Stein of the Month: September 2006

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~ The Card Player's Stein ~
A Clever Disguise
by John McGregor

The stein seen above is made of wood and probably papiermâché covered with leather and then hand painted. The lid is pewter. But it is not what it seems.

The figures below reveal that it is actually a case for holding cards and dice. There are two interior compartments for holding cards. The front of each compartment is covered with cloth. The one on the left is embroidered with "Viel Glück", or "Good Luck" and the one on the right is embroidered with the owner's monogram, "CZ".


The cards seen contained in this stein at first appear odd because they are not in the suits we are most familiar with: hearts, spades, diamonds and clubs of the French pattern; but those of Italy: coins, cups, swords and batons.

The cards contained within this stein are unfamiliar, but the illustration to the right shows the suit symbols used in various countries, including the symbols used in Italy which we see here.

In addition to that, they are Tarot cards. Not the occult Tarot that dates from the late eighteenth century, but the older European game of Tarot that was first devised in the early fifteenth century. These cards were manufactured by "Fabrique de Cartes, J. Müller & Cie a Schaffhouse."

Today, playing cards of this pattern are used only in Switzerland and Italy itself.


The International Playing-Card Society, History of Playing-Cards

Games Played with Italian Suited Tarot Cards

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