Volumes one and two, the text volumes, contain the catalogue entries, Abbreviations, Sources Consulted in Cataloguing the Collection, a Glossary, and Indices. The Indices provide access to (I) Originators, designers, printers, makers, and sponsors; (2) Dates of manufac­ture; (3) Standard suit systems; (4) Nonstandard suit systems; (5) Tax stamps; (6) Titles; and (7) Types. Volumes three and four, the plate volumes, contain the illustrations for the catalogue entries; each illustration is identified by the appropri­ate catalogue entry number.


*During the cataloguing of the playing cards, new information required a change in the country of manufacture of five catalogue entries. These entries were removed from their positions and reassigned elsewhere. The deleted entries (BEL 34, ENG 10-12, FRA 43) are noted in the catalogue in the following form: BEL 34. Entry cancelled. Furthermore, some playing cards and sheets were omitted from their divisions of the catalogue. These items are treated in two Supplements which appear at the end of the appropriate catalogue divisions. Supplementary entries are identified by an S placed at the end of the catalogue number, thus, ENG 1S.


Text Volumes 

Elements of Description

The elements of description used in cataloguing the Cary Collection are discussed in reference to the sample, hypothetical entry. In the following explana­tory passages, actual catalogue entries are cited in order to clarify concepts or to exemplify the use of elements not represented in the sample entry which appears on the following opening.

Each of the five divisions of the catalogue (Playing Cards, Sheets, Blocks and Plates, Ephemera, and Prints) is subdivided, first, by Country of manufacture, then further subdivided, where applicable, by Standard or Nonstandard, Suit system, and Type. Each Country of manufacture section has a heading—in the sample, United States. A subheading between entries, such as {STANDARD}, FRENCH (a suit system), or Tarot (a type) indicates the beginning of a catalogue subdivi­sion. The main and subheadings appropriate to any particular point in the catalogue appear as running headings across the top of each spread of two pages. Because the main headings and subheadings may change on a single page, the running headings always refer to the final entry on each odd-numbered page. The running headings derived from the sample entry are: (left-hand page) UNITED STATES · STANDARD, and (right-hand page) FRENCH · TAROT. As explained below, the succession of entries within the framework of the main and subheadings is affected by three other descriptive elements, Maker, Date, and Title.

Country of manufacture

The country of manufacture is identified in the main heading and - abbreviated to three letters - in the catalogue number (USA 000). Each item is assigned to a country by evidence obtained from the item itself or by information supplied from playing card catalogues or histories. Where the item catalogued was manufactured for sale in one country and for use in another, as AUS 4, manufactured in Austria for sale and use in India, the country for which it was intended is recorded in the fourth paragraph of the entry. In cases where alterations in national boundaries have changed the political allegiance of the city where the items were made, the city is assigned to the country with which it was associated at the time of the item's manufacture. For example, a c. 1930 pack made in the city of Riga (now part of Russia) is catalogued under Latvia (LAT I).

Standard or Nonstandard

This element serves as a subheading and organizes all entries for playing cards, sheets, blocks, and plates in two groups within each country of manufacture: {STANDARD} and {NONSTANDARD}. The standard group is organized accord­ing to suit systems and, within these, by types. Sheets, being un separated playing cards, also are organized in this way. Ephemera and prints fall outside of these two classifications because their form and purpose are entirely different. Playing card ephemera—stencils, advertisements, card game rules—are associated with the manufacture, distribution, and use of playing cards; playing card prints incorporate cards in their imagery or otherwise derive their subject matter from card playing.

The meaning of standard and nonstandard is drawn from both the design and the intended use of playing cards. There are several standard types, for example, Anglo-American, Mah-jongg, Paris, Saxon. All have a common characteristic: the design of the court cards or, in the case of a Mah-jongg pack, the design of any and all of the cards, is perceived by users as traditional and not subject to willful change. Card players accept each standard type for day-to-day use at home, in the tavern, and wherever they congregate. The characteristics of standard playing cards are con­trolled by the expectations of the players. As radical revisions in design, such as a major alteration in the court figures' costume, disturb their concentration, such changes are avoided by card manufacturers. Over years of production, however, variations in details of court card figures do occur because the design of every standard pack has been copied from a previously existing design of that type, and in the copying, the details of the design may not be precisely reproduced. In fact, such variation, for example, the alteration of the shape of a king's crown, is a natural by­product of the evolution of a standard pack type because standard types have been manufactured by several different individuals or companies over long periods: the "leaf" held by the Jack of Hearts of the Anglo-American standard type was a baton or staff in the cards of this type produced centuries ago.

Standard playing cards are made solely for the use of players of such conventional card games as Bridge, Poker, and Skat. They have no pictorial or textual content which detracts from this purpose. In complete contrast, nonstandard playing cards emphasize unique pictorial and textual content and are not (with exceptions to be discussed below) intended for play. The pictorial information given in a nonstand­ard pack is the product of an artist's imagination: it conforms to no pre-existing model and exhibits none of the evolutionary characteristics of standard cards. The present catalogue identifies several types of nonstandard cards which are discussed in detail in the explanatory section Type and which represent, in my judgment, the major varieties of nonstandard cards and the important themes in the history of nonstandard card production.


Suit system

A suit system is composed of individual suits. Each suit is composed of a number of cards which share an abstract symbol or suit sign. In some cases a suit consists of cards which share a pictorial or textual symbol, such as the Japanese suits of Months or the Chinese suits of Bamboos, Characters and Circles. Cards within suits of named, standard suit systems are both differentiated—aces, court cards, pip cards—and ranked—Ace of Spades, King of Spades, Queen of Spades, Jack of Spades; 10 of Spades, 9 of Spades, 8 of Spades, etc. The composition of suits within unnamed standard suit systems is not based on division into aces, court cards, and pip cards. The named and unnamed standard suit systems are discussed below.

Suit systems are standard or nonstandard. Standard suit systems are found on both standard and nonstandard playing cards, sheets, blocks, and plates. Nonstand­ard suit systems, however, appear exclusively on nonstandard materials. All stan­dard materials use only standard suit systems; some nonstandard materials have no suit systems. The French standard suit system, for example, is an assemblage of suits, namely, Spades, Hearts, Diamonds, Clubs, which have become associated with each other. As the number of games requiring the use of standard-suit-system packs has grown slowly over the centuries, the number of such systems has been limited. From the evidence, the need for new, standard suit systems has not grown since the eighteenth century, and thus their names (or the names of the suits of those systems without names) are useful to the cataloguer in the classification of standard playing cards. These subheadings are located in the catalogue text at the left margin, above the entry: FRENCH in the sample.

Because manufacturers have not employed suit systems consistently in the man­ufacture of nonstandard materials, the continuity found in the manufacture and use of standard cards is absent in the nonstandard group, and suit systems are valueless in organizing such materials. When a suit system has been used on a nonstandard item, however, it is identified at the beginning of the fourth paragraph of the entry, for example, ITA 1○4.

There are sixteen standard suit systems represented in this catalogue. Four have acquired popularly accepted names which refer to the language or peoples of the geographical area of the suit systems' original usage: French (Spades, Hearts, Diamonds, Clubs); German (Hearts, Bells, Acorns, Leaves); Latin (Swords, Ba­tons, Coins, Cups); and Swiss (Shields, Bells, Acorns, Flowers). These systems—­with their standard suits, suit signs, and suit abbreviations—are given in Table I. The twelve unnamed standard suit systems are used on standard Chinese, Indian, Iranian, and Japanese playing cards, and they have not spread beyond the bounda­ries of their countries of origin. It is noted, however, that examples of Chinese cards manufactured in Austria (ADS I) and Germany (GER I) are found in the present catalogue. A standard pack of Mah-jongg cards—for example, CHN 20—contains suits of Bamboos, Characters, and Circles. These suits form a standard suit system for which there is no common name; therefore, the suit names themselves constitute the subheading—BAMBOOS, CHARACTERS, CIRCLES. The unnamed suit systems, with their countries of manufacture, are given in Table II.




Unnamed Standard Suit Systems and Their Types








Coins, Variations



Bamboos, Characters, Circles



Black, White



Coins, Variations



Fish, Characters, Circles



Green, White



Red, Yellow, Green, White



Tens, Solidity, Brightness,




Four Suit


Bamboos, Characters, Circles



Coins, Variations



Elephants, Rams, Water



Buffaloes, Swords, Goats,

Dikpala Ganjifa


Deer, Bulls, Tridents



Matsya, Kurma, Varaha, Nara-



Sinha, Vamana, Parashurama,



Rama, Krishna, Buddha, Kalki



Surukh, Barat, Taj, Safed,



Shamsher, Gulam, Chang, Quimash



Padishah, Bibi, Lion, Lakkat,




As Nas



Hana Fuda



This element, the final organizational subheading, is applicable to standard and nonstandard playing cards, sheets, blocks, and plates and in the sample is given by Tarot. For standard cards, suit systems are subdivided by types: the Anglo­-American type belongs to the French suit system and the Prussian type is part of the German.

Because nonstandard cards do not have a close relationship to gaming, their manufacturers are not bound by the expectations of card players and are free to utilize standard suit systems, nonstandard suit systems, or no suit systems at all. Dondorf's c. 1930 Carte Medicee pack (GER 388) uses the French standard suit system in combination with original court figures; Jost Amman's 1588 pack (GER 493) employs a nonstandard suit system of Books, Wine Cups, Vases, and Ink Balls; and the Botanical Cards of 1822 by F. & R. Lockwood (USA 150) are based on questions and answers instead of suits. Because suit systems are not serviceable for the organization of nonstandard materials, these are grouped according to their respective purposes—Advertisement, Cartomancy, Educational, Game, Histori­cal, Humorous, Original design, and Souvenir. The subheading Type enters directly after the subheading {NONSTANDARD}.

A pack of the standard type using a named standard suit system is identified by the manner in which the royal or military court card figures are pictured and, occasionally, by the designs on the aces, deuces, or pip cards. Each standard type shows its court figures in different positions. Certain figures are particularly repre­sentative of a given type. The Bavarian type within the German suit system—for example, GER 173-189—is characterized by seated, enthroned kings. The King of Bells of this type, who wears a long robe, also rests his hand on a Bavarian shield, while the Ober of Leaves, in his plumed hat, plays a drum, and the Unter of Acorns, wearing a frock coat, brandishes a sword. Kings mounted on horseback are typical of another type within the German suit system, the Tell/Seasons (HUN 5-12); while standing kings appear on Neapolitan packs of the Latin/Italo-Spanish suit system (ITA 69-75).

In contrast, standard packs using unnamed standard suit systems have neither court cards, aces, nor pip cards. For example, each suit of Bamboos, Characters, and Circles in the Chinese Mah-jongg packs (CHN 20-23) consists of nine cards of ascending value. These cards are not grouped into divisions comparable to aces, court cards, or pip cards; each card within a suit carries the appropriate number of suit signs, namely, 1-9 Bamboos, Characters, or Circles, and is equally indicative of the standard nature of the suit and the pack.

The survival and distribution of standard types using both named and unnamed standard suit systems is contingent on the popularity of the games for which they are used. Bridge, which is always played with packs of the Anglo-American standard type - which uses the French standard suit system - probably originated in England. And the antecedents of Bridge, such as Whist, were played with cards of the primitive Anglo-American type. The enthusiasm throughout the world for Bridge has made the Anglo-American pack the most widely recognized standard type, yet this is only one of hundreds of games which can be played using this particular type.

