English Illustrated Playing Cards to 1800
Popish Plot,Geographical Astronomy,
Joseph Moxon and much more

The Horrid Popish Plot - c1678/1680 Horrid Popish Plot Playing Cards

England at this time was extremely anti-catholic and when the tales of plots to kill the King,  Charles II, by Titus Oats were aired, no one sought to validate the background to these assertions probably exasperated by the fact that Parliament was in recess.
Oates had previously been found guilty of perjury and been forced to end a Naval career through an unsavoury incident.
In consequence men were murdered and hung on the word of a man with a truly dubious character.
This pack portrays the events surrounding this period of turmoil and was obviously popular as several editions were printed.
This is the first of those issues so circa 1679/1680 believed to be printed by Robert Walton and sold at the Globe on the north side of St Paul’s Churchyard.
The cards are printed from engraved plates and this set is with the rarer medallion portraits [ on the court cards ] and with a back pattern of hexagonal motifs containing crosses and arrows.

These cards are in Good to Fine condition with no tears or bends, there is the occasional, non-distracting, foxing which is expected with time.

Since there were various editions and changes it is important to confirm this being a complete set of the same issue.

Firstly there is only one edition know with patterned backs and medallion portraits.
Secondly the cards confirm to the descriptions supplied with Willshire’s catalogue.

Oates gave evidence of the ‘plots’ to a Magistrate Sir Edmond Godfrey who one month later was murdered by the conspirators who blamed it on the Catholics and Catholic sympathisers. 
Practically the whole of the spades suit recall these events.

The cards bear no historical sequence in their suit order and one should refer to J R S Whiting’s – A Handful of History for a an accurate chronological order.

References –
Berry’s “Playing Cards of the World” Catalogue of the collection of the Worshipful Company of Makers of Playing Cards and cards owned by the Guildhall Library, City of London.
A descriptive catalogue of Playing and other Cards in the British Museum by William Hughes Willshire.






c 1680 Blome's Heraldry Playing Cards

These Armorial Playing Cards explain the terms used in Heraldry both in text and in graphics.
Heraldic Arms and Shield’s cover The King, Dukes, Esquires etc.

The Three of Clubs includes a dedication by the pack’s author, Ric[hard] Blome.

Designer was Richard Blome and the retailer was Henry Broom at The Gun’ in St. Paul Churchyard [ per title card ].
This is a complete pack of 52/52 plus the Title Card all engraved.
The overall condition is very good with a few minor faults as below.
There are minor pin pricks [ second hand card were hung on thread on news stalls ] through a number of cards, they are certainly non-distracting and can only be seen when held to the light.
Seven of Diamonds – worm route [ pictured ]
Eight of Diamonds – worm route [ pictured ]
Nine of Diamonds – worm route [ pictured ]
Three, Six, Seven and King of Hearts – worm route [ Pictured ]

The title card is distressed on the right hand side and you can judge by the scan – this card rarely accompanies the pack.

REF: blomes_h_11



c1682 Geographical and/or Astronomy Playing Cards sold by Henry Brome

Two edition are known of these very early Geographical Cards by Brome, the first being c1676 and this, second edition, c1682, both being copper engraved.

The difference between the two is that the Jack of Clubs headwear – the original edition the Jack wears a hat with two feathers and in this edition the hat has been engraved as a crown of feathers.

From the book mounted edition held by the British Museum we know the following.

“are to be sold by Henry Brome at Ye Gun in St Paul’s Churchyard, London 1676”

The cards were made “by Tho Poole, first Cardmaker of England

Poole was Master of the Worshipful Company Makers of Playing Cards for the years 1668/1669/1670/1679/1680 [ Information from the excellent work by former Master – John.G.Thorpe “The Makers of Playing Cards of London” ].

The cards were engraved by F.H.van Hove who was born in Haarlem, Holland, c1630 who appears to have worked as a engraver of portraits in London.

Interestingly the card box is Dutch of 17th century.

The cards were advertised as “used for the recreation in all our English Games, so they are useful to all ingenious persons for obtaining a system of universal geography, which, by this contrivance, is rendered pleasant and familiar to all capacities

Brome priced the cards at “One Shilling if plain, two shillings and six pence is gilt and embellished and two shilling if bound in a book.”

Willshire gives the following description “intended to convey geographical information. The greater portion of each piece is occupied by a geographical account of various countries, a systematic classification of which is given in tabular form on the ace of each suit.

These cards have both Roman Numerals in the top right and Arabic Numerals under the suit signs on the upper left. The court cards have a central cartouche depicting Kings, Queens, ethnic groupings and dignitaries of the period. the suit signs are hatched engraving for the black suits and outline pip symbol with colour stencilling. The Kings have a Crown engraved in the top right corner.

The major research on this pack, through it’s many manifestations, was made by Virginia and Howard Wayland.

Condition: This pack contains 51/52 [ lacking 10 Spades ] the cards have been used and played with but they have no bends or corners missing. For a pack of cards over 320 years old we would describe them in good condition. The full scans reveal any distractions which are extremely minor. We don’t often use the definition rare, but we would for these. The box is very good condition.


REF: CIP5294      



Unique offering of Moxon’s book
and John Lenthall’s c1715 Astronomical Playing Cards.

In 1676 Joseph Moxon published a book titled “The use of Astronomical Playing Cards” for “teaching any ordinary Capacity to be acquainted with all the Stars, to know their place in the Heavens, their colour, nature, and bigness; with a Book of their Use” – this is the book on offer.

It also contains and advert for Moxon’s Globes for which he is more well known, he sold his wares in Ludgate Hill ( London ) at ‘the Signe of Atlas’. ( His son, James, who reproduced the book in 1692, sold them in Ye Strand at Ye Signe of the Three Herrings near Charing Cross.)

Moxon published an accompanying pack of engraved playing cards with stencilled suit signs.

This pack on offer is from the c1715 edition by John Lenthall, [ it could be earlier as there is no Tax Stamp which were introduced in 1711 ] which uses the same plates as Moxon, the suit symbols are now additionally engraved on the cards. This is known as pack number 5 from Lenthall’s 1716 Broadside,

This pack contains 51/52 playing cards and lacks the Ace of Clubs of which a digital image is shown in the illustrations.

All the cards are illustrated along with pertinent pictures of the book which is in very good condition. The playing cards are also in very good condition with the very occasional paper shrinkage ( mentioned here solely for completeness ) and the Six of Spades has a small portion missing from the bottom of the card.

The illustrations are in high resolution and have been split over five pages to assist viewing of the pictures. 

Each card has the instruction for viewing that Star or Constellation at the bottom of the card – The day of the month is given on which theconstellation rises at the London Sunset as well as the point of the compass where one should look.

The Yale Library, Cary Collection has a pack of 52 of the same era as these.

Enjoy the illustrations


REF: CIS5450-24



c1720 LOVE CARDS produced by John Lenthall

This full pack of 52/52 Playing Cards bear a tax stamp on the Eight of Diamonds.

The earliest reference to it appeared in The Daily Courant for October 29, 1709.
“This Day is Published A curious Pack of Cards, representing 
the various Intrigues of Love, as well Serious as Comical, the Designs 
being very Elegant, and altogether New, and finely engraven on Copper 
Plates. Price Is. 6d. a Pack”.

Then follows the address of WÃrter/ Lenthall and mention is made of other packs originating with them and which they also offer for sale. 
[ Ref:Virginia and Harold Wayland ]

The engravings are very fine and the LOVE MOTTOES, two line couplets, are both amusing and poignant. 
The majority of the card is comprised of the ‘Love’ scene 
The card value is shown by a miniature card in the upper corners, the court cards being hand coloured.

The cards in a very fine condition with the occasional non-distracting age mark.
These cards are truly delightful to handle as they smoothly pass over each other.
All cards have been scanned to show the character of the subject and the work of the engraver..

Needless to say this is a very rare deck being complete and in this condition.

