$4,854
pledged of $3,468 goal
backers

All or nothing. This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by .

$4,854
pledged of $3,468 goal
backers

All or nothing. This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by .

About

What Are the Pike and Clover Playing Cards?

  • 55 poker-sized (2.5" x 3.5") playing cards
  • Custom artwork on every card
  • Two-way borderless back design
  • 320 gsm card stock with linen finish
  • Custom tuck box
  • Printed by Cartamundi

Pike and Clover is a deck of playing cards with a style based on the old Tarot de Marseille cards.

The aces
The aces

With all Spanish/Italian suited playing cards, including Tarot de Marseille cards, the suit symbols tend to be drawn in a more detailed and realistic way than the simple black or red shapes of the French/international suit system. Historically, the symbols we know as clubs, diamonds, hearts, and spades were produced simply and easily by stencilling in a single colour. The Spanish/Italian suits of sticks, coins, cups, and swords tended in contrast to be outlined with a woodcut, followed by colouring by stencilling, often with more than one colour for a single suit symbol.

When it comes to the court cards, the realistic nature of the Spanish/Italian suit symbols and the fact that they formed part of the woodcut along with the court figures mean that the court figures are often drawn interacting with the suit symbols in a way that is not typically seen in French/international-suited playing cards.

I wanted this to be a feature of the Pike and Clover cards.

A question then arose as to what the suit symbols of clubs, diamonds, hearts, and spades represent. For two of these, it was instructive to check the names of the suits in French. Clubs are called trefle, meaning clover. Spades are called pique, meaning pike-head or spear-head.

The court cards (Jack, Queen, and King) are drawn in the art style of Tarot de Marseille cards. For some of the cards, you may see an obvious influence from a particular tarot card. More generally, the kings and queens are all seated, and the queens all have their hair uncovered --- these conventions are typical of Tarot de Marseille cards, and are not typical of the old standard French playing card designs, some of which evolved into the standard English pattern.

Court cards
Court cards

However, fans of the standard English pattern will hopefully find something interesting in the design of the Pike and Clover court cards: they are drawn to incorporate the various conventions and poses that are typical of the court figures. There are one-eyed jacks of hearts and spades. The one-eyed king of diamonds has his axe. And so on.

More court cards (text on the queen of hearts will change: probably coeur de femme above, and queen of hearts below)
More court cards (text on the queen of hearts will change: probably coeur de femme above, and queen of hearts below)

The pip cards are decorated with flower and leaf patterns typical of the Tarot de Marseille cards.

I have used a five-colour palette for the cards. The pip cards use three colours (different for each suit), and the aces and court cards use four or five.

Diamond suit (the 2 of diamonds is modelled on a 2 of coins design, which is a traditional place for the maker's name; the arms on the 4 of diamonds may change)
Diamond suit (the 2 of diamonds is modelled on a 2 of coins design, which is a traditional place for the maker's name; the arms on the 4 of diamonds may change)

I have also added corner indices to the cards, as well as Roman numerals to the sides. Roman numerals appear on the sides of some Tarot de Marseille pip cards --- note that these are purely additive, so 4 appears as IIII, and 9 as VIIII.

Heart suit
Heart suit

 

Spade suit (text on the 2 of spades may change, or I may leave it ... this card is laid out based on the 2 of cups, which sometimes carries a maker's name, location etc.)
Spade suit (text on the 2 of spades may change, or I may leave it ... this card is laid out based on the 2 of cups, which sometimes carries a maker's name, location etc.)

 

Club suit
Club suit

The card back design is based on a classic old-style tarot card back, heavily reimagined ... Early playing cards usually had plain backs. However, this was not the case for tarot cards, whose backs were often decorated with a simple repeating woodcut print pattern. One of these patterns, variations on which were used by a variety of different cardmakers, has a hexagonal motif containing a maltese cross (or similar). The back design I have chosen has a similar combination of four- and six-fold symmetrical elements to create the two-way hexagonal tiled pattern.

The tuck box is decorated with a similar pattern.

Tuck box and card back
Tuck box and card back

Creation

Each of the 52 playing cards began with an ink drawing on paper at about double the print dimensions. So even every pip symbol is unique. The drawings were then scanned and coloured digitally.

Card together with original drawing
Card together with original drawing

Many thanks for your support.

Please spread the word about this project to help to make it happen!

If you would like to follow my work on your favourite social media, here are some links:

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Risks and challenges

The artwork for the cards is complete. A prototype deck of cards has already been printed, so following on from a successful completion of this campaign, I anticipate that things will move along quickly and smoothly with Cartamundi. The main risk is a possible delay that may happen for some unforeseen reason. Most of the pictures shown here are photographs of the prototype cards. There may be some minor differences in the final production run cards, especially in how the colours appear on the screen compared to in the printed product. I am familiar with worldwide shipping through my work with book publishing, and I have also previously fulfilled two related Kickstarter playing card projects.

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