The copperplate pack of cards by Virgil Solis
Period : 1544
Reporduction of a card deck made by Virgil Solis in 1544. including a small booklet with onformation about the deck.
This quirky deck is tricky to classify, as it combines features normally found in German luxury decks, normal German decks and French decks.
Structurally, the deck is identical to French decks, with pip cards from ace to ten, knave, queen and king in each of the four suits. The tens contains ten suit symbols, rather than any form of a banner ten. This also occurs in German cards, but is universal in French ones. While the knaves could well have been Obers, the lack of Unters can hardly be accidental as a fair number of copies of the deck survive. In common with German luxury decks is the choice of animals and birds as suit symbols, and having mounted kings and queens.
The only feature unique to normal German cards is the suit names written on the aces; rather than matching the actual suits, these are the normal German ones. The reason for this inclusion implies that the standard suits had properties that needed to be preserved with the change to non-standards suits. It seems reasonable to assume that this is the distinction between weak suits where lower cards beat higher and strong ones with normal ranking. This assumption is strengthened by the observation that all the court cards in the suits of bells and hearts are facing leftwards while those in leaves and acorns face to the right. The former two correspond to the red French suits of diamonds and hearts, which are weak in games having this distinction; the latter two to the black suits of spades and clubs which are strong. A consistent distinction between suits with left-facing courts versus suits with right-facing ones is also found in the cards of master PW. There are enough other similarities between these decks that Virgil Solis might have been directly inspired by the earlier one.