All cards have been scaned for your enjoyment.

– Lady Schreiber collections donated to the British Museum.
– The Journal of the Playing-Card Society, Vol. 8 , August 1979 – May 1980
Lenthall Pack No. XXIV – VIRGINIA AND HAROLD WAYLAND – LOVE CARDS, or, The Intrigues and Amusements of that Passion merrily displayed.





C1750s or earlier "Forrest Cards" - Playing Cards

48/52 – Small Playing Cards with a named animal or bird on each card (no logic of which were on black or red cards) and small suit card in top left hand corner – fleur de lils between legs of JD and JC – JC has a feather in his hat – cards measure 1.5 by 2.5 inches.

The small playing card measures 7/8 inch by 5/8 inch approximately. The cards are copper engraved. The red suits are printed in red (heart pips are upside down). Courts and black suits printed in black and crudely hand colored. Courts are crude version of English Pattern.

Deck is missing 4 cards: Ace of Spades, King of Clubs, 2 and 10 diamonds.
The cards are lightly used, three with heavy creases but otherwise very good condition.

Lenthall produced a similar styled animal deck during the period 1713 to 1754 – his known decks have birds on red suits and animals on black suits so it seem unlikely he produced this pack himself, however the deck was still being advertised after he went out of business in 1733 and this may have been a version sold during this period and under his name.

A pack similar to this was described in Antiques magazine in 1956 – the ace in that version was designed not to appear to be an ace and so not to required to be taxed – and there is also an example in the Guildhall museum.

Only two packs of the Lenthall cards + possibly three version of this deck are know to exist so it seems likely that there was an appeal to children (although initially they were produced for “Young Gentlemen & Ladys, who are Lovers of Ingenuity”) – these packs were advertised as being sold in three toy shops by 1754

References from The Journal of the Playing Cards Society (IPCS).


REF: CIP3771      




50/?52 (see end of this description) -This deck is interesting and unusual – most cards carry a full length picture of an English monarch – with details of start of reign, duration in years, months and days 

There are 4 cards covering the early period (2-5 H – A Druid, Ancient Briton, Pict, Briton Warrier)

The series then starts at William I and ends with George III – The order is not exactly numerical but can be followed easily using heart, club and diamond suits and spade courts – The spade pip cards are totally different carrying useful information such as alphabet, pence table, multiplication tables etc.

The suit values are shown by a small card in the top left hand corner – full length courts – single figure of an early design – Four cards do not have a picture card on them- these cards can be identified from where they fit into the monarch cycle Ace of Clubs, 10C, 10H, and from content – Ace of Spades.

There is no Ace of Hearts or Ace of Diamonds. There are three known examples of this deck – 2 examples in V&A and one in Worshipful Collection and all these decks are missing these 2 cards, which logically appear to be AD and AH – what these cards would represent is not obvious – so it is possible that this is a 50 card deck – planned to add at a later date for additional monarchs (some of the games of this period did have blank (or advertising spaces that in later editions were completed with George IV and Victoria).

On the V&A version 9D has on it “Willerton’s Toy Shop Bond Street (London)” – On this deck on 9S “Sold at Willertons Toy Shop Bonb street” (sic). Of the 40 personal & royalty cards 7 are uncolored – the rest are hand colored.

The cards are line engraved and in very good condition – the uncolored cards being in better condition – no damage – just odd non-distracting dirty marks caused by use.


REF: CIP3383      




Most probably the second English set of playing cards issued specifically for the purpose of fortune telling, the first being those published by Newman c1690 later published by John Lenthall – his pack number XVIII.

The wording on each card conforms to that found in the work on the oldest cartomancy meanings in English by “Dr. Flamstead’s and Mr. Patridge’s New Fortune-Book containing . . . Their new-invented method of knowing one’s fortune by a pack of cards” published c1729 [ Our thanks to Ross Caldwell for pointing us to this link – https://goo.gl/JzSWR2 ]

We think that these cards were published by S Hooper a Book and Print Publisher of various London addresses during the period 1766 to 1792, Strand, Ludgate Hill, Arundal Street, Dukes Court and Holborn. He is know also for publishing his Conversation Cards.


c1775 Music Playing Cards with Rules for Quadrille [ Dance Cards ]

51 Playing Cards, plus instruction card – lacking 6 diamonds, as in all examples viewed the Ace of Spades just bears a Crown ? Tax avoidance perhaps.

