Mint sealed annual double deck of cards issued in a limited edition of 1350 decks by The Worshipful Company of Makers of Playing Cards in 1976, celebrating in that year the 500th anniversary of the establishment of William Caxton’s press in Westminster. Caxton was the England’s first printer.
The history of the Worshipful Company is summarized at its website:
"The Company was incorporated to regulate the trade of making playing cards in London, which had suffered from the importation of foreign cards and cheap and inferior cards manufactured in the country. Customs officers were ordered to seize foreign or poor quality cards. In exchange for these benefits the Company agreed that each pack manufactured was to be sealed and a duty paid to the King. Every maker had to register a mark of his own.
“The King's Receiver of this duty had an office in the City and was made a freeman of the Company. In 1712 an Act stipulated that the Ace of Spades must be marked on the printed side with the makers name, and the duty paid. This remained the case until the excise duty was abolished in 1960.
“These roles for the Company, declined over the years, in common with many other Livery Companies such that by 1880 there were only twenty Liverymen, apart from the Master and Wardens.
“Resurgence of the Company in the 1880's was largely the result of the activity of two collectors of playing cards on the Court, one of whom was also a manufacturer. The presentation of the Company's pack of playing cards at the Installation Banquet for the Master and Wardens commenced in 1882 and has become an annual custom. A portrait of the Master appears on the Ace of Spades with the names of the Wardens and the Clerk. The backs of the cards commemorate some important event of the year."
The cards are bridge size with gold gilt around, and are in their original plastic case with the Company's emblem embossed on the lid.
As noted, the cards are mint and in the wrapper, although the wrapper on one of the decks has torn. The box is in excellent condition, except that there is one spot on the lid where remnants of a price tag or piece of tape remain; I believe this substance could be removed, but I have not attempted it.
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