An extremely scarce series of cartographic playing cards, the first available of the English counties. William Bowes published a series sometime earlier but these are unobtainable. This example of the cards is in the second state identified by the naming of the neighbouring counties. They all bear their relevant suit marks. Of the Morden cards only four totally complete sets (i.e. 52 plus 2 cards) are known. Only one of these is in private hands.
Following the Restoration of King Charles II there was much renewed interest in the pleasures of life in England. Amongst these was a keen desire for gaming, including the use of packs of cards. The mid-1670s saw a rush of cards bearing maps; those of Robert Morden and William Redmayne comprised the English and Welsh counties. This pack was first announced in the Easter Term Catalogues 5 May 1676 and are otherwise undated. They were advertised as being for sale ‘by Robert Morden at the Atlas in Cornhill, Will. Berry at the Globe in the Strand, Robert Green in Budge row, and George Minikin at the King’s Head in S. Martin’s’. Morden and Berry often worked together and Green was also a noted map publisher. Minikin however was a stationer and bookseller, this being the only recorded cartographic work to which he was attached.
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 a single one. Each bears a compass for bearing. In each suit the King is represented by Charles II, the Queen by his consort Catherine of Braganza. The Jack or knave is illustrated by unidentified and different male heads. The remaining cards each bear engraved Roman and Arabic numerals, the latter sometimes obscured by the stencilled suit mark, particularly in the case of the black suits.
Provenance: Charm Antiques, Leeds, 13 September 1940, for £8, acquired by Mr Hickson of Nether Yeadon (invoice enclosed); by family descent; Sotheby’s auction 15 November 2016 lot 40. Baynton-Williams, Ashley. (2005). ‘Robert Morden’s Playing Card Maps of England and Wales’, in MapForum no. 8 pp. 36-8; Bennett (1996) pp. 14-15; King (2003) ‘Miniature Antique Maps’ p. 140; Mann, Sylvia and David Kingsley. (1972). ‘Playing Cards Depicting maps of the British Isles, and of English and Welsh Counties’, in The Map Collectors’ Circle, no. 87 pp. 3-4, 16-18, App. I no. 4, App. II no. 3, App. III no. 2, pl. XI; Shirley (2004) Atlases in the British Library T.Mord 1a; Skelton 94; Worms & Baynton-Williams (2011) pp. 462-4.