I think they would make not only great gifts, but would be perfect to set out at a party! There are seven sets of cards in total and on the website each set comes with its own mini-history and many images. These are some of my favorites, I love their descriptions!
South Sea Bubbles Playing Cards
Financial scandals and faulty projects were epitomised by the bursting of the South Sea Bubble, as commemorated in this deck of cards. (1720)
What a unique contemporary record in cartoon form of' the feverish activities of traders in stock! Speech balloons are used to report the speech of those portrayed and each card has a pithy verse describing the situation. (Some of these verses may not be suitable for children!)
The cards offer not only a marvellous record of' fashions of dress of the period but also commentary upon those who were tempted and fell as a result of the apparent gold rush - cobblers, reverends, lawyers, "a Brisk Young Gentleman", and so on. (Full description and images here)
Published in 1707, these are pictorially the most elaborately engraved set of playing cards ever issued, and demonstrate fully the adulation at that time accorded to the first Duke of Marlborough during his overseas battle campaigns.
Although primarily intended as a compliment to the Duke's successes, the pack deals with a variety of European political issues and includes several portraits of royalty connected with the campaigns. The spade suit comprises almost entirely a series of savage, not to say scurrilous, attacks upon the French king, Louis XIV. (More images here)
I am always looking for 18th century inspired items to share with you, so if you find anything let me know!