1793: Cards for Equality

Egalite de Devoirs   Egalite de Droits

Egalite de Rangs   Egalite de Couleurs

Following the French Revolution and its toppling of the French monarchy, Urbain Jaume and Jean-Démosthène Dugourc conceived the idea of a new deck of playing cards that, like the revolutionaries, would toss out its “aristocracy” of Aces, Kings, Queens, and Jacksand replace them with emblems of the new society. Citizens of the new France did not need reminders of “despotism and inequality” when playing a game of cards.

Aces became “Law” cards, Kings became “Spirit” cards, Queens became “Liberty” cards, and the Jacks (above) became “Equality” cards. In a pamphlet advertising the cards, the description of Jacks reads as follows:

Jack of Hearts:  The Equality of Heartsor Equality of Dutiesis a National Guardsman whose devotion to the Country results in pubic security. This word is written near him.

Jack of Clubs: The Equality of Clubsor Equality of Rights: A Judge dressed in the costume of a Republican (presumably) holds in one hand a balanced scale and the other hand he places on the altar of the Law, showing that it is equal for all. He tramples underfoot the hydra of bickering, whose heads lie on the ground. Next to him is written “Justice.”

Jack of Spades: The Equality of Spadesor Equality of Classesis represented by a man of July 14, 1789 and of August 10, 1792 who, armed and trampling underfoot the coats of arms and titles of the nobility, points to ripped-up feudal rights and to the stone from the Bastille upon which he sits. Next to him is the word “Strength.”

Jack of Diamonds: The Equality of Diamondsor Equality of Colors:  The black man, rid of his shackles, treads underfoot a broken yoke. Seated on a bale of coffee, he seems to enjoy the new pleasure of liberty and of being armed. On one side one sees a camp and on the other some sugar cane; and in the word “Courage” one sees that the Man of Color has at long last avenged himself for the scornful injustices of his oppressors.

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