Through the courtesy of Lord Nelson, the very curious Pack of Cards here presented in facsimile was placed at the disposal of the Aungervyle Society of Edinburgh. The Committee of this Society were very anxious to reproduce these extremely quaint memorials of a by-gone age, but on enquiry it was found that the cost of re-engraving the fifty-two cards on copper, the only really satisfactory method, would be far beyond the means of a Society then barely numbering 120 members. Being Honorary Secretary both the Aungervyle and Clarendon Historical Societies, I suggested that the work should be undertaken at the joint expense of the two Societies. This was rather outside the plans of the Clarendon, but the Committee at length agreed to provide a portion of the necessary funds on condition that after the fifty-two cards had been re-produced in thirteen plates, accompanied by a small explanatory pamphlet, a second series of the Cards, the precise fac-simile of the originals, should be presented to each member of the two Societies. There still remained, however, a considerable sum to be raised. I thereupon proposed, after satisfying the above conditions, to purchase the plates from the Societies. These are now in my possession. The work, executed by the firm of Murdoch and Son, of this City, is perfect in every detail, and heavy though the cost has been, I feel sure that in this case at any rate, the object aimed at has been fully attained. Not a line, not a stroke of the original, but appears in exact counterpart in the reprint.
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Lord Nelson, unfortunately, had lost, or never had in his possession, two Cards, the ace and three of hearts. After much trouble, these have been supplied from another source, and, with the exception that the figures of Cromwell and Fairfax in the latter are on a somewhat smaller scale than those on the threes of the other suits, it would be difficult to suspect that they did not belong to the original pack.
In the following notes, I have merely attempted to explain the allusions contained in the Cards. A few however remain riddles to me.
Edinburgh, 12th October 1885.