Welcome to the Worshipful Company of
Makers of Playing Cards
The Worshipful Company of Makers of Playing Cards is one of the early Trade Guilds in the City of London. The Company was founded as the "Mistery (trade, art, or occupation) of Makers of Playing Cards of the City of London" by a Charter granted by King Charles I on 22nd October 1628.
Some 164 years later, on 27th November 1792 the Court of Aldermen of the City of London granted the Company its Livery.
Accordingly, though 75th in order of precedence, it is one of the older of the City Livery companies, which now total 108. The Makers of Playing Cards was a craft, rather than a trade, company. Under the Company's charter, the number of Liverymen is limited to 150.
Originally the Company was created in order to regulate and control the importation of cheap playing cards, to protect the cardmakers and their families and to maintain quality.
The Crown received the benefit of the duties levied by the Company agreeing to pay a tax on all packs, the Ace of Spades being the chosen card to show the tax, every maker of playing cards had to have a mark of his own inrolled to indicate recognition of his name.
This tax on playing cards was abolished on 4 April 1960 as the cost of administration had become excessive.
The true origin of the Company’s Coat of Arms is unknown but an official Grant of Arms was presented on 31 March 1982. The shield shows the four suits with an upright hand holding an Ace of Hearts.
The motto is 'Corde Recto Elati Omnes' meaning 'with an upright heart all will be exalted'.
The Company Today
Since the formation of the Company in the Middle Ages when playing cards were the sole entertainment for the population, the production and use of playing cards in London has declined.
Today the Company still has card makers as Members.
However the Company has many other Members connected with playing cards including card collectors, dealers, bridge players, magicians and other professions.
If you are interesed in joining this ancient and Worshipful Company? Contact the Clerk for more information
A Force for Good
Corde Recto Elati Omnes:- With an Upright Heart All Are Exalted
The Company has been a "Force for Good" in the City for over 380 years. From enabling leisure and entertainment in the Coffee Houses, Parlours and Ale Taverns of King Charles's time, to our more modern role of providing opportunities for disadvantaged children, we have always attracted able people who want to make a difference.
Today's Livery comprises an eclectic mix of individuals. From Magicians to Musicians, from Promoters to the Professions, from Traders to Technicians our Freemen and Liverymen represent a cross section of that which makes London the great city it is today.
If you are interested in helping to "Make a Difference" in the City and beyond, please contact the Clerk to find out more about how we might help you to make the best use of your skills.
Modern Trade Affiliations
The Company is actively pursuing affiliations with modern successors to our ancient trade, notably the computer games industry but also the broader entertainment business. We are also embracing technology by exploring digitisation of our unique collection of beautiful and historic playing cards and ultimately making it available to explore online in a compelling, permanent virtual exhibition which can be searched by historians, students and collectors. We are actively seeking new Members who have skills in these areas to help in bringing this multi-year initiative to fruition.
Role of the Livery Companies of the City of London
The livery companies developed out of the medieval guilds in the City of London. These guilds originally evolved from a religious base, as craftsmen in various specific trades congregated in parishes in the City. From their congregations voluntary associations were formed for mutual aid and protection of their members.
Gradually, trade considerations assumed a more important role with the guild's main role being the regulation of their trades or crafts within the City. They exercised control over standards, including the power of search, and the training of apprentices. Members of the Livery or Liverymen, were and still are drawn from the freemen of the City and became freemen of the Companies, qualifying by patrimony (inheritance), servitude (apprenticeship), or redemption (purchase).
Management of the City of London was based on a charter granted to its citizens by King William I that provided it with a remarkable degree of autonomy. The City then won from King John the right to vote for their Mayor. Civic power originally rested with the Court of Aldermen who administered justice in matters of dispute within the City, regulated the Livery Companies and settled all inter-livery disputes. Liverymen elected the Lord Mayor and the Sheriffs as they still do to this day.
See the Makers of Playing Cards Charity Trust Brochure , Information and latest News
Next Livery Dinners
6th April 2017 - Livery Dinner with Guests at the Skinners' Hall.
Please save the dates.
Court Assistant Dr.Paul Bostock has been commissioned by Bridge Magazine to write 12 monthly articles on Playing Cards.
P/M Roddy Somerville has a new page to bring interesting items about unusual packs from the Company's Playing Card Collection
Click the picture to go to the Curator's Corner.
Links to latest items in Member's area
(Including the Burn's Night Supper Photographs)
Master's Programme for 2016 - 2017
The Master's calendar card for the programme of events for the year can now be downloaded here.
Please note corrections and updates if any:
Download BrochureDownload the PDF Document