Complete set of 32 erotic engraved translucent cards, 80 x 52 mm. Stored loosely in contemp. cardboard slipcase.
This complete set of 32 cards is an erotic variant of the famous "Cartes royales" by Armand Houbigant. The original was published in 1818 with a royal privilege (cf. Schreiber, French, 31, and Hoffmann 35 with plate 52a). It marks the beginning of the costume playing card; Chatto (Facts and Speculations on the origin and history of playing cards, London 1848, p. 257) praises the illustrations as "the best of the costume cards that I have seen". They were considered very rare as early as the mid-19th century. The erotic cards (revealing a hidden image when held up to the light) created after this pattern are simplified reproduced engravings, but of extreme rarity in this form. This unique variant is especially noteworthy for stating the names of the persons depicted: kings Charlemagne, Louis the Saint (!), Francis I and Henry IV, queens Hildegarde, Blanche de Castille, Marguerite de Valois and Jeanne d' Albret; the Jacks are illustrated by important military commanders. No matching set is known.
Quite clean; slipcase rather strongly scratched and scuffed.