The German Saxon Pattern or “Schwerdter Karte”
Special Jugendstil playing cards designed by Otto Tragy and first published by Altenburger Spielkartenfabrik Schneider & Co. in c.1898.
The King of Acorns is supposed to represent Prince Otto; the King of Leaves is Maximilian II; the King of Bells is Ludwig II; the King of Hearts is Ludwig I wