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Whist Pack with Secondary Usage

This pack was produced around 1780 by François-Henry Cadine in Paris. The maker's name is on all court cards.

The cards show the standard Paris pattern. On the shield of the Jack of Clubs are two (blurred) persons as maker's sign. The flower on the Queen of Spades and the cage on the King of Diamonds are marks (filigranes) against tax evasion by illegal copies.

The special feature are the backs: they were originally blank, but were later stencilled with words, parts of words, or punctuation marks. Often there is additionally the corresponding part of speech in handwriting, e.g. pr. poss. fr. for son, that is 'his - French possessive pronoun' (there are also Latin words). Because of these backs the cards are called 'with secondary usage', they were not used for playing, but for something else, possibly as learning aid.

There are more packs made by Cadine with similar backs in other collections -- 52 cards naturally were too few for the intended usage.

During that time, when the backs were blank, playing-cards were often used for other purposes, especially if they were misprinted (rejects, like the cards shown here). In my collection are single cards that were used as filing cards or as piece of paper for notes, and many more usages are known.


© Peter Endebrock, 01 Sep. 2001