A Set of 18th Century Playing Cards, Scottish Maps

Serious map collectors like myself are always looking for the unusual, so I was delighted to stumble on this set of playing cards issued in Paris by Jean Baptiste Mitoire, after Nicolas Jean Baptiste de Poilly, which date from c.1750. The British Museum has two sets of such cards, one incomplete, and both sets describing various provinces in France. My set of just 14 cards forms a complete suit describing Scotland. The BM suggests that while there are no suit signs, each suit was colour-coded. Cards II to X in my suit depict in simplest form various towns in various regions of Scotland. The number of towns depicted on each card reflects the value of that card. You would not be able to navigate by these cards (!), but they do show whether the towns lie on rivers, or the coast. The ace has a general description of the Country, and the Jack, Queen and King depict respectively Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh. There is one extra card, a full map of Scotland (possibly a joker?). Each card is plain on the back. When offered for sale, there was another identical set of Scottish maps, together with maps from other countries forming other suits. I could afford only the one complete suit!

Map of Scotland, after Nicolas Jean Baptiste de Poilly. Each card measures approx. 8 x 5.5 cms.

The Ace.

Thurso and Tongue are included, but nowhere in the far north-west.

Jack (Aberdeen)....                                                       Queen (Glasgow)....                                                      King (Edinburgh).