The worldwide prevalence of standard types using named standard suit systems is due to a similar versatility. Exceptions are the standard types Aluette (FRA 170­180, Latin/Italo-Spanish suit system), Trappola (GER 270-279, Latin/Italian suit system), and Jass (SWI 19-22, Swiss suit system), where the name of the game also serves as the name of the type. The example of Jass shows distinctly the importance of games to the survival of standard types. The great majority of Swiss-made standard packs represented in this catalogue are French- and Latin/Italian-suited types which have been manufactured in many other European countries as well. In contrast, the four catalogue entries SWI 19-22 devoted to Swiss-suited cards are all packs of the Jass type. Jass is the Swiss national game, and its popularity assures the continued availability of Swiss-suited cards. Jass, therefore, is more akin to the standard types which employ unnamed standard suit systems. Each of these types of packs is used for only one game, native to the area of its origin. For example, the standard type Ganjifa (IND 7-14), the name of a game played only in certain parts of India, uses an unnamed standard suit system.

I have cited the evolutionary nature of standard cards; the variation among such packs is entirely pictorial. For example, one of the characteristics of the standard type A (AUS 7-20) is the elongation of the king's crown to the upper border of the card. Some packs of type A, such as AUS 7 and 10, have kings whose crowns do not extend in this manner, yet these variants nevertheless conform substantially to the definition of standard type A. The variation between packs of standard types with unnamed standard suit systems is pictorial or textual in nature. Pictorial variation is noted in certain Iranian As Nas packs, for example IRA 12. Each of the five suits of Padishah, Bibi, Lion, Lakkat, and Sarbaz has a characteristic background color. These colors are changed in the variant pack: Padishah shows yellow instead of green; Bibi, red instead of yellow; and Lakkat, green instead of red. Chinese Mah­jongg packs exhibit textual variation. For example, each card of Mah-jongg pack CHN 20 is stamped with an arabic numeral. Other Mah-jongg packs, such as CHN 22, have no such numerals. I have assigned variant packs to the types with which they are associated; the individual characteristics are noted in the fourth paragraph of the catalogue entry.

To organize the nonstandard playing cards and other materials into coherent groups, I have arbitrarily assigned them to the following recognized types: Adver­tisement, Cartomancy, Educational, Game, Historical, Humorous, Original de­sign, and Souvenir. It would be possible to subdivide each of these types into more specific topics, for example, Educational into Alphabet, Arithmetic, Spelling, etc.; however, the limited number of nonstandard types used in the present catalogue adequately represents the main motives of such card production: to publicize, teach, entertain, and fascinate. Packs of a given nonstandard type may differ in several respects, but each pack has in common with the others of its type the same essential purpose. It should be noted that with the exception of the Game type, packs belonging to these types are not primarily intended for play: most nonstandard packs, even if they use standard suit systems, are simply collections of pictorial images or textual passages.



While manufacturers began to realize the advertising potential of playing cards toward the end of the nineteenth century, most examples of this type date from the twentieth. Commercial messages may be incorporated into the front or back of the card. The New York firm of Moore & Calvi issued c.I885 a color pin-up pack (USA 99) which exhorted viewers to "smoke and chew Hard-a-Port Cut Plug”tobacco. This pack utilized the standard French suit system though it was completely dominated by the pin-ups, one of which appeared on the front of each card. Each card's suit and rank were indicated only by the index, appropriate suit sign and letter or numeral, in the corner. Another pack of this type, the c.I935 Card-O Airplanes (USA 98), was included with packs of Card-O chewing gum and consisted entirely of photographs and descriptions of aircraft from the United States, Russia, France, and other countries. The cards carried no suits and functioned only as advertisements for the gum.



The first playing cards used for fortune telling were simply standard ones read in conjunction with the c. 1505 Mainz Kartenlosbuch (literally, card-fortune book). This work is the earliest surviving printed evidence linking playing cards with carto­mancy. Cards made specifically for divination first appeared in the seventeenth century, with the English c. 1670 Fortune-telling Cards. John Lenthall's c. 1717 edition of this pack is part if the Cary Collection (ENG 36). The Fortune-telling Cards use the standard French suit system in a pack of fifty-two cards. The aces and court cards bear zodiacal signs and images of historical and mythical figures such as Ptolemy and Merlin; the actual fortunes are listed on the pip cards. The eighteenth century witnessed Court de Gébelin's mystical interpretation, Le monde primitif (Paris, 1773), of the Latin/Italian-suited tarot. Gébelin saw the standard trumps of the tarot as hieroglyphs and thus gave birth to the customary, if entirely inaccurate, identification of the tarot pack with fortune telling. Gébelin's ideas caught the public fancy and gave rise to contrasting occultist readings of the pack, notably that of the barber and wigmaker Alliette, who published under the name Etteilla.

Most packs of the Cartomancy type were made in the nineteenth century during the long aftermath of these controversies. They do not always have suits, nor are they invariably divided into aces, court cards, pip cards, or trumps. The cards of a Cartomancy pack must be spread out and used in a prescribed manner. For example, c.1895 Grimaud's Le Tarot Astrologique (FRA 226) is composed of suits of zodiacal signs, stars, and planets; fortunes are told based on the relationship of the star and planet cards to the zodiacal ones.



These cards are primarily designed for the instruction of children. The card format has long been recognized as a very effective medium for imparting small amounts of factual information, and packs of this type, which usually do not carry suit systems, are frequently composed of sets of questions and responses. Instruc­tion is blended with amusement. In the example of E & R. Lockwood's 1822 Botanical Cards (USA 150), an accompanying booklet contains the questions, and the answers are found on the cards. McLoughlin Brother's 1887 Improved Star Authors (USA 151) consists of thirty-six cards: eighteen bear the portraits of well-known literary personalities such as Whittier and Tennyson; and eighteen, their names and the titles of their major works. The c. 1942 Anma Playing Cards (USA 141) constitutes an example of a suited Educational pack. The purpose of these cards, which are grouped into suits of Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Corps, is to teach the insignia of the armed forces.


