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5:18pm on Thursday, 21st March, 2013:

O. Gibert


I haven't bored you with any of my collection of antique playing cards for a while, so here we go...

These are cards from a deck made by the mysterious O. Gibert of Paris, who worked between about 1840 and 1860. I say "mysterious", because so little today is known about Gibert that we don't even know whether they were male or female. Er, well we do know whether they were male or female — they were — we just don't know which. I bought them off eBay, where they were described as being 1865/70, but since Gibert stopped publishing in 1860 I knew that they were earlier than that.

According to World of Playing Cards, this is a pattern known as "Troubadour" that was manufactrued 1858 to 1860, so a late one in Gibert's repertoire. My pack differs from the description in two ways, though. Firstly, the name of the artist, O. Gibert, is supposed to be on the shield of the Jack of Clubs, but mine doesn't. Then again, looking at their picture of their JC, there isn't anything written on the shield either. The second difference is that the back of the cards is supposed to be plain blue, but mine is plain pink. Actually, it's not plain pink any more, because it seems that in the past the deck was mounted and there are five white spotches on the back of each card where the paper has come off with the glue. It's not a complete deck — it's missing some low Hearts and Diamonds — presumably because they tore when they they were being removed from the backing. All the pictures and Aces are there, though, so I'm thinking of getting it mounted with just those (which takes up less room than 52 cards) (not that this will make my wife any keener for me to do it).

O. Gibert decks are quite pretty and hard to get hold of: this is the only one I have, and it was cheap because of the missing cards. If I were richer I would so go out and buy some more, but at £500 a pop for a decent one I think perhaps I'll wait until, hmm, probably forever actually.

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Copyright © 2013 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).