[KING, Gregory, after].
ENGLISH HERALDIC PLAYING CARDS
Arms of English Peers.[London?, Norfolk and Marshall?,], [c.1688]
32mo. 98 x 65mm. 33 unnumbered ll. 195 half or ¼-page engraved, hand-coloured shields, 4 per page, heightened in silver and gold, 5 blank, last 2 drawn in an early hand, surmounted by crown, coronet or mitre, with French card suit, printed on thin paper, mounted on 32 ll. Edges trimmed, affecting only header, bottom line or card suit (white overpainted on first 20pp.), occasional dust in places, the odd minor paint smudge, a little heavier to 2 shields. A very good copy in contemporary black shagreen, upper corner and head of spine defective, two gun metal clasps, somewhat rubbed.
Very well-preserved, beautifully illuminated late C17 deck of finely engraved heraldic playing cards, exquisitely hand-coloured in gold, red, silver and blue – an ephemeral survival, bound by a contemporary owner to make a handy pocket-size reference book. Based on a design by the genealogist Gregory King, the deck is an English domestic version of Brianville’s ‘Arms of the Sovereigns of Europe’ (Lyons, 1659), which made this genre extremely popular. 3 editions of the present deck are recorded in 1682–88, none in ESTC. The overall structure and design of this pack was adapted, with minimal variations, from the exceedingly scarce 2-leaf plaquette, printed in the same year and entitled ‘The armes (names and highest titles of honour) of all the present nobility of England’ (ESTC R230123). It is attributed, in C18 ms in the Bodleian copy, to the London printers Norfolk & Marshall, and was sold by the bookseller Philip Lea. If the pack reprised this plaquette, the last explanatory card in the broadside, on the ‘Distinction of Houses’ (colours, cadency), was discarded. The mention of the last Villiers to be Duke of Buckingham (d.1687) and of Fitzjames as Duke of Berwick (from 1687) suggest this is the 1688 (third) edition. The 54 cards are bound in order of rank, from the Kings and Queen to the Dukes, Archbishops, Marquises, Earls, Viscounts, Bishops and Barons, numbered 10 to 1. A very scarce specimen of C17 ephemera.Only Texas A&M copy recorded in the US; only Guildhall Library and Bodleian copies in the UK. Not in ESTC.