Every pack within this type is intended to be used for one specific game only, and the titles of the packs are also the names of these games. An example is the G. A. Simon Novelty Company's 1933 pack Skirmish: The Army and Navy War Game (USA 189), with forty-eight cards divided into two suits of Army and Navy. In contrast with Skirmish, the fifty-two card pack of the 1925 Calendar Playing Cards (USA 166) does contain court cards and pip cards; however, they are arranged according to a suit system of Moons, Suns, Stars, and Globes. While some very popular games, such as Old Maid, have been produced for years by several different card manufacturers, their packs are connected only by the rules of the game and are not at all standard. Each manufacturer has created his own interpretation of the pictorial elements.



These packs derive their themes from political or military events and may exhibit standard or nonstandard suit systems. For example, Dondorf's c. 1930 Carte Medicee (GER 388) evoked the Medici dynasty by using members of this family for the court figures—King of Clubs in Cosimo I—and by illustrating Florentine buildings. The Army and Navy Playing Cards issued by Andrew Dougherty in 1865 (USA 198) commemorated the Civil War by using a suit system of Monitors, Merrimacks, Zouaves, and Drummer Boys as well as court figures drawn from the military ranks of the Union and Confederacy.


These packs normally substitute amusing court figures—perhaps caricatures of public persons—for standard courts. In one such pack appearing in the United States in c. 1892 (USA 206), the court subjects were chosen from the national political scene, with particular emphasis given to the participants in the presidential campaign of that year, Grover Cleveland and Benjamin Harrison. The figures' heads are exaggerated portraits while their costumes follow closely the abstracted patterns of the Anglo-American standard type. Inscriptions such as "Tariff Reform" or "Promise of 40 acres and a mule" appear with the politicians who advocated these policies. The back design adds to the pack's jocularity by reproducing ten satirical drawings of prominent newspaper publishers of the day against a background of the United States Capitol.



These cards are a comparatively recent phenomenon. Typically they are French-­suited packs of fifty-two cards with the usual division of suits into aces, court cards, and pip cards. However, both suit and rank are indicated only by the corner index. In one example, the 1900 Paris lnternationaI Exposition (c.1904, USA 235), every card carries a photograph of a tourist attraction. In another, the cards of the 1914 Florida East Coast Souvenir Playing Cards (USA 248) illustrate a famous travel route. One somewhat different Souvenir pack is M. J. Moriarty's 1916 Movie Souvenir Playing Cards (USA 250), which have a photograph of a movie on each card.

Original design

Packs in this category do not have the topical content of Advertisement, Carto­mancy, Educational, Historical, Humorous, and Souvenir types, nor are they usually intended for play. Playing card manufacturers create Original design packs solely for the interest they generate as curiosities. As the market for these cards consists of a relatively small group of enthusiasts and a much larger body of desultory collectors, the manufacturer must attract the customer by emphasizing his product's unique qualities. This can be done by utilizing the familiar framework of a standard suit system and altering in a drastic manner the pictorial design of the court figures. For example, the 1967 pack designed by Salvador Dali (FRA 353) uses the French standard suit system; however, his court figures have faces com­posed of odds and ends of bones, eyes, numbers, ships, and birds. Another Original design pack, made in Denmark about 1958 (DEN 3), was designed to be used by persons with weak eyesight; the images of the kings, queens, and jacks were replaced by parallelograms, circles, and triangles. A different approach to Original design is seen in Jost Amman's 1588 pack (GER 493), which exhibits a completely original suit system of Books, Wine Cups, Vases, and Ink Balls joined with new court figures of musicians, dancing peasant couples, and soldiers.

Inevitably, the Original design type functions as the repository for all nonstand­ard materials which cannot be assigned to one of the other types. Nonstandard materials do not always fit easily within the boundaries of the types employed in this catalogue. In fact, many—if not most—packs bear characteristics of more than one type, and the cataloguer must decide which most accurately reflects the pack's purpose. For instance the 1933 Devil's Bible: 26th Yankee Division Playing Cards (USA 217), by Melbert B. Cary, Jr., has been catalogued as a pack of Original design yet its title alludes to a famous fighting unit of the First World War and consequently, it could be argued that the pack is of the Historical type. However, the nurse and soldier court figures exist independently as original pictorial designs, and their meaning is not derived from an historical context.

Standard and nonstandard types are indexed in the Index of Types.

Catalogue number

Every entry commences with a catalogue number - in the sample, USA 000. This consists of a three-letter abbreviation of the country of manufacture, a descrip­tive term (if required), and a sequential number. The catalogue entries are num­bered as follows: each new country in the catalogue division for playing cards begins a new sequence: AUS 1—AUS 255, BEL 1—BEL 46, FRA 1—401, GER 1—GER 640, etc. In contrast, sheets are numbered in only one sequence and the word sheet appears between the country of manufacture abbreviation and the number: AUS sheet 1—AUS sheet 118, BEL sheet 119, BEL sheet 120, CHN sheet 121, CZE sheet 122, etc. Blocks and plates are grouped together and organized in the same manner as playing cards. Each country begins a new sequence: AUS block 1, FRA block 1—FRA block 5, FRA plate 6, FRA block 7—FRA block 12, FRA plate 13, FRA plate 14, FRA block 15, FRA block 16, GER block 1—GER block 9, etc. Ephemera are also numbered in one sequence: AUS wrapper 1, AUS back design 2, AUS back design 3, AUS wrapper 4, AUS document 5 . . . BEL wrapper 29, ENG wrapper 30, ENG document 31, etc. Prints are numbered according to country with each country beginning a new sequence: ENG print 1, ENG print 2, FRA print 1—FRA print 5, GER print 1, HOL print 1, etc.



Located immediately following the catalogue number, this element applies to all entries in the catalogue, and within a standard or nonstandard type, catalogue entries are listed alphabetically by maker.

