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3:35pm on Thursday, 28th July, 2022:



I mentioned I'd won some playing cards on eBay recently. Here they are:

They're both Bezique decks (no 2-6 in any suit). I don't normally buy these for myself, but it's handy to have some to give away to students I come across who collect playing cards.

The top one is the older of the two, which you can tell because the Queen of Spades is unturned (the spade is in the top-right corner). Its Ace of Spades looks like an Old Frizzle, but doesn't mention the duty (tax). This means it's post-1862. Reynolds made a Bezique (or "Besique") deck in 1863, then remodelled and relaunched it in 1865; it went out of production in 1885. My deck resembles the 1863 one (particularly on the hood of the Queen of Diamonds, which has lace on it from 1865 but not in 1863). I can't find a match for the pattern on the back of my deck, but I'm fairly sure it's the 1863 version.

The lower deck in the picture is by James English, which isn't a well-known manufacturer. It started up around 1867 and finished around 1880. My cards are unindexed, which means they were printed some time 1867-1875, but the Ace of Spades was different 1867-1870. Again, I can't find a match for the pattern on the back, but I'm reasonably confident that these are from 1871-1875.

I can see why James English only lasted 13 years: the Reynolds deck is of a much higher quality.

You can wake up again now.

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