Complete deck of Civil War-era playing cards, using patriotic pro-Union emblems in place of standard suits and courts.
Very good plus to near fine.
"In playing wtih these Cards, they are to be called by the names the emblems represent, and as the Emblems are as familiar as household words, everywhere among the American people, they can be used as readily the first occasion as Cards bearing Foreign emblems." – blurb printed on original box
Notwithstanding the many contemporary critics of gambling, card playing was one of the most common ways soldiers passed time during the Civil War: "For gambling or for simple fun, playing cards are a staple in memoirs of Civil War camp life. All up and down the ranks, men played cards under fire, men played cards between battles, sworn enemies played cards together in cornfields, prisons, and hospitals" (Huets).
Replacing the traditional suits are red flags, blue shields, red stars, and blue eagles. The courts are represented by majors (Jack), Lady Liberty (Queen), and colonels (King). The ace for the blue eagle, presumably the representative of the ace of spades, is the most elaborate non-court card, with a larger version of the eagle design in blue. "The whole is of very vulgar character," notes William Wilshire in his catalogue of cards at the British Library. A terrific survival of an ephemeral but ubiquitous aspect of everyday life among soldiers of the Civil War, scarce complete and in the box.
Read more: Huets, "Killing Time," New York Times, 7 September 2012; Wilshire, A Descriptive Catalogue of Playing and Other Cards in the British Museum, 325.
New York: American Card Co, 1862. 4'' x 2.75'' (box). 52 individual cards printed in blue (eagles and shields) and red (stars and flags), with versos printed in blue. Housed in original box printed in red. Tax stamp on inner sleeve of box dated 1863. Box gently worn with one joint starting and one old tape repair, very good. A few cards soiled, but overall quite clean.
We work hard to meet our ethical responsibilty to describe our material accurately. All items are guaranteed as described and may be returned for any reason within 30 days. Please notify us before mailing a return.
We guarantee the authenticity of our items. All items are original (meaning not facsimiles or reproductions), first editions (i.e. first printings), unless otherwise noted. TPM is a member of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America and upholds their Code of Ethics.
All items subject to prior sale. Domestic orders over $250 and international orders over $500 ship gratis. We use USPS unless otherwise requested. Expedited, overnight, or international shipping, as well as other carriers, may carry additional costs beyond quoted rates. All orders receive tracking information and a direct contact in case of any questions.
We accept all major credit cards, Paypal, Venmo, check, money order, and bank wire. We are happy to accomodate institutional buyers' needs. Sales tax will be added to applicable purchases.
If for any reason you are dissatisfied with your purchase, please contact us. We prioritize our long-term relationships far above any individual purchase, and we want you to love your item as much as we loved cataloguing it.