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Suit System:F
Recommended Name:  the French-Swiss pattern.

Formerly labelled F-1.512 and XP11 (XP for eXpatriate Paris). In All Cards on the Table (1990) Sylvia Mann proposed the name Modern Swiss pattern. Packs are normally sold as 'Piquet' or 'Piquet-Jass'.


The designs seem to have originated in Germany. In the catalogue of the Cary collection, GER 150 is an anonymous 52-card example, estimated to have been been produced c. 1845 in Germany "for use in Switzerland". The Deutsches Spielkarten Museum has a virtually identical example with the maker's name as "C.F.Köppen sonst Mor.Stoeckel in Leipzig", and their catalogue dates these two makers as 1838-52 and 1823-37. The Queens of these two examples also occur in a mid-19th Century pack by L.Mayrhofer of Augsburg, also in the DSM, which has Kings of the Hamburg pattern. When and how the pattern arrived in Switzerland is not clear. In the catalogue Schweizer Spielkarten (Zürich, 1978) item 117 is a 32-card pack of more typical design, estimated to be c. 1860 and possibly from Solothurn. This catalogue shows as item 118 the 'new' design of 30/10(19)08 with round-cornered frames originated by Arnold for J.Müller & Co of Schaffhausen, and still used today. Item 626 at Guildhall Library is the same design and was obtained in 1903 in Hyères, while item G.262 in the British Museum Schreiber collection is the same design but with square-cornered frames, and must have been obtained before 1895.

Characteristic features

Modern examples follow the Müller version closely, the two earlier German versions differ in style and the costume of the Queens. The essential features which distinguish the pattern from others of the group are that KS holds the top frame of a harp with a head on the pillar, and KC has his free band almost out of sight (presumably on his hip). Another distinctive feature is that there is a small oval shield worn on the upper arm of JS (not JC as in some other patterns): JC here holds a sword-hilt. All Queens hold flowers, all Jacks hold halberds.

KD QD and JD are in profile as in the early Paris pattern prototype. A version by/for RICOR, c. 1955, omits the arm-shield of JS and restores the round top of a shield to KC, but otherwise plainly follows the pattern. A 1986 design by Grimaud, France-Cartes, introduces features more typical of the North-German pattern. Versions with 'no-revoke' four-colour suit-signs have also been made.


King Queen Jack and numerals. The early German example and the Schreiber item are 52-card packs, as is a recent Swiss one. Schweizer Spielkarten states that 40-card packs have been made for Hombre. Most examples have 36 cards for Jass, even when packaged as Piquet cards.

Some other makers

Schweizer Spielkarten also names the Swiss maker Fortuna (W.Bosch) of Zürich. Modern makers outside Switzerland include Nintendo, Tokyo; Plastic Cards, Milan; Dal Negro, Treviso; VEB Altenburger Spielkartenfabrik, Altenburg; Carta Mundi, Turnhout; ASS, Leinfelden; Héron, Bordeaux.

The French-Swiss Pattern

Illustration of French-Swiss pattern (jpg 939 x 1065)
Top three rows: Carta Mundi, Turnhout, for Polydoro, Bern c.1983 (collection John Berry).
Lower three rows: C.F.Köppen sonst Mor. Stoeckel in Leipzig c.1838-52 (by kind permission of the Deutsches Spielkarten-Museum, Leinfelden Echterdingen; Inv. No. A 1213)

The International Playing-Card Society 7/1996 JB

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