The maker is the individual or institution responsible for the item's manufacture and distribution; in the sample entry it is the American Playing Card Company, 34 South Street, Chicago. The origin, design, and printing of a pack are often the maker's responsibility as well. When the maker's name and location are not found on the catalogued item itself, which is rare, the information is derived from playing card histories or from catalogues of other collections. Establishing the maker's identity is not always possible, but one can often determine his geographical location from the printed matter which appears on the cards. For example, many Trappola packs (e.g., GER 270-279) include cards with inscriptions referring to the location of manufacture. Such is the case in the sample catalogue entry: the Ace of Hearts bears printed matter which states that the pack was made in the United States, in Chicago. If a street address is available, it is entered in the native language after the maker's name. When names of cities, towns, and regions have changed according to political conditions—St. Petersburg became Petrograd, which in turn became Leningrad—the name used is that in effect at the time of the item's manufacture. The geographical names are anglicized (Prague for Praha, Munich for München) in accordance with the revised edition of Webster's Geographical Dictionary (Merriam, Springfield, 1969).

Makers appear in the Index of Originators, Designers, Printers, Makers, and Sponsors.



Situated in the first paragraph of the entry, this element records the date of manufacture and is found in all catalogue entries. The date appears in exact or approximated form. If a catalogue entry contains an exact date, probably it was found incorporated in the design of the catalogued item. Examples would include dated ephemera such as advertisements, documents, or printed rules for games; prints in which a date is part of the design; and a pack, sheet, block, or plate in which a date is part of the design of one or more of its constituent cards. In the sample, there is a manufacturer's card: 1904 | Chicago Manufacture.

When exact dates are found they should be used cautiously, especially in the case of playing card packs, because makers are inclined to continue to manufacture over extended periods packs which bear the same dates as when they were first issued.

As precise dates are therefore not usually available for playing card materials, it is necessary, especially with regard to card packs, to estimate the time of manufacture by considering all of the distinguishing features. Each of these aspects—called, in this catalogue, the elements of description—is important to the dating process and is particularly applicable to packs, sheets, blocks, and plates. For example, if a playing card maker is known to have been in business during a given period, the packs manufactured under his name are datable to that time. Packs printed by the lithographic method cannot have been manufactured before the introduction of that process. Such strategies are particularly important to the dating of standard packs, whose types remain relatively constant in appearance over long periods of time. Nonstandard packs tend to be easier to date because of their thematic, often topical nature. For instance, the souvenir pack devoted to the 1900 Paris International Exposition (USA 235) is easily datable.

Date follows the maker in the catalogue entry. Whereas makers are not always identifiable, a date can be assigned to every catalogued item and is therefore useful as an instrument of arrangement. All catalogue entries for which a maker cannot be determined are presented in order of date at the beginning of each section. To illustrate, as five catalogue entries appearing under the Anglo-American, primitive type (ENG 1-5) do not contain any information about makers, they are ordered chronologically. The entry ENG 6 thus begins the regular arrangement of entries I according to makers. Also, a number of entries in this catalogue describe printed impressions taken comparatively recently from centuries-old wooden blocks. These impressions were printed in the 1930'S by Cary from the blocks in his possession, which now form part of the Cary Collection. Each impression carries a statement describing the nature of its production. For the purpose of cataloguing these recent impressions, and indeed any of the Collection's reproductions of playing card packs, the date of the original is used in the customary position in the first paragraph of the catalogue entry. Thus, the impression taken from the Collection's FRA block 11 is catalogued as FRA wrapper 85 and dated c. 1747. The fact that the impression is a recent one is stated in the fourth paragraph of the catalogue entry.

A chronological record of the manufacture of all catalogued items is provided by the Index of Dates.


Originator, Designer, Printer, Sponsor

These descriptive elements are placed after the date and may be found in many of the entries in the catalogue, especially playing card entries. The sample lists Printer Henry Stone, Inc., Chicago. The presence of these elements in a given entry depends on evidence obtained from the particular item; often it is not possible to procure such information from external sources. And not every pack has an origi­nator, designer, printer, or sponsor. In fact, only printer and sponsor can apply to entries for both standard and nonstandard cards. Standard card types have no originator because they are evolutionary in nature, and the design of standard types cannot be attributed to any individual organization. As nonstandard cards are produced from designs which, ideally, have an ascertainable origin, catalogue entries for these materials can list the originator and designer, as well as the printer and sponsor. In most cases, the maker determines whether the originator, designer, printer, or sponsor shall be identified in his pack of cards. The omission of such information renders a standard pack no less alluring. This is not to suggest that the incorporation of Salvador Dali's name does not increase the appeal of the nonstand­ard pack he designed (FRA 353). With few exceptions, the identification of the principal participants is not of primary concern to card buyers and card makers; however, the cataloguer is obliged to record such information when available. When data are present, they usually appear on an extra card not part of the pack, for example, FRA 353, or on the packaging material.

It should be noted that the individuals or organizations entered under anyone element may have carried out some or all of the other functions as well. The secretive nature of the playing card industry inhibits efforts to determine who performed which task in the making of a pack. Still, the cataloguer applies the definition of the elements to make the most of the data supplied.

The originator is the individual or institution whose idea generates a pack's creation: Robert Morey invented the game of Privilegium (1938, NOR 1). This original idea was given form by the designer, who remains anonymous, and by the maker, Hansens Bogtr. The designer, of course, creates the pictorial imagery. For example, Alban B. Butler, Jr., and Warren Chappell designed the original court cards for the 1933 Devil's Bible, 26th Yankee Division Playing Cards (USA 216, 217, sheet 300), a pack for which Cary acted as originator and the Press of the Woolly Whale as maker. The designer also coordinates the pictorial material with the textual content, if any. For example, Pamela Colman Smith was responsible for both the illustrations and the text on cards of the c. 1920 and c. 1937 cartomantic Tarot packs ENG 37 and ENG 38. The printer reproduces the work of the designer in multiple form. Makers of playing cards are often, but not always, their own printers: the United States Playing Card Company is the maker and printer of Bicycle cards (USA 65), whereas A. M. Cassandre designed a 1948 pack (FRA 352) for the Hermes organization, the maker, which was printed by Draeger Frères of Paris. A sponsor of a pack uses it to promote a point of view, an activity, or the commercial sale of a service or product. For instance, the 1953 pack (GER 417) sponsored by the German Social Democratic Party satirized in its court cards the prominent members of the political parties in the Federal Republic of Germany.

