Evgeny Grigorenko has been producing a series of reprints of Russian Playing Cards since 2011. Here is the first 33 deck from the series 1798 to 1943,Unsure of the exact number of decks in the series, the hardback book has 48 decks listed up to the date 2001 and i have seen a few other packs from the series which have not been listed.
All decks from the series can be found at http://www.igralniekarti.ru
....... or https://russianplayingcard.com
On the 24th of March, 1798, by the Emperor`s decree the right to manufacture and sell within the borders of the Russian Empire was forever granted to the Foundling Hospital - a charity establishment offering custody for orphans. The Board of Guardians of the Foundling Hospital decided to give the exclusive right to manufacture playing cards, in exchange for money to "support orphans". The farming system existed for more than 20 years, namely from the 1st of April, 1799 til the 1st of January, 1820, during that time five tax-farming contracts were registered ,each lasting four years.
Playing cards were manufactured not only by big factories in both capitals, Moscow and St. Petersburg, but also in remote towns by small makers, who had to buy manufacture warrants from tax-farmers. All cards manufactured by tax-farmers were classified into three classes. The class of cards was defined both by the quailty of the process of manufacture of cards themselves and the technology of printing. The first class contained only the best cards, The second class included both defective cards of the first class and cards of lower quailty compared with the first class cards. The third class, being the worst ones, consisted of `worn out` cards and cards made from russian paper only.1. RUSSIAN PLAYING CARDS, 1798
This pack manufactured at the beginning of the tax farming period seems to be rather crude,archaic and almost primitive compared with the European cards that served as original samples. Wood block printing and stencil was used to manufacture cards and no matter where or by whom they were made,it inevitably led to some variability of the card images. The blocks used for printing soon became worn out through very intense usage, this often resulted in the court cards looking rather fuzzy, they often lacked fingers and noses and one could only guess the shapes of some parts of the clothing as their outlines were fragmented2. RUSSIAN PLAYING CARDS, 1815
The Russian courts are somewhat modified versions of those found on cards typical of the northern regions of Germany,which in turn,go back to the traditional French pack. The affinity is evident when we look at postures of the court figures, head`s inclination and eye direction, flowers in Queen`s hand, the orbs, the sword and the sceptre held by Kings,poleaxes held by Jacks. The paints used for colouring of russian cards - Red, Yellow and Blue- are similar to ones used for colouring of cards of German manufacture and have their own symbols. Thus,yellow symbolizes fire, heat, south and wealth, Blue symbolizes wisdom, serenity and selflessness, Red is bravery and courage.3. RUSSIAN PLAYING CARDS, 1850
During the first half of the 19th century playing cards of the second class were manufactured in accordance with their traditional design, being much worse in stylistic features in comparison with cards from Europe. Russian engravers, being influenced by conventional standards, still managed to improve the design of face cards of this pack a little, Looking at the pack of second class from 1850, it is quite clear that the design is more refined, the faces aquire human features, and the colouring also improves becoming more precise and bright.
Thanks for looking at my cards