Dating vintage playing cards
It can be difficult to collect a complete deck because since cards generally see a lot of use over the years there will be some cards which have been destroyed or lost.
Collecting single examples of antique playing cards is possibly the easiest way to begin collecting.
Another technique that was being developed was that of engraving.
Engraved cards were more expensive than the woodcuts and so are very rare.
There are two in the United States, and two in Great Britain, the most prestigious of all groups being the International Playing-Card Society. Finding a rare and truly valuable deck of playing cards doesn't happen every day, but it does happen; and it would be great if it happened to you!
Playing cards evolved from a variety of gambling games established in the Middle East and Asia, including chess and backgammon.
Is the deck complete, or at least complete as far as you know? I have bought decks of playing cards on e Bay that were described as being in great condition and that were, when I received them, in terrible condition. If you're not sure how to describe playing cards, get an auction catalogue of playing cards from a reputable firm, and use that as a guide. This is, of course, the part that everyone is interested in. Chief among these resources, if one is speaking of American playing cards, is the Hochman Encyclopedia of American Playing Cards, edited by Tom and Judy Dawson.
(I like e Bay; I just don't like e Bay sellers who don't accurately describe their wares.) Now for the last step; join (or at least contact) a playing card collector's group.Every once in a while - and, when I'm busy, much more frequently than that - a reader sends me an e-mail describing an old deck of playing cards, and asking how much the deck is worth.Placing a monetary value on an old deck of playing cards is exactly like placing a monetary value on any antique or collectible.Among the oldest known card decks is the “Marmalukes of Egypt,” a set marked with swords, cups, coins, and polo sticks.
Cards arrived in Europe sometime in the late 14th century, likely passing through the major port of Venice.
By the last decade of the 14th century card use had become common throughout the European countries. Only royalty and the very wealthy could afford to own hand painted cards by local artisans.