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In the Stacks: Playing Cards at the Beinecke

One of the most extensive collections of playing cards ever assembled resides at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University.

Known as the Cary Collection, it consists of over 2600 packs of cards, 460 sheets of uncut card papers, and 150 wood blocks for printing cards. The Collection contains standard cards from 16 European countries and 6 countries in the Western Hemisphere, as well as nonstan­dard cards from 23 European and 3 Western Hemisphere countries, and its content represents over 500 years of cardmaking.

The “nonstandard” cards include subjects like:  Advertisement, Carto­mancy, Education, History, Humor, and Souvenir types, many not intended to be played.

Visconti Tarot card ca. 1428-1447, from arguably the oldest tarot card deck still in existence

Here is an introduction to the collection  from Volume 1 of  the 4 volume catalogue of the Cary Collection of Playing Cards in the Yale University Library by William B. Keller. (New Haven: Yale University Library, 1981).

Link to the complete Cary Collection database
Previously on In the Stacks:




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