The other deck of XVIII century was described by Breitkopf: “this deck has four suits: Ven (civil), Woo (military), Co (science), Juan (àcademy), nine cards each suit. Each card has a corresponding title within this suit. In such a way we have the most important ranks of the civil hierarchy and in particular the most important officers from minor to senior”.
Prunner has distinguished three main elements in the Chinese cards of XVII: literary quotations; toasts and wishes; suits in the form of monetary denomination (from hundred thousands and tens of thousands to hundreds and coins). Later on the officials and toasts disappeared from the cards and only citation and money remained. The most famous Chinese cards are money cards. The value of the card is determined by the denomination of the money cord.
The most ancient Japanese cards were produced from the shells and were intended for literary entertainments of the educated public. The lines from the poems were depicted on the shells. The aim of the game was to correctly combine the shells (to compose a poem). This game was a predecessor of the game called “one hundred poets”. The classical collection of poems of hundred of poets of VII-XIII centuries was presented on these cards in the following manner: one card with an image of the poet, the other one with a line or lines from his poem. The players should properly match the cards.
Their appearance in XVII century is associated with the name of Claude Oronce Fine, who published one of the first decks with coat of arms under the pseudonym of de Brainville in 1660 in Lion: Jeu de Blason, Father Menestrier, who issued the same deck of cards a couple years later, tells about the first unexpected troubles of Fine: some princes were seriously offended that they were depicted as jacks and aces. The cards were confiscated by the magistrate and Fine had to change the pictures. However, soon the author of the deck became very successful and the cards were reissued with new coat of arms. A community of young noblemen called “Armorists” was formed in Naples; they studied coat of arms of numerous noble families. From Naples the idea reached Venice. In 1682 Benedictine, Dom Kasimir Frescott, offered to the Doge of Venice and to the senate Venetian the deck with coat of arms of Venetian noblemen. The supplementary book to the deck said: “Virtue in game or famous Venetians from patrician families”.
Decks of historic gambling cards.
The subject of the pictures on the cards were historical personalities. Depicting of the heroes of the ancient times (Alexander the Great, Caesar, Carl the Great, etc.) as card kings, antique goddesses and great women (Athena, Jeanne d’Arc, Judith and others.) as queens, outstanding brave men (Hector, Decius, Lancelot, etc.) as jacks – became a tradition almost from the very birth of the cards production in Europe. The artists painted the card characters similar to real life modern monarchs, commanders and their ladyloves of their times (Karl VII, Agnes Sorel etc.). For example, in time of the Great French revolution, the monarchs on the cards were replaced with free-thinkers and tyrant fighters: Voltaire, Hannibal, Horace, La Fontaine, Moliere, Rousseau, Saint-Simon. Many cards of great art value were painted by the famous artists and engravers on the order of the high and mighties. So, the cards present a priceless historical material that enables to conduct numerous researches and studies.