Other types of material in the collection on which one or more of these elements may be found are advertisements, documents, and rules bearing the name of the printer; sheets bearing the names of the designer and/or printer; and prints bearing the name of the designer. Originators, designers, printers, and sponsors are indexed in the Index of Originators, Designers, Printers, Makers, and Sponsors.



A title is the name given to the item by its maker. Located in the entry's first paragraph—in the sample, PATRIOTIC PLAYING CARDS—this element may appear in the entries of all the catalogue divisions. Titles of packs of playing cards are found on the cards themselves, for example AUS 152, or on the packaging material, as in the sample entry. Titles of sheets, blocks, and plates occur on the individual cards which constitute these materials. Some kinds of playing card ephemera, such as advertisements, documents, rules, and wrappers, bear titles like Feine Französische Kinder Karten (AUS wrapper 17). Certain prints carry their own titles such as Court Cards, the best to deal with on ENG print 2. Because many materials were never given titles by their makers, and evidence is often lost over time, numerous catalogue entries contain no titles.

All entries devoted to the products of one particular maker are alphabetically ordered by title, which is printed in small capital letters. For example, entries ADS 123 and 124 are part of the nonstandard type Game; both packs were manufactured by Ferdinand Piatnik & Söhne, Vienna. The title of the former is Allerfeinste Quitli­Karten No. 177; that of the latter, Sehr Feine Zifferin-Karten.

Titles of playing cards, sheets, blocks, plates, ephemera, and prints are indexed in the Index of Titles.


In the sample entry this element, 90 x 65 mm., follows the title. Dimensions (height by width; height by width by depth for blocks) in millimeters are found in all catalogue entries. Playing cards are measured from edge to edge. Nonrectangular cards are identified and measured accordingly, for example, circular cards by diameter. Catalogue entries for sheets provide the measurement of one of the sheet's individual cards and then the size of the sheet's full printed area. Measurements for blocks and plates consist of the dimensions of an individual card on the block or plate and the overall dimensions of the block or plate. A measurement of any piece of ephemera reflects the full dimensions of the item, regardless of the extent of the printed surface. Prints, like sheets, are measured according to the actual printed area.

Stance of court cards:

single figure, double figure,

or variable double figure

This descriptive element is found in the first paragraph of the entry and applies to the entries for playing cards as well as to sheets, blocks, and plates. A single, figure court card, exemplified in the c. 1865 Bijou Cards (USA 5), shows full-length, head-to-toe, uninterrupted figures for the king, queen, and jack. A double figure court card, such as in the 1917 Tally-Ho Playing Cards NO.9, (USA 44), is designed to be recognizable whichever end is uppermost: both halves of the card show an identical court figure's head, shoulder, and torso. The 1933 Devil's Bible, 26th Yankee Division Playing Cards (USA 216) display variable double figure court cards. Here, differences in pictorial design or color exist between the two halves. Single and double figure court cards are characteristic of both standard and nonstandard materials, while variable double figure court cards appear exclusively in nonstand­ard packs. A court card of a standard pack cannot depart from the expected design; therefore, no variation between halves of a standard double figure court card is permitted. The variable double figure court card is, however, quite common in nonstandard packs because of the added opportunity for original design.

Court cards were single figure until the early nineteenth century, when it was found that, because of their added recognizability, double figures permitted games to be played faster. Today's standard court cards are mostly double figure—with some single figure types—while nonstandard court cards are single figure, double figure, and variable double figure.


This descriptive element is immediately preceded by the information on the court cards; the sample entry: Double figure, two indices. Indices are combinations of symbols indicating suit and letters or numerals indicating rank which appear in one or more corners of aces, court cards, and pip cards. They are found in many, but not all, catalogue entries for standard and nonstandard playing cards, sheets, blocks, and plates. Indices first appeared in the nineteenth century in response to a demand that the value of cards be more easily recognizable. Before the advent of indices, the player was obliged to examine each entire card in his hand—perhaps ten or more cards—in order to ascertain its suit and rank and only by looking at the whole court figures and their suit signs could he identify his court cards. Indices positioned in one or more corners solved the problem.

The indices for court cards are composed of the appropriate suit sign and a letter indicating the court figure's rank, for example, K for King, Q for Queen, J for Jack.

In a pack employing the German language, the letters are K for König (king), D for Dame (queen), and B for Rube (jack). Indices for aces also consist of the appropriate suit sign and letter, thus A for Ace or, in a German example, A for As(ace). In the section of the third paragraph of the catalogue entry devoted to aces and court cards, the letter parts of indices for foreign language cards are given their full names along with English-language equivalents.



In the sample entry this element—Color lithography, surface polished—is found between the information regarding court cards and indices, and the data describing the back of the item. The manufacturing process is identified in every catalogue entry, although it is rarely supplied by the makers because production techniques, especially those related to playing cards, tend to be business secrets. The identification of the manufacturing process is, therefore, left to the cataloguer's judgment.

Playing cards and sheets have been produced by hand processes, such as painting, drawing with pen and ink, and printing processes, most frequently woodcut, engraving on metal plates, photoengraving or photo-offset color lithography. The earliest nonstandard cards, which date from the second quarter of the fifteenth century, were handpainted, while standard cards of that time were undoubtedly printed from inked wooden blocks and colored by stencils. Standard and nonstand­ard cards and sheets were printed from wood blocks or engraved plates until well into the nineteenth century. Wood blocks are carved and printed in relief; metal plates are engraved and printed in gravure. While it is not difficult to distinguish between the rough, block-printed card and the fine, detailed engraved card, the introduction in the nineteenth century of lithography presents a problem: cards produced by lithography are hard to distinguish from those produced by other printing processes. The problem is further complicated by the finish or surface coating (as indicated in the sample entry) given to a card in order to make it more resistant to wear and to facilitate shuffling. This polish, applied by calendering, obliterates the texture of the printed impression.

