Odds and quads - 11 July 2013

These Tudor-era playing cards were found in the Muniment Room at Christ’s College, Cambridge, during renovation works in the 1960s and now reside in the College Library

July 11, 2013

Before the advent of woodblock printing, playing cards were hand-painted and so affordable only by the wealthy. During this early period, there were no standardised packs of the kind we know today; the names of the cards, the signs and even the total number in a pack differed from one example to another.

The three “court” cards of royal characters in English packs show figures dressed in costumes like those worn in the court of Henry VII. The knave displayed here is a rare survival of a hand-painted court card from the time of Lady Margaret Beaufort (1443-1509), the mother of Henry VII and, in 1505, the founder of Christ’s College. The other cards date from around 1515. Popular card games in Lady Margaret’s time and throughout the Tudor period included piquet and écarté.

Send suggestions for this series on the treasures, oddities and curiosities owned by universities across the world to matthew.reisz@tsleducation.com

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

James Fryer illustration (27 July 2017)

It is not Luddism to be cautious about destroying an academic publishing industry that has served us well, says Marilyn Deegan

Jeffrey Beall, associate professor and librarian at the University of Colorado Denver

Creator of controversial predatory journals blacklist says some peers are failing to warn of dangers of disreputable publishers

Hand squeezing stress ball
Working 55 hours per week, the loss of research periods, slashed pensions, increased bureaucracy, tiny budgets and declining standards have finally forced Michael Edwards out
Kayaker and jet skiiers

Nazima Kadir’s social circle reveals a range of alternative careers for would-be scholars, and often with better rewards than academia

hole in ground

‘Drastic action’ required to fix multibillion-pound shortfall in Universities Superannuation Scheme, expert warns