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by Archaeology Newsroom

Philhellenic Themes in a Deck of Cards

A number of everyday objects with themes inspired by the Greek war of independence began circulating, in 1821, in Germany as well as in other European countries, thus documenting the philhellenic sentiments of a great number of contemporary Europeans. These objects, board games, decks of cards, wallpapers and other similar items, were ephemeral by nature and so, although we have testimonies of their existence, the actual objects have rarely been conserved. It is for this reason that the description of a deck of cards with philhellenic themes, which has survived to this day, complete and in good condition, through a series of happy coincidences, is of particular interest. This deck consists of 52 cards, each of 8.4 x 5.5 cm, and decorated by hand-painted etchings. The association of the playing cards’ symbols with the personages depicted on them shows this to be the result of careful consideration.