23 John Lenthall 1717


The stationer William Warter and his apprentice (1699-1706), son-in-law (1706) and successor (1711) John Lenthall specialised in the publication of playing cards. The first two packs were originated by Warter in 1698 (Proverb cards) and 1707 (Arithmetical cards). Three further packs were published jointly by the partners in 1709 and during the next fourteen years John Lenthall steadily added to his stock of cards, frequently by purchasing existing plates which had been engraved many years before.

Some time before 1716/17 William Redmayne’s cards (16) came into his possession and these were reprinted and sold as Country cards and later as Historiographical cards. Lenthall produced a second set of map playing cards in 1717. These cards were copies of those produced by Robert Morden in 1676 (15) but with some changes and new suits; Devon was now the nine of Spades, not Diamonds as before. Each suit was printed on a single sheet which was then cut up. Whilst this set of cards is usually dated 1717, Mann and Kingsley suggest that it could be dated 1711 or earlier based on tax stamp evidence. However, the first advertisement for these cards appeared in the Evening Post of 22. Oct. 1717 ... this day are published 20 entertaining Packs of cards curiously engraven on Copper Plates, Sold by John Lenthall, Stationer. No. 5 in the list was: Map-Cards, describing the 52 counties of England and Wales, each Card being a distinct Map. The date of this advertisement has been adopted here. The cards were advertised up to April 1752.1

Differences to Morden include spelling of Breadth in lower panel (Bredth in Morden), the adjacent counties are included similar to later Morden issues. A group of 17 cards of the Lenthall set has been found in a book which once belonged to the engraver John Sturt (or Stuart), together with a complete set of the Morden cards. This has led to the supposition that Sturt was the engraver and because the Morden set had no suit marks he misplaced the counties in the four suits.

The costs of the packs varied considerably: 1722 - 2s; 1733 - 5s; 1741 - 4s; 1750 - 2s6d as compared to Redmayne’s cards on sale in 1677 at 6d a pack.


Size of card 95 x 60 mm.                                                                                                                                                        Miles (10 = 10 mm).

Map panel 60 x 60 mm.

Devon Shire in upper panel with Roman IX (right) and stencilled suit (spades, left). A plain double line border.

1. 1717 Pack of playing cards  
    London. J Lenthall. 1717. H147a, M&K5 P.2 
2.   1717   Card is now printed with decorated border.  
    Pack of playing cards   
    London. J Lenthall. (1717). H147b, M&K5, Field.3


[1] See Mann and Kingsley; PLAYING CARDS; The Map Collectors’ Circle; No. 87, 1972; p.20.

[2] A pack of 51 cards (lacking only Queen of Clubs and two spade cards, Knave and 5) is in a private collection. These were illustrated in; John Lenthall and his playing card map of England and Wales by Brian Kentish; in MapForum  Issue 11, 2008 (reproduced here - see Map Image). He also notes that the Bodleian library has two sets of 18 cards and the Beineke library at Yale 17 cards almost identical in that the latter library is missing one card. This suggests the cards were printed on a plate of 18 cards and each set is one sheet (Beineke lacking one card from this set). Neither of these two part sets includes Devon.

[3] Illustration courtesy of Mr Albert Field.