The Museum of Playing Cards is now open at the Peterhof State Museum-Reserve, more widely known as the Summer Residence of the Russian Emperors. The museum's collection of playing cards contains about 30,000 items, more than 6,000 decks.
Its core is the collection of the well-known collector from Leningrad, Alexander Semenovich Perelman (1932-1995). He was an active collector and kept in contact with collectors at the International Association of Collectors of Playing Cards, and also with some foreign factories, which manufactured playing cards.
In 1999, the Peterhof Museum bought this collection from the collector's widow and then considerably enlarged it with its own acquisitions--purchased mainly at auctions and antique stores. Alexander Perelman dreamed of opening a museum of playing cards. He even commissioned an architectural project of such a building, the future storehouse of his collection. But at that time his plans could not be brought to life, the passion for playing cards, even as an object of historic entity or subject of collecting, was not encouraged in the Soviet Union. Today, Alexander Perelman dream is a reality.
The museum playing cards range in date from the 16th to 20th centuries, from many countries of Europe, Russia, America, and Asia. Among them there are well-known card factories, cards by famous engravers and artists, collection and author's samples of the last century. Beyond playing cards the exposition displays Tarot cards and cards for tarock, cards for fortune-telling and for children's games, educational and geographical cards, propaganda and advertising cards, historical and political cards, and many others. The collection is supplemented by objects of arts and crafts, for which artists used playing card symbols, accessories accompanying the game, and a wonderful library. The museum display has about 6,000 objects, more than 1,000 decks of playing cards and about five hundred objects of numismatics – rare and unique counters and chips.
The Guest of Honor at the opening of the Museum (September, 2007) was Stuart Kaplan, the famous U.S. collector of playing and tarot cards. Kaplan is the founder of the U.S. Games Systems, a leading publisher of tarot decks, books, and card games. He has authored six books about tarot, its symbolism and history. His four-volume work, The Encyclopedia of Tarot, is in the Library of the Museum.
In June 2006 the Peterhof Museum bought a number of historic pieces from the collection of Stuart Kaplan for the future Museum of Playing Cards. The Museum is open every day, except Monday.
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