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4:30pm on Tuesday, 13th July, 2010:

Wear and Tear


Today, I had cause to photocopy a set of old playing cards I bought in October last year off eBay:

It dates from about

The words "UTLÄNDSK TILLVERKNING" stamped on the Ace of Hearts mean something like "foreign construction" in Swedish. The Jack of Clubs, which looks like this:

has this written on his sash:

Bernhard Dondorf was a manufacturer of playing cards in Frankfurt am Main, Germany ("Francefort" is what one of my 1869 maps published in Paris calls the place — UK and US maps usually have "Frankfort", and my Italian one has "Francoforte"). I don't know anything else about this particular deck's history, but judging by the lack of an index in the corner I'd have said they were probably from the 1860s, so the date is consistent.

Note that the cards from 2 to 6 in each suit are much cleaner than the others; they're like that on the back, too. If it weren't for the fact that the stamp suggests it was exported to Sweden, I would have said it had been used extensively for playing Skat; however, unless Skat is bigger in Sweden than I was hitherto aware, it could just as easily have been used for Piquet or perhaps Bezique (which was big around that time). Bezique uses two decks, which until recent times would always be kept together; these days, though, they're often split to fetch higher individual prices. Bizarrely, they're still usually called "Bezique decks" on eBay and other places where you can buy playing cards online, although I personally prefer the term "Piquet deck" if there's only one of them. Anyway, it's unlikely that this particular deck was used for Bezique because it has the full complement of 52 cards instead of just 32. I suspect ot was manufactured for sale in France or Switzerland, but wound up on Sweden instead. Gawd knows what they played with it there.

Why, no, I don't care that you don't find this stuff as fascinating as I do...

Referenced by Unused Cards.

Referenced by Edelweiss Cards.

Referenced by Interesting Backs.

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Copyright © 2010 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).