Hundred Years’ War playing cards on Kickstarter

I love playing cards and I love history. Put them together and my heart grows three sizes that day. Since I’m not likely to get my grubby hands on, say, a gilt silver deck from 1616 that sold at auction for more than a half million dollars four years ago, I have to make do with more modest targets to assuage my covetousness.

Limited edition gold and silver packs of Hundred Years’ War cards printed by the United States Playing Card Company, makers of the classic Bicycle® brand of playing cards, would step very nicely unto the breach, dear friends. SPAAAADE&Co. has launched a Kickstarter project to fund the production of these cards. Their fundraising goal is $20,000. With eight days to go, they’ve raised $14,862. It would be an intense bummer if they got so close but failed to meet the goal, so go pledge now and book your set. One deck of each color is the reward for the $24 level, which you could easily pay for a couple of decks of far less awesome playing cards. Then there are fancier collector’s box sets and bricks with multiple decks and posters and uncut sheets and all kinds of neat rewards at the higher levels.

The art work was designed in collaboration with award-winning illustrator Hanuku and it is as beautiful as it is nerdy. Each color is represented by one of the sides in the Hundred Years’ War. The black suits are the French and the red suits the English. The number card designs are fairly standard, but the face cards, aces and card backs and packs are rich with historical references.

Ace cards are delicately designed using symbols and medieval motifs that represent each dynasty involved in the war.

Court Cards feature the major historic figures of the war. We’ve put real efforts to create a modern interpretation of the medieval costume designs and combine them with traditional court card elements. Court cards depict exceptional details with modern classic features. […]

The back of the deck symbolizes the confrontation of two dynasties.

The Valois fleurs de lys crest faces off against the quartered crest of Edward III where the Plantagenet lions split the shield with the French fleurs de lys. Between them lie two crossed swords.

The face cards are the best. The Queen of Spades is Isabeau of Bavaria, wife of King Charles VI; the Queen of Clubs is none other than Joan of Arc. Okay, so technically she wasn’t a queen, but as a peasant fighter who turned the war around for France and probably the single most recognizable figure of the conflict, she is the perfect icon for the card. On the English side, the Queen of Diamonds is Catherine of Valois, Henry V’s wife, and the Queen of Hearts is Philippa of Hainault, wife of Edward III.

The Kings aren’t identified yet on the Kickstarter page, but if I were to hazard a guess based solely on the design, I’d say the King of Hearts is Edward III and the King of Diamonds Henry V, which would make sense with the Queen pairings as well. If the pairings hold for the Valois side as well, that would make the King of Spades Charles VI and the King of Clubs Charles VII, but they don’t really look like any images of those kings I know of.

The Jacks are badass too. The Jack of Spades is, to my utter delight, Gilles de Rais, Joan of Arc’s comrade in arms, Marshal of France, and convicted serial killer of hundreds of boys. The Jack of Clubs is Étienne de Vignolles, another of Joan’s closest comrades and a fighter of great skill who is the traditional face of the Jack of Hearts in French playing cards. The Jack of Diamonds is Edward, the Black Prince, the hugely successful military leader son of Edward III and Philippa of Hainault. The Jack of Hearts is Henry of Grosmont, 1st Duke of Lancaster, one of Edward III’s most trusted lieutenants.

Irresistible, is it not? Spread the word and let’s get this thing funded.

 

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3 Comments »

Comment by Gery de Pierpont
2014-06-24 22:13:22

Nice initiative. I prefer cards designed with historical figures as well. Do you know this French historical cards craft shop: http://www.carte-a-jouer.com/-Jeux-de-54-cartes-.html ? Wide choice of old card games (fac simile)

 
Comment by Cor Vanistendael
2014-06-26 08:12:22

Interesting topic. Here in Turnhout (Belgium) we have currently an entire exhibition running about this topic. It is called ‘Carton Weapons’. The link is to the (dutch) museum page.

 
Comment by Urspo
2014-06-29 02:47:18

As I read this I am listening to Henry V

 
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