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There seems reason to believe that stencilled
cards were in use before those produced
at the press; and, until within the last few
years, stencilling was the general method in
use. A stencil is simply a sheet of strong
paper, which has been made thick and
tough by repeated coatings of oil-paint on
both sides and long- continued dryings. It
is cut into holes having the exact size and
form of the pips or devices to be produced.
The colouring matter, mixed with paste,
is ready at hand; the stencil is laid flat
on a sheet of prepared paper; and the colour,
being brushed over with a large circular
brush, enters the holes through the stencil,
and imparts the design to the paper placed
underneath. This may be done on the whole
thickness of the carton as easily as on the
sheet of paper which is to form only the face;
whereas the printing of the pips cannot be
efficiently managed except on a piece of limp
paper. This stencil process is in principle
just the same as that by which the commoner
kinds of paper-hanging are produced; but it
requires infinitely more care and skill to ensure
the sharpness and clearness of the device.
Most of the London makers still employ this
method of producingnot only the pipsbut
the chief part of the design in the court-cards.
For the latter purpose a pear-tree wood-cut is
engraved with the outline of the device; an
impression is taken from this and is filled up
in colours by stencil. The impression from
the wood-cut was, until within the last few
years, taken by rubbing (as engravers sometimes
take their proofs); but the press is now
generally employed for this purpose.

One of the turning points in the manufacture,
that which gave a new aspect to the
whole affair, was an improvement patented
about twenty years ago; viz., the employment
of oil-colours instead of water-colours
or size colours or paste colours. No one
can tell but those who have to master
the difficulties, what it is which is here
attempted; we have heard of the months
of labour, and the sums of money, and the
stores of patience, called for in realising
this project, and we can believe it all. To
make the pip equal-tinted, to make its
outlines clear and sharp, to make the paint
adhere well to the paper, to enable it to bear
the after-polishing, to dissipate every fear of
stickiness between one card and anotherall
this was to be attained. The plates for printing
are engraved on copper or on brass, or
they are rnadeby electrotype casting from model
plates, or they are built up of little slips of
copper arranged in definite forms, or they are
formed of copper wire woven into a beautifully
minute pattern; all these, and perhaps more
methods, are adopted for producing a plate,
according as the pips, the têtes, or the backs
are to be printed, and according to the nature
of the device adopted. The printing itself
differs little from ordinary colour-printing.
According to the plate employed, there may
be printed a sheet of coloured backs, a sheet
of hearts, a sheet of clubs, and so on. If it be
a sheet of court-cards, there are required as
many plates and as many separate printings
as there are coloursgenerally six, one for
the outline, and one each for the red, blue,
yellow, black, and flesh colours. The plate is
daubed with the colours, and the sheet is
printed therefrom.

If card-players will not be enlightened,
why should card-makers fret themselves
thereat?  Messrs. De la Eue are said to have
spent much capital, and much time and
ingenuity, in producing more graceful figures
than those now seen on our court-cards; they
have employed talented artists, and have
produced many novelties; but people will
not give up the old deformities, and therefore
deformities are still made to please
the people. Let us look at this King of
Hearts, for instance. His blue hair curls
gracefully round his salmon-coloured face;
his yellow crown with a red border is,
in shape, a compromise between a
carpenter's paper cap, and a charity boy's
muffin-cap; his left arm holds a sword in a
position well nigh impossible (but no matter
for that), while his right, in a sort of bishop's
sleeve, is laid upon his royal breast; his
ermined robe, with something of the grace of
a sou'-wester coat, partially reveals his
indescribable tunic within; his shoe must have
been borrowed from Sir Roger de Coverley;
his left leg is gone we know not whither;
but his right leglike the coachman
immortalised by Thomas Hoodis

"Too broad to be conceived
By any narrow mind."

Sometimes, in order that keen whist-players
may not detect each other's court-cards, the
figures are made double-headed; our double
King of Hearts is, by this manoeuvre,
deprived of legs altogether; he has another
head where his heels should be; and his
waist is an amalgamation of two kings in
one. The attempt to induce card-players
to accept kings, and queens, and knaves of
more rational form, failed signally. Other
countries have made similar attempts.
Thus, during the revolutionary period of
1793-4, there were packs of cards made with
Molière, Lafontaine, Voltaire, and Rousseau
for the four kings; and Prudence, Justice,
Temperance, and Fortitude, for the four
queens. Another pack had the " Genii " of
War, Arts, Peace, and Commerce, for the
kings; the " Liberties" of the Press, Religion,
Marriage, and Professions, for the queens;
and the " Equalities " of Duties, Ranks,
Rights, and Races, for the knaves and valets.
Houbigaut, in 1818, produced cards with the
Court costumes of France at four widely
distinct periods. Cotta, the bookseller of
Tübingen, has had cards made with twelve
characters from Schiller's Joan of Arc; of
which the four kings were represented by