A good example of the very rare Robert Morden playing card of Oxford with GILT EDGES. Following the Restoration of King Charles II there was much renewed interest in the pleasures of life in England after the puritan values of the Cromwell era. Amongst these was a keen desire for gaming, including the use of packs of cards. Geographical cards had been issued before this date but they usually constituted descriptive text with or without a small illustration of some kind; for example, those of H. Winstanley in 1665.
This pack was first announced by Robert Morden (fl.1669-1703) in the ‘Easter Term Catalogues’ for 5 May 1676 and are otherwise undated. A second state was advertised in the ‘Term Catalogues’ for October of the same year, 1676. This is identified by the presence of the names of neighbouring counties as here.
For each county Morden displays below the map its Length, Breadth and Circumference in Old English miles. Below that he gives the chief city or town and its distance from London first in reputed and then measured miles according to John Ogilby. Lastly, he states their latitude. Each map bears the roads featured by Ogilby in his Britannia of 1675 ‘with his leave’, the main ones double lined and minor ones identified by one. Each bears a compass for bearing. In most cases, they are the first printed maps of the county to include roads, included within only six months of Ogilby’s publication. Packs of playing cards by their very nature have a poor survival rate. Provenance: Henry Spencer auction, Retford, sold to John Orde; Ray O’Shea Gallery; private English collection. Arber (1903-06) I. 263; Mann & Kingsley ‘Playing Cards’, in Map Collectors’ Circle no. 87 p. 26; Skelton (1970) no. 95.