“L'Union Fait la Force”, sometimes known as “the Allied pack”, has the four suits dedicated to the victorious nations of the Second World War.
Artistic playing cards with abstract designs by Renée Sturbelle, first published by Brepols S.A., Turnhout, 1947, possibly reprinted in c.1960. The designs are hand-drawn ink drawings coloured red, blue and black. 52 cards + Joker.
Van Genechten manufactured playing cards in various styles, including specially customised versions for commercial clients wishing to advertise their own brands on the cards.
One of the outstanding and most popular packs made by the Turnhout cardmakers was the Bongoût type. Special scenic Aces could be added to packs according to the client's preferences.
The Mesmaekers firm had been established in Turnhout in 1859 by the partnership of Gustaaf Mesmaekers and Louis-François Moentack. In 1862 Moentack withdrew from the partnership, leaving Gustaaf Mesmaekers who then turned to his two brothers for their support to continue the business.
Advertising pack for Cerveza El Gallo, made in Belgium, c.1880
Léonard Biermans had been employed by Brepols from 1871-1874 before opening his own playing card factory in 1875.
40-card "A Todos Alumbra - Naypes Refinos" pack manufactured by Léonard Biermans, Turnhout, c.1880.
In 1875 the lithographic stone for Mesmaekers' Spanish cards was simply redesigned from a woodcut, despite the differences in technique and craftsmanship required for each method.
'A Todos Alumbra' Spanish-suited Playing Cards manufactured by Van Genechten, c.1920
Anonymous.Spanish-suited Playing Cards
The design is purely 'Parisian' but the colouring is green, red, yellow and black. Belgium has taken this pattern for general use.
Portuguese type pack with 'dragon' aces made in Belgium by Mesmaekers Frères, Turnhout, c.1875-1900
Belgian manufacturers were competing against Spanish makers. Features of the traditional Spanish designs, including many well-known brands, were imitated or plagiarised. Often they were anonymous so as to avoid importation duties in the destination country.