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Russian Deck of Cards

Card deck, Russian, paper, c. 1930s, gift of Judge John Webb Green and Ellen McClung, 1957.3.127.1.

Although playing cards originated in China, Russia adopted this gambling method from Western European nations. When card games did make their way eastward towards Russia in the 17th century they were quickly banned in the infamous 1649 Sobornoye Ulozheniye or “Council Code” promulgated by the Russian Parliament. However, this ban seemed to only apply to serfs as nobility greatly enjoyed the game and created several variations of their own. The renowned genre and historical Russian nineteenth century, Adolf Charlemagne, created the iconic Russian style of playing cards known as the “Satin” deck as they were covered in talcum powder to make them easier to shuffle.

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