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53: Some recent acquisitions

When I get new items for my collection, I sometimes add images and information about them to already existing pages. But I thought that it might be an interesting exercise to list some of my recent acquisitions and say why it is that I wanted to keep them in my collection. I wasn't quite sure where to include the first examples, though. I've just come back from Crete and was interested to see what cards were available. I'm only going to keep one for my collection, but I thought I'd include these observations here.


We stayed in a small village on the south coast, Khóra Sfakíon, in the district of Sfakiá, so I didn't expect a great range of offerings. Besides the ubiquitous scenic packs and the Greek Lovers packs based on Ancient Greek erotic images on vases, everything else was either Chinese or Italian. It surprised me that the Italian cards varied so much in price. I bought a standard, wide Dal Negro pack for €1.80 and yet in another shop down the road Modiano cards were selling for €6.80. The latter were probably all plastic. And then there are the tricks played by the Chinese. There was a Las Vega Casino pack with the Modiano joker on box, claimed to be the firm's trademark. Inside was an ordinary Chinese version of the USPCC US7 poker cards, which I illustrate below.

Not only that, but there was another trademark on the bottom of the box showing Panko Carta. No mention of China, but note that these Chinese cards cost more than the better quality Italian ones! When we went to Khaniá, the second largest city on the north coast, to fly home, I saw more variety of brands, but they were editions I already knew from England, so didn't bother buying any more. Sad, but interesting in a way.

Recent acquisitions

045: De La Rue D6 with double-ended number cards (Type 4 pips), c.1875-80. This pack has been in my collection since the early 1960s; it came with two other Owen Jones packs in a silk-lined, polished applewood box. Note the missing small heart by the KH's cuff at one end. I have recently acquired five further packs of this type, but with backs that may or may not be by Jones, though they are clearly inspired by him. (Don't forget, he died in 1874.)

Top: 045a: De La Rue D6; bottom: 1930: De La Rue D6 from a Rubicon bézique set, different pip orientation on some number cards vis-à-vis the backs (see 7C: 5/2 versus 2/5). This set is interesting because it must be a late example of square-cornered cards, as the term Rubicon was only introduced in Britain for the four-pack version of the game in 1887, and the name is on the box. There is an accompanying book of rules (hard-bound, large size) by Cavendish dated in that year. For design details of the KS and JD, see page 28.

385: As most collectors no doubt do, when I get a better copy of a pack already in my collection, I swap it for the one I already have. So this pack is a replacement for an incomplete one by Hall. It only has 32 cards, so was presumably used for piquet (too early for bézique). The KH is interesting in that his sword has been removed. This is the section which normally has the initials 'HC' carved on it, probably indicating the block-maker, Henry Crick. The pack dates from c.1812.

554a: I have other examples of this court design, which first appeared before WWI. It's a rather unusual redrawing of Goodall's standard wide courts. The idea was to introduce large indices. It was often boxed, as in this case, as '1909'. However, this pack, which came from a bridge set, has the De La Rue version of the AS with "Registered Trademark" at the top and what is the most significant card: the bridge score card with the 1935 scores for no trumps. So, this is evidence that this particular brand and design continued until WWII. This ties in with the courts I've seen at Holton Air Museum (Suffolk) with hidden maps; I wrote a short note for The Playing Card about them a few years ago.

1837: USPCC's Trophy Whist in its original version, 1895. I had one years ago, but got rid of it, so here it is again. This is an idiosyncratic redrawing of the standard design with several of the traditional features recognizable. This is No.39x, so has gold edges. Whether they were not popular, I don't know, but they soon reverted to standard courts (US1.1), but retained the large indices.

1838: Reynolds double-ended wood-block (R4) for the Prince of Wales. I have two other examples, but this one has a post-Frizzle AS, so it was probably reissued c.1863 for the Prince's wedding. It's a nice example of old-fashioned cards still being produced when other makers had much more up-to-date designs. It's in fairly poor condition, having been attacked by damp, but will I see another one?

1840: Goodall, early four corner indices with a clear New Zealand tax stamp from 1884. Nice confirmation that these indices and the cut-down courts were used throughout the 1880s. Several of the WCMPC packs from this decade have them, too.

1845: Reynolds (mostly) Type I with Garter AS. This pack originates from c.1810. Sadly, it's a mixed pack with three of the ubiquitous Hunt HB1 courts added during the 1820s (JC & QH above).

1862: VSS with Bechstein trademark, copy of USPCC US3 but with six turned courts, c.1910. I have an example with unturned courts.

1869 & 1870: Both packs from a bazique box from around the time the firms were getting together as NYCC. 1869 is a close copy of De La Rue's D4.1 and 1870 is a copy of Goodall's G3. Difficult to know whether they were both originally in the wooden box together. c.1868

1871: Wüst copy of Goodall's G4, c.1890, 32 cards. This has a Turnhout AS, but the quality of the card is better than most Belgian productions of the period. The numbers on the red cards are printed in black and 10 = X. I've known this pack for some time and now I've managed to get one!

1872: Dondorf Forcolor (notice the different spelling from the US pack below by Arrco: Forcolar [1874]). Only three figures are used for the different suits: those of the KC, QC & JS without a hat, but there are different colour schemes on the clothing. A coloured version of their standard joker, which is usually in black and white. c.1928.

1873: Frommann & Morian with courts and AS based on Goodall's design, c.1931. I've had a conjuring pack with these courts for a long time, but several of them are different at each end and there's no example of the JD. So, this fills a nice gap.

1874: Arrco for Forcolar, 1947. Lacks the AS. I have another version of this pack with the same courts, but orange, not yellow diamonds and no initials on the suit signs. This may be the first version, while the simplified one came later.

1877: Now, here's a strange one. Carta Mundi, but made in England, presumably at the Games & Print factory, using GPS courts. These were made for Ted Baker and purport to be magical. There's an instructions slip inside the box for four "tricks", but the cards themselves don't seem to have been doctored in any way. But they do have square corners! They were boxed and cello-wrapped, but may have been a test print; though, if so, why bother to wrap them? They probably date from c.2015. Other packs I have made for Ted Baker are from China and have courts which are copied from the Italian version of Goodall's design, but in unusual colours.

1891: Charles Steer is not exactly a common maker. I never thought I'd get one of these, so a well-worn, incomplete example is fine by me. They are exactly the same as the cards sold by Perry but with Steer's name on the AS. The back design is one which I have in different colours on a Whitaker export pack and is similar to one used by Lawrence & Cohen in monochrome. Steer was taken over by Willis in 1869, so these date from c.1865.

1894: Mirakel celluloid pack for poker, c.1930. A modernized version of the court design used by Piatnik and other continental companies at this time, based on NYCC's US6.1. The redrawing has obscured quite a bit of the traditional clothing. The KH is differently proportioned from the other courts, as he has been given a diagonal sash to wear with the full name of the firm who made the cards. The other courts have a suggestion of the Austrian large crown pattern. You can see from the shadows on the scan that the cards are bowed.

1903: Early post-Frizzle version of Goodall G3 with a different style of writing at the base of the AS and an unusual back design, c.1864

1905: Now here's a funny one! Belgian, c.1880-1900. The courts have been turned to put all pips on the left, except that someone seems to have got the instructions wrong and has turned the QH, so that her pip is on the right. The only Belgian maker I know to have turned single-figure courts is van Genechten, but the AS is one used by Mesmaekers. So this is a difficult one to work out. The courts are definitely in the style of van Genechten, even down to details such as the mark on the neck of the QC, so did they also copy the AS from Mesmaekers? The Turnhout makers seem to have copied one another as much as they copied other foreign makers, so just about anything is possible. Still, I like the quirky QH!

1907: An interesting tax-dodging pack by Woolley or Sabine. The pack includes a blank for the AS with a matching back and the pip cards are printed rather than stencilled. The courts are the same as those by Woolley & Sabine on the plainbacks site (F16). Probably from the 1840s after the partners had split in 1839.

1911: Another Fuller pack with Type I courts similar to Hunt's, Old Frizzle, c.1830

1912: China made for Spain, ubiquitous copy of Whitman courts with redrawn faces, added moustaches and new colours on the clothing, 2017

1923: Goodall with AS3 (upright feather). The JS has black in the centre of his sleeve roundels, which indicates that this is an early G3 pack, as this feature disappeared fairly quickly after Old Frizzle finished. So this pack is an interesting combination of AS3 and the black-sleeved jack; it probably dates from no later than 1864. All my other AS3 packs have no black on the JS's sleeve.

1931: Goodall for the Worshipful company, 1903. G6 courts with coloured faces, uncommon with this court design. The interesting thing for me is that 3S and 8C have been printed upside-down to the fronts (1/2 and 3/5 instead of 2/1 and 5/3). This is unusual in such an expensive pack and must indicate that the printer put those cards in the forme upside-down to the others. I have no interest in the WCMPC back designs, though some of the early ones are well produced; this particular one is a typical representation of the face of British imperialism of the period.

Top: 1932: a pack of Goodall Chancellors with the brand on a less common AS and jasmine as the back design, c.1880 Bottom: 1933: yet another De La Rue pack with D6 courts and double-ended pips; the back could be by Owen Jones, though the pack dates from after 1875.

1935: A tricky one! Given the back design, this could be by Catel & Farcy, though their courts are usually based on NYCC US7, not Whitman's as here. Also, there's a printing error on some of the backs: instead of 'CIE' on the flag, on some cards at one end the bottom foot of the 'E' has not been printed, resulting in 'CIF'. The pack is probably from c.1950.

1936: At last I've got one! Flemming-Wiskott No. 551 Whist-Karte, c.1930. Slightly more used than the one illustrated, but without the corners cut off.

1937: Now this is a really tricky one. Good Luck cards with Mardon on the AS and box - nothing to do with Mardon, Son & Hall! The courts have hints of Piatnik's design, so it could be from Eastern Europe, Artex perhaps, who used these squared indices in some packs. The back looks familiar (shipping line?) but I can't track it down. c.1950.

Last Updated November 17, 2018 at 01:52pm


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