Instruction Card – QUADRILLE without pooling as played at Bath & C.

No information is available as to the makers name but the small court cards are really well crafted and I have scanned a few images of just the courts so you see the fine workmanship.


This is a very rare deck much scarcer than the earlier issue of Music cards ‘Beggars Opera’.

Yale has a complete Deck plus Instruction Card
British Museum has 51/52 cards [ Schreiber Collection ] plus Instruction Card

Condition is very good; the odd part loss of top layer and a couple of paper adhesions – all cards scanned to show condition.

F O’Donoghue 1901 Page 168
No: 78 DANCE MUSIC, c1775 each card containing the music of a contredanse with the value indicated by a miniature card in the upper left hand corner. 

LADY SCHREIBER Collection 1901 Volume 1 Plate 97

Yale University – Carey Collection – English ENG 123

Historic Card Games described by David Parlett
see – http://www.davpar.eu/histocs/quadrill.html


REF: CSA5200   




Published by The Rev John Hunt

Complete 52/52

French Suited Cards – with
Ace of Spades – Asia, Ace of Hearts – Europe, Ace of Diamonds –
The Americas and Ace of Clubs -Africa – each suit describing one continent

The indices KQJ are used as initial letters of Kingdoms, Quarter and Jslands
Values appears within suit sign on pip cards – hearts and diamonds have red border, small stars appears on the border of court card

The cards are undamaged and are in MINT condition.

Great early Geographical interest besides being a deck of playing cards obviously
designed to educate whilst being entertaining. They also seem to have avoided playing card duty.

Not all information on the cards would not be exactly PC these days and
are a wonderful insight into the life and times of the inhabitants


REF: SCG1804_0003    




Complete set of early Fortune Telling Playing Cards

English Fortune Telling pack of c.1800 [ or earlier see 3 ] by an unknown artist / engraver

The use of the 'long S' - see the 2 of Spades - died out at the end of the 18th which could also point to these cards being earlier

Sets of proverbial or motto cards which had been very popular during the late 18th Century well into the 19th Century.

The cards feature a scene with a two line ‘fortune telling’ motto occupying a 6th of the card at the base.
The cards were etched onto a sheet of paper and pasted on to a ‘one’ thickness card stock, they have then been very crudely cut by shears.

Despite being printed after the introduction of an obligation to have a Tax Stamp on one of the cards this deck does not have such a stamping which was not uncommon and they were often passed off as cards for card games and evaded duty.

In this instance it is more likely that these were produced in small quantities and hawked around coffee shops and pubs and sold in haberdasheries and book shops.

Each card is printed in black throughout but see 4

The value is indicated by a miniature playing card in the upper left-hand corner.

Regarding the miniature court cards, the courts used in these non-standard printed cards are not by any normal card-maker. The assumption is that those who made these cards were not classed as card-makers and were not members of the Worshipful Company. This is further underlined by the fact that in this case the traditional figures mostly don’t appear in the right suits and they would not have been mixed up by a proper card-maker.1

A two-line rhyming fortune-telling prophecy is printed along the bottom of each card and they bear some relationship to a book printed in 1793 which list a similar pack of cards individually.

The book is part of the Google Archive and be found as a free PDF download at http://bit.ly/Decrees-of-Fate – the cards are detailed from page 54 onwards 2

1 Research by Ken Lodge
2 Emma contributed the link to the 1793 book
3 Use of Long ‘s’ [ see 2 fpades ] could date the cards to the 18th Century
4 The British Museum has a similar set, which they date to c1820, the Red suits being printed in Red and the Black suits printed in Black


REF: FT-Fate-R_00021    


52 Cards Complete



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