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7:36pm on Tuesday, 12th April, 2011:
Although I wasn't planning on buying any more antique playing cards off eBay for a while, on account of how I bought more than I wanted to last week, I did spot a double set of Dondorf number 94 patience cards for sale with 2 hours to go, no bids, £15 minimum. I put in a bid, was the only bidder, and won them. Postage was included, so I got them for £15 all in.
Today, they arrived. They're immaculate:
The one on the left is from the set I just bought. The one on the right is from a Dondorf number 189 patience set. The right one looks as if it's been played with, showing a few signs of grubbiness; the one on the left is like it just came out of the packet, new. It's in mint condition. Both packs are. They still have the gold leaf on the corners, they're in such good nick. The box is a bit battered, but the cards inside it are pristine.
I'm a bit worried, though.
OK, so the one on the left is in French (V for Valet) and the one on the right is in German (B for Bube), that's fine. The French one doesn't have the Dondorf name on it, though. All the other Dondorf packs I have Dondorf on the Jack of Clubs, but not this pair. I know there are some other Dondorf packs that haven't got it on them, but they're quite rare. I can't find Dondorf written on any of the other cards, either, but the design of the back of the packs is a Swiss-flag-and-edelweiss concoction that looks pure Dondorf. It may be late Dondorf, as it's a bit fussier than the others, but unless someone wanted to make a Dondorf rip-off I'd say it was Dondorf.
The other glaring problem is that the two cards have completely different images on them. I have several Dondorf Swiss Costumes sets, and they all have the design on the right; all, that is, except for the packs I got today. Mayve Dondorf did a different version for the French market? If so, why didn't they write the people names on the cards as is the usual custom? Maybe they're Swiss, not French? Gawd knows...
I'd be very suspicious that these were modern reproductions of late Dondorf cards if it weren't for the box. The box is in reasonable condition, but has a few scrapes on it as if it's been kept in a drawer for years. It's got "No. 94" stamped on the bottom, which is how I know these are number 94. The person who sold me them said they were antique, but you never know with eBay; I have bought cards from this person before, though, and he seems perfectly legitimate.
So, did I really just buy a pack of cards that look brand new but were manufactrued by a company that closed in 1933? Or is it a more recent pack that just looks like it's Dondorf?
Oh well, I don't really care: £15 for a pair of beautiful patience decks is worth it anyway.
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