Lithographic processes wedded with photography have now completely taken over the playing card industry. In the dominant form, offset printing, the design is first photographically reproduced on a thin flexible plate, and the design on the plate is then transferred to a sheet of card stock which is joined to an opaque sheet. The sheet bearing the back design is then attached to the other two, thus completing the sandwich. This sheet, after calendering, is cut up to form the pack of individual cards. Playing card ephemera are printed lithographically or by letterpress, and the prints in the Cary Collection are printed from both engraved and lithographic plates.



This descriptive element (in the sample: Back panel, red and green: VICTORY) is applicable to the catalogue entries for all playing cards and sheets as well as for some ephemera. In order to highlight this element in the first paragraph of the catalogue entry, the name of the element, Back, appears in the entry. While Chinese, Indian, Iranian, and Japanese cards often do not have back designs, one expects to find them on cards made in the western tradition. The integrity of a game demands that all card backs be identical; yet cards with plain, uncolored backs are likely to be identifiable as they become soiled or otherwise marked. Decorated and/or colored backs solved the problem. Although German cards have had back designs since the sixteenth century (see GER sheet 237), most cards manufactured in Europe ac­quired them on a regular basis only in the last century. The most prevalent back design is the overall linear pattern covering the entire surface. Illustrated backs, frequently bordered with solid-color panels, include such motifs as advertisements, flowers, animals, buildings, etc. Such designs form a collecting field of their own.

As demonstrated in the sample entry, a playing card back is described first by a term indicating its fundamental character (panel), then by its color or colors (red and green), and finally by its printed matter (VICTORY). When necessary, the terms are defined in the Glossary. The element Backis used also to describe relevant designs included in the catalogue division devoted to ephemera.

Borders and Corners

Borders and corners are described following the data concerning the back. The border, occasionally called the frame line, surrounds the image on the front of a playing card and, as such, is part of the card's design. Not all cards are bordered. "Square borders," as in the sample, indicates that the corners of the border are squared off; round borders have rounded-off corners. Some borders are ornamental, carrying designs such as dots or floral motifs and are identified in the entry as decorative borders. Ephemera and prints may have square, round, or decorative borders.

Corners, as a descriptive element, pertains exclusively to the corners of a playing card. Card corners are square or, as in the sample entry, round. Most cards made before c. 1875 had square corners. Round-cornered cards, however, are more durable and have now become the rule. It is probable that some nineteenth-century cards manufactured with square corners were rounded off at a later time in order to prolong their playable life.



This element, which in the entry follows the characteristics of borders and corners, describes one feature of certain packs. Commencing in the nineteenth century, edges of playing cards have been gilt or otherwise provided with a metallic surface, as in the sample, in order to increase resistance to wear. Cards are gilt either along the entire edge or only at the corners. It is assumed that the edges are plain unless otherwise noted.



This is the final descriptive element in the first paragraph of the catalogue entry and appears in some of the entries for playing cards. The sample reads: Wrapper, blue: Patriotic Playing Cards | [eagle]. Thus, the words "Patriotic Playing Cards" are printed on a blue wrapper, in capital and lower-case letters, in conjunction with an image of an eagle. Packaging normally takes the form of a paper wrapper or cardboard box or case. Information printed on a pack's packaging material is of great interest: it may include the standard type, maker, title, and sometimes the back design and number of cards in the pack. All data printed on the packaging are transcribed in this segment of the entry. In addition, taxation marks in the form of rubber or adhesive stamps are frequently applied to packaging. This evidence is present in the third paragraph of the catalogue entry. The packaging material is considered original to the pack unless otherwise stated. Some packs in the Cary collection are now kept in boxes that were manufactured for other cards; in these cases, a notation in the entry states that the packaging is not original.



This element constitutes the second paragraph of the catalogue entry and is applicable to playing cards, sheets, blocks, plates, and some ephemera and prints. The composition element lists aces first, then court cards, pip cards, jokers, trumps, and extra cards. As with the sample entry, most catalogue entries for playing cards consist of descriptions of complete or nearly complete packs. Thus the sample states that the Cary Collection possesses seventy-six cards of a Tarot pack which, according to the definition in the Glossary of French-suited tarot, contains either fifty-four or seventy-eight cards. In this instance it is clear that the complete pack of the type is composed of seventy-eight cards. These cards are divided into four suits and a series of trump cards. Each of the suits (Spades, Hearts, Diamonds, Clubs) consists of

one ace (indicated by the A), four court cards (K, Q, C, J), and nine pip cards (10-2). The series of trumps in the sample entry consists of twenty-one numbered cards and a twenty-second unnumbered card, the Fool. An extra card is included with this pack giving the date and location of the pack's manufacture. The composition element ends with the identification of the missing cards: the Ace of Spades and the trump 4. The missing ace is identified here by its suit and rank. In other catalogue entries, absent cards are designated by rank only, the assumption being that a particular rank is wanting in all the suits. For example, an Italian pack of the Neapolitan type (Latin/ltalo-Spanish suit system) consists of forty cards. Catalogue entry ITA 71, describing such a pack states: 32 of 4° (A, K, C, J, 7-2), lacking 7,6. This indicates that all 7's and 6's—a total of 8 cards—are lacking. If entry ITA 71 had described a complete pack, the element would have read: 4° (A, K, C, J, 7-2). Further, if four identical examples of the pack were part of the Cary Collection, the element would appear this way: Four packs: 4° (A, K, C, J, 7-2). The above examples refer to standard pack types whose complete or ideal composition is known.

Many entries, however, describe fragmentary packs whose complete make-up is not known, for example, the Original design, French-suited SWE 10, for which the composition is 12, K-J. This indicates that twelve cards are present representing king, queen, and jack in each suit. A composition statement 8, K, Q, would signify the presence of the four kings and the four queens of each suit. 8, KS (4), QH (4) indicates four identical Kings of Spades and four identical Queens of Hearts. This last example does not represent a new kind of pack or game; it reflects only how the cards were found at the time of the cataloguing. Catalogue entries for composite packs, which are made up of cards originally belonging to other packs (AVS 50) state: Composite pack, 9, DA (2); VH; 0, VB; K, OA; K, OL. Nine cards are accounted for: two different examples of the Bavarian Daus of Acorns, an Unter of Hearts, an Ober and Unter of Bells, a King and Ober of Acorns, and a King and Ober of Leaves. A composition element 8, 9-2S shows that eight cards are accounted for: the 9 to the 2 of Spades or (in the Latin suit system) the 9 to the 2 of Swords. In order to interpret the composition element, it is often necessary to determine the suit system from the subheading above the entry or from a statement in the fourth paragraph of the entry and then to consult Table I, together with information provided in the section below on Aces, court cards, pip cards, jokers, trumps, extra cards.

These examples of composition statements are applicable not only to playing cards, but also to the sheets, blocks, and plates. The composition element for sheets begins with the number of sheets catalogued in a given entry, if greater than one, as in entry AUS sheet 77: Two sheets, each: 12, K-J. The composition of blocks and plates is presented as in entry AUS block 1: Block: 18, DH, DB; K, 0, UH; K, 0, UB; 10-6H; 1O-6B. This describes a block of Original design, using the German suit system. The composition statement shows eighteen cards: the Daus of Hearts and of Bells, the King, Ober and Unter of Hearts and of Bells, and the 10 to 6 of Hearts and of Bells.

Catalogue entries for ephemera and prints require composition elements only when there are multiple examples of the item (see FRA document 53; ITA print 1).

Aces, court cards, pip cards, jokers, trumps, extra cards

This element is composed of an abbreviation representing a card's rank and suit, a description of any distinguishing feature it may have (color, design, etc.), and/or a transcription of any textual matter. The abbreviation is taken from the following list organized by named standard suit system (consult Table I):

French suit system: Ace (A), King (K), Queen (Q), Cavalier (C), Jack (J)

German suit system: Daus (D), As (A), Banner, King (K), Ober (0), Unter (U)

Latin suit system: Ace (A), King (K), Queen (Q), Cavalier (C), Jack (J)

Swiss suit system: Daus (D), As (A), Banner, King (K), Ober(0), Under (U)

In the sample entry the element describes the Ace of Hearts, King of Hearts, 3 of Diamonds, the trump 3, and the manufacturer's card:

AH: MADE IN U.S.A. | CHICAGO. The Ace of Hearts has the words "Made in U.S.A. Chicago” printed

    on it, in capital letters.

KH: Abraham Lincoln. The King of Hearts has the words "Abraham Lincoln" printed on it, in capital and

    lower-case letters.

3D: AMERICAN PLAYING CARD COMPANY. The 3 of Diamonds has the words "Ameri­can Playing

    Card Company" printed on it in capital letters.

Trump 3: SERVE YOUR COUNTRY! | [soldier]. Trump 3 has the words "Serve your country!" printed on

    it with an image of a soldier.

Manufacturer's card: 1904 | Chicago Manufacture. This card has the words "1904 Chicago Manufacture"

    printed on it, in capital and lower-case letters.



Used to record evidence of taxation, this element—located at the end of the third paragraph—is composed of an abbreviation representing the card's rank and suit, a description of distinguishing features, and/or transcription of any textual matter. Playing cards have long been taxed, though most of the evidence dates from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and refers to the revenue activities of national, regional, and municipal authorities. While it is certain that taxes were levied and paid on many packs which bear no such marks, tax stamps are found on many packs, a few sheets (JAP sheet 290), and a few pieces of ephemera (AUS document 5). They occur as a stamp which has been printed, embossed, or glued on one or more cards of a pack, on its packaging material, or on a band affixed to the packaging. Because they often have dates incorporated into their design, tax stamps are useful in dating relevant materials. Particularly helpful are cancellations of adhesive tax stamps, which almost always include dates. Dates supplied by tax evidence merely suggest approximate times of manufacture because tax stamps may be applied long after the production of a pack. They therefore ought to be used with care and in conjunction with the other data.

Adhesive revenue stamps issued by the United States government are identified by the number found in Scott's Specialized Catalogue of United States Stamps 1971 (New York, 1970), which provides philatelic descriptions and illustrations of United States adhesive revenue stamps as well as their surcharges and cancellations. The Scott number is included in the descriptive element. The sample entry reads: Adhesive (Scott, RF20) on wrapper with cancellation: APCCO | 1904. This indicates that the revenue stamp known in Scott's as RF20 is affixed to the pack's wrapper and was cancelled with the marking "APCCO 1904" in capital letters and numerals.

See the Index of Tax Stamps, which lists catalogue entries according to taxing authorities.

Notes and references

This element may appear as the fourth paragraph in any catalogue entry. It identifies those playing cards, sheets, blocks, and plates manufactured in one country for use in another (AUS 4); identifies those playing cards, sheets, or ephemera which are facsimile reproductions (ENG 94); records variants of standard pack types (BEL 17); and lists standard and nonstandard suit systems employed in nonstandard materials.

The Playing Card Society has given numbers to certain of the standard types represented in this catalogue and has published the numbers (with examples of the types) in various issues of its Journal. As in the sample entry, these numbers are recorded with citations to the appropriate issues of the Journal. This descriptive element is also used to record my comments about any item, and to direct the user to publications which do not necessarily discuss or illustrate the item in the entry, but which were useful in cataloguing it.

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