The Queens, who wear short sleeved dresses with bonnets adorned with chin straps and roses, hold a rose, a fan, a bird or a letter.
Based upon one of the oldest ‘standard’ patterns, the Kings and Queens are three-quarter length figures whilst the Jacks are full-length with legs giving the impression that they are walking about!
The deck has Italian indices (A, R, D, F) and was probably produced for the Italian market. The four scenic Aces are double-ended and illustrate buildings relevant to the history of the Medici dynasty.
In this version an explanatory verse is printed at the top of each card.
Another of Dondorf's masterpieces of chromolithography, the detailed artwork on these cards has multiple tints and highlights giving the figures a brilliant, glossy character.
A new ‘medieval look’ is intended to suggest the power and virtue of the German character. The Kings lead the church and the army, protecting the empire; the noble Queens represent the power of love, domestic virtues and art; the Jacks portray chivalry, hunting, poetry and music.
Although not historically accurate this example is subtitled “Stuart period”, with rich costumes for the Kings who resemble little emperors; luxurious accessories for the Queens and flamboyant Jacks all creating associations with an imaginary period sometime before the French Revolution.
Dondorf's “L'Hombre No.60” was manufactured for the Danish firm Adolph Wulff of Copenhagen between c.1910-1930.
Dondorf's ‘Einköpfige Deutsche Spielkarte No.303’ (‘Single-ended German Playing Cards’) were produced during the period 1900-1930. As the title suggests, the cards are single-ended with German suit symbols (acorns, bells, hearts & leaves). The numeral cards have charming illustrations of rural scenes.
These designs imitating late medieval costumes were published by B. Dondorf in Germany in various editions between 1889-1933 as Mittelalter No.150, 151 and 135. At first there were no indices, but after 1906 corner indices were added (A, K, D, B). Usually there was no Joker.
“Cartes Comiques”, published by B. Dondorf, 52 cards (no Joker), printed by chromolithography, square corners, 65mm x 94mm, c.1870-1888. The reverse shows Cinderella and the Prince in a casement, their faces forming a Heart and Diamond, with Club and Spade in vignettes below.
The designs are a meld between the standard international pattern and German-style French-suited cards. Elements from various other standard patterns can be detected. This attempt to create a new standard pattern unfortunately was not a success.
The court cards in this well designed double-ended pack are realistically dressed in 16th century costumes with German suit symbols. The Kings and high ranking personnel are strict and austere. The farm workers and artisans remind us that the early 16th century was also the time of The German Peasants' War. Published during the period c.1926-1933. The reverse shows Prussian eagles.
The Valets in this deck appear in costumes of the Biedermeier period, portraying sentimental and pious poses, designed with graceful, curving lines but in keeping with the iconography of traditional German playing card patterns.
There have been many variations in the design of “Club Karte” including the introduction of borders, corner indices and rounded corners, and variations in the inscriptions on the Aces over the years. This edition, with delicately chromo-lithographed flesh tones and colours, was produced by Dondorf during the period 1860-68.
This pack was probably the culmination of a mixture of designs from 19th century Germany which emerged as one of Dondorf's more popular house patterns by around 1900
After the Second World War, the deck continued to be produced both by the VEB Altenburger Spielkartenfabrik as “Rokoko” and by ASS-Spielkartenfabrik, Leinfelden-Echterdingen as “Baronesse”.
Dondorf's 'Four Continents' Patience, c.1910
Stylistically, the deck fits easily into the Dondorf “luxury card” group. The deck was produced for the Danish firm Adolph Wulff of Copenhagen in c.1928-35.
Stylistically, the deck fits easily into the Dondorf “luxury card” group. The deck has been produced for the Danish firm Adolph Wulff of Copenhagen, also for F. Tilgmann in Helsinki, and a Swedish version by Öberg & Son, Stockholm.
Promotional playing cards printed by Dondorf for Saks & Company, New York, late 1920s.
First published in c.1870, children are presented in these miniature Patience cards disguised as Kings, Queens and Jacks. The Kings' crowns are slightly over-sized for their heads and the children are wearing false beards.
Dondorf's Luxus-Spielkarte “Vier-Erdteile” (“Four Continents”) was first published in c.1870 and has been re-published in several editions, variations and formats since then.
The four suits are associated with four countries: Clubs = Germany, Diamonds = UK, Spades = Russia and Hearts = France. Each pictorial Ace shows two nationally symbolic buildings from each country. The court cards follow the same format.
Whist No. 32 - Cartas de Jogar Nunes
“Cartes Lenormand” published by H. P. Gibson & Sons Ltd, London, printed in Germany by B. Dondorf, 1920s.
Dondorf Poker-Karte No. 195, re-issued as Poker No. 140 for the "Argentina Compañia General de Navegación Sociedad Anónima", 1920s
French-suited tarot cards made by B. Dondorf, c.1870.
Spanische Spielkarten "Naipes Finos" No.304, manufactured by B. Dondorf designed by the catalan artist Apel-les Mestres, Barcelona, 1902.
Card-playing rapidly became popular in medieval Bavaria and German printers were quick to supply the goods.