Gnav cards and gnav pieces

The version of the game found in Denmark and Norway surprisingly takes it name from the cat card, which in Italian bears the legend gnao, the sound of a cat. As the vowel combination ao does not exist in Danish, the spelling was changed to gnav (in Danish, v is semivocalic like english w, while in Norwegian it is a pure consonant). Another name for this game is vekselspil meaning exchanging game, a translation from the Italian word Cambio meaning change or exchange. As for the Swedish variant, this Italian word and variations of it was probably once used as a name for the game. In old rules, the exchanging action is described with a verb at kampere derived from this name, which is in other contexts not used in any similar meaning neither in Danish nor in Norwegian.

To avoid the ban on playing cards by the despotic pietist king Christian VI in the mid eighteenth century, gnav cards were replaced by wooden pieces with a printed circular emblem. Later cards often use these emblems rather than the original full-card designs. The wooden piece version has a descendant in the Dutch Slabberjan found on the island of Walcheren in Zealand.

Gnav pieces
Denmark
early 19. c.
Gnav pieces
Denmark
mid 19. c.
Gnav cards
Denmark
mid 19. c.
Gnav cards
Norway
early 20. c.
Slabberjan
Holland
ca. 2000