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102305 | CANADA & FRANCE. Colonial-era Jack of Diamonds "playing card Money."

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    102305  |  CANADA & FRANCE. Colonial-era Jack of Diamonds "playing card Money." Issued circa 1750 by "G. de Paris" (54mm x 85mm).


    Jack of Diamonds playing card: Styled as the Trojan hero Hector standing right, with hand on hip and holding ax; three lis stamp between legs / Handwriting in 14 lines in French pertaining to the “de la Rüe de Monfey” family and its coat-of-arms.


    Extremely Fine. Corners mostly intact, with just a little rounding on a few, some light discoloration to the paper and spots, but coloring is bold.


    In the 1680’s, there was a severe shortage of currency in France’s New World colony, conveniently New France, or what is now mostly Canada. Due to the ongoing skirmishes against the Iroquois, who were allies of the British, an economic drain existed within the colony, with more money going out than money coming in from its main exports—mainly cod and fur. As such, in order to pay troops stationed in the colony, Jacques de Meulles, the interim governor general in New France, authorized the use of a common good that everyone would have had—playing cards—as “IOUs,” until new shipments of money could be received from France. Cards, in addition to being ubiquitous, were durable and meant to stand up to a great deal of handling. The amount owed and the person owing the debt was written on the back, and then held until it could be redeemed, even being spent and given to others, with the idea that it could be “cashed in” when fresh coinage next arrived. While this system worked quite well, it was eventually disbanded, with cards taken out of circulation and burned by around 1714.


    By 1729, the practice was needed once again, and lasted, in one form or another, to the end of French rule in 1763 (as a part of the Treaty of Paris at the end of the French & Indian War). The official practice at this time was on white cardstock, rather than ones that had already been produced as playing cards, with overall sizes and corner cutting indicating the value owed. Unofficial practices, however, nevertheless existed, owing to the commonality of the playing cards as money only a generation or so prior. One such form, like the example here, would fully spell out the person involved in the IOU, usually identifying their family coat-of-arms as well, as heraldry was still a very common way to associate a family or clan—a holdover from France and the Old World.


    Upload: 2 January 2023.


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