The International Playing-Card Society

IPCS Home Page | IPCS Publications Page | Index of Pattern Sheets on the web


Suit System:F
Recommended Name:  Belgian Bongoût pattern.

Name as given by Sylvia Mann in All Cards on the Table, #191. Formerly labelled F-1.5311 and XP17 (XP for eXpatriate Paris). The name Bongoût was also used for quite different patterns in Turnhout and elsewhere.


The pattern is quite clearly fabricated from the immediate forebear [IPCS #77] by a process of permuting elements of the designs and omitting at least one important feature, namely the angular-topped shield. Its absence weakens the visual connection with the old Paris pattern. Details of costume, particularly of the four Kings, are clearly based on those of [IPCS #77]. All the major Turnhout makers produced a version, though it is not known which one issued the design first, nor when it first saw the light of day: perhaps about 1870. In 1976, Aurelia Games of Brussels published facsimiles, printed by Carta Mundi, of examples by Van Genechten and by Brepols. Later, Carta Mundi printed a version of the Brepols design, but with added indices, thereby resuscitating the pattern (see Fournier #139). The pattern seems to have been confined to Turnhout, where it featured as one of the higher quality products; for instance, the two halves of the courts were often coloured differently.

Characteristic features

Usual XP format (i.e. with a horizontal dividing line). As usual it is the four Kings that carry the distinguishing features of the pattern. KS carries an orb and sword, being the same figure as the KC of the earlier versions of the predecessor [IPCS #77]. The other Kings carry sceptres. The KD is the same figure as the KH of that pattern, i.e. holding the peculiar straight-sided harp, but he now wears the arched crown formerly worn by KD. The present KC is the former KD but without the distinctive lion-mask on his shoulder, and with a more normal open crown. Finally, the KH is the former KS but with his shield and the hand that was holding the top edge omitted, leaving only one hand showing, holding a sceptre.

The Queens are, basically, those of the earlier versions of the previous pattern, with variations, not so much in any attempt to update their fashions, but so as to create apparent differences. The Queen holding a tulip still holds it awkwardly, across her bosom and over her shoulder.

The Jacks are the same as in the previous pattern but with some suit-swapping. It is now JH who holds a tasselled spear instead of a halberd, while JS holds the edge of his cloak.

A typical feature of this design (though not always present) is that inside the corners of the double line frame there are small ornamental devices. The best-quality versions of the pattern look unusually rich by Turnhout standards.


King, Queen, Jack and numerals. Usually 52 cards, often with scenic aces from the maker’s range of designs, according to quality and the customer’s wishes.

Illustrations in the literature

Turnhoutse Speelkaarten #52 (Brepols & Dierckx Zoon, c.1885), #53 (Van Genechten, c.1890), Biermans c.1890;

Turnhout Playing Cards p.86 (Van Genechten, 1877);

All Cards on the Table #191 (Van Genechten, c.1900);

JPCS VIII/2 p.40-54;

De Geschiedenis van de Speelkaart by Han Janssen top of p.125.

Belgian Bongoût Pattern

Illustration of Begian Bongoût pattern (jpg 953 x 1075)
Top three rows: Bon goût N.11, Brepols, c.1885.
Bottom three rows: Bon goût No.11, Mesmaekers, c.1890, with aces showing battles of the Crimea War,
attribution confirmed by detailed comparison with a Mesmaekers sample book,
Lot 49 in the catalogue of Sotheby’s sale of 28th July 1981 (of Stanley Gibbons’ stock).
Both from the collection of John Berry.

The International Playing-Card Society 8/2002 JB

For comments please contact the Pattern Sheet Editor: Kay Stolzenburg (

IPCS Home Page | IPCS Publications Page | Index of Pattern Sheets on the web

This page is maintained by John McLeod ( and Kay Stolzenburg (
Last updated 15th January 2011