In a book about the celebrated French naturalist Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon (best known to mathematicians for his needle), I found the following picture, apparently without explanation (unless I missed something):
Apologies for the poor quality of the picture. Round the edge of the cards are beautiful illustrations of birds and fish, similar to those in his famous work Histoire Naturelle.
But what do the numbers mean? If they are not clear from the picture, here they are by rows: 24, 6, 1; 44, 14, 25; 53, 39, 49; 66, 58, 69; 86, 79, 70. The numbers 24, 1, 39, 86, 70 in the four corners and the centre are on shaded backgrounds.
Was Buffon a secret lotto player, who amused himself by illustrating the lotto cards?