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Léonard Biermans, Turnhout

Léonard Biermans, Turnhout, Belgium, 1875-1970

Léonard Biermans had been employed by Brepols from 1871-1874 before opening his own steam-powered playing card factory in 1875. In 1879 he married Marie-Thérèse, daughter of Van Genechten’s manager, Charles Poupaert, so playing cards were never far from his attention. Léonard Biermans died in 1896 and the company continued as a limited company, S.A. Léonard Biermans.

Biermans initially built up trade with India and South-East Asia (Burma) and business prospered until the competition became fierce and India became independent. After that Biermans expanded into other markets, winning several exhibition medals and also registering a patent for rounded and gilded corners.

Eventually the firm was merged into Carta Mundi. The Lion (right) was one of Biermans’ many trade marks.

From the beginning Biermans produced a wide range of playing cards which were shipped all over the world. An 1877 export price-list mentions Cartes de Luxe, Impériales, Royales, Italiennes, Belges, Allemandes, Bongoût, Espagnoles, and others. After 1900 Biermans also produced Swiss, Oriental and Congress cards, English packs, Spanish packs, Chinese cards, children’s cards and domino cards. In many cases packs contained scenic aces with views of Belgium, Brasil, France, Germany, Switzerland, Portugal or Holland which appealed as tourist souvenirs. See: Lion Brand No.1492 for Jet Fuels

Modern Netherlands type playing cards for Germany, c.1880

Above: finely engraved modern Netherlands type playing cards with scenic aces for Germany, stencil-coloured lithography, no indices, Biermans c.1880

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    Above: finely engraved modern Netherlands type playing cards with scenic aces for Germany, stencil-coloured lithography, no indices, Biermans c.1880

• See also: Biermans Scenic Aces for Brasil, c.1920

A Todos Alumbra Spanish-suited playing cards, c.1880

Above: cards from Spanish-suited pack, made in Belgium by Léonard Biermans c.1880.   more →

English playing cards, c.1910

Above: double-ended English pattern playing cards with ace of spades mimicking the Old Frizzle duty Ace, crude quality stencilling on rough card, produced by Biermans, c.1910.

Above: “Quadrilato No.44” Genoese style playing cards manufactured by Leonard Biermans S.A. for Tunisia, c.1970.

Great Mogul Tennis playing cards, c.1926 Box from Great Mogul Tennis playing cards, c.1926

Above: Great Mogul Tennis No.1926 playing cards, c.1926.

This is a very odd deck in that some of the backs are green, some pink and some blue. It has been conjectured that the deck is a salesman’s sample deck, used to exhibit the variety of back colours available. It is strange, however, that whenever I have seen the deck for sale, it is always described as having the same variety of coloured backs. I have never found the deck with just one colour backs, always the sample version. The brand has the number 1926 which, coincidentally, is the year of the deck. The side of the box discloses that the maker is Leonard Biermans, Turnout, Belgium. Images and notes courtesy Rod Starling.

Last Updated August 19, 2016 at 04:08pm

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