18th Century Playing-Cards and Card Games

In a letter dated August 12, 1774, tutor Philip Vickers Fithian writes, “any young Gentleman travelling through the Colony [of Virginia] is presum’d to be acquainted with Dancing, Boxing, playing the Fiddle, & Small-Sword, & Cards.”

This page is divided into sections with extant playing cards, 18th century rulebooks for games, depictions of 18th century card players, and depictions of 18th century people building houses of cards.

See also games, board games, and toys. (Or, learn more about playing cards from the 14th-16th centuries.)

Extant playing cards and related gaming objects

18th century books with rules for playing card games

  • The Compleat Gamester or, Inſtructions ohow to Play at all manner of uſual, and moſt Gentile Games, either on Cards, Dice, Billiards, Trucks, Bowls, Cheſs. Also the Arts and Misteries of Riding, Racing, Archery, Cock-Fighting. To which is Added, The Game at Baſſet, never before Printed in Engliſh. (1709)
  • The Court-Gamester or, Full and Easy Instructions for – Ombre, Picquet, and the Royal Game of Chess (1719)
  • The Compleat Gameſter or, Full and Eaſy Instructions For Playing at above Twenty ſeveral Games Upon the Cards; with Variety of diverting Fancies and Tricks upon the ſme, now firſt added. As likewiſe at All the Games on the Tables. Together with the Royal Game of Cheſs, and Billiards. To which is added, the Gentleman’s Diverſion in the Arts and Myſteries of Riding, Racing, Archery, Cock-Fighting, and Bowling. (1725)
  • The Compleat Gameſter in Three Parts, viz. Full and eaſy Inſtructions for playing the Games chiefly uſed at Court and in the Aſſembleés, viz. Ombre, Quadrille, Quintille, Picquet, Basset, Faro, and the Royal Game of Chess; The true Manner of playing the moſt uſual Games at Cards, viz. Whist, All-Fours, Cribbidge, Put, Lue, Brag, &c. with ſeveral diverting Tricks upon the Cards; Rules for playing at all the Games both Within and Without the tables; likewiſe at Engliſh and French Billards (1734)
  • The Compleat Gamester in Three Parts, containing The Court Gamester: Or, Full and Eaſy Inſtructions for playing the Games of Ombre, Quadrille, Quintille, Picquet, Basset, Faro, and the Royal Game of Chess; The City Gamester: Or, True Manner of playing the moſt uſual Games at Crds, viz. Whist, All-Fours, Cribbidge, Put, Lue, Brag, &c. With ſeveral diverting Tricks upon the Cards. Alſo Rules for playing at All the Games both Within and Without the Tables; and at Engliſh and French Billiards: With the Laws of Each Game annexed, to prevent Diſputes; The Gentleman’s Diversion: Or, The Arts of Riding, Racing, Archery, Cocking, and Bowling (1739)
  • A short treatise on the game of Whist (1750)
  • The Compleat Gamester in Three Parts, containing the Court Gamester: Or, Full and Eaſy Inſtructions for playing the Games of Whist, Ombre, Quadrille, Quintille, Picquet, and the Royal Game of Chess; The City Gamester: Or, True Manner of playing the moſt uſual Games at Cards viz. All-Fours, Cribbidge, Put, Lue, Brag, Lottery, &c. With ſeveral diverting Tricks upon the Cards; alſo Rules for playin at All the Games both Within and Without the Tables; and at Engliſh and French Billiards: With the Laws of each Game Annexed, to prevent Diſputes; and The Gentlemanſs Diversion: Or, The arts of Riding, Racing, Archery, Cocking, and Bowling (1754)
  • A Short Treatise on the Game of Quadrille (1754)
  • Mr. Hoyle’s Games of Whiſt, Quadrille, Piquet, Cheſs, and Back-Gammon (1772)
  • Hoyle’s Games Improved, Being Practical Treatises on the following Fashionable Games, viz. Whiſt, Quadrille, Piquet, Cheſs, Back-Gammon, Billiards, Cricket, Tennis, Quinze, Hazard, and Lanſquenet (1775)
  • Hoyle’s Games Improved, Being Practical Treatists on the following Fashionable Games, viz. Whiſt, Quadrille, Piquet, Cheſs, Back-Gammon, Draughts, Cricket, Tennis, Quinze, Hazard, Lanſquenet, and Billiards (1779)
  • The Polite Gameſter; containing short treatises on the games of Whist, with an Artificial Memory, Quadrille, Back-Gammon, Chess, Piquet, Billiards and Tennis (1787)
  • An Epitome of Hoyle, with Beaufort and Jones’s Hoyle Improved; or, Practical Treatises on the Following Games: Hazard, Backgammon, Tennis, Billiards, Cricket, Chess, Draughts, Whist, Quadrille, Piquet, Lansquenet, and Quinze, With an Account of the preſent faſhionable Game called E-O, played at moſt of the polite Chocolate Houſes (1791)
  • Hoyle’s Games Improved, Being Practical Treatises on Whist, Quadrille, Piquet, Chess, Back-Gammon, Draughts, Cricket, Tennis, Quinze, Hazard, Lansquenet, Billiards, Faro, Rouge & Noir, Cribbage, Matrimony, Casino, Goff or Golf, and Connexions (1796)

Depictions of card games

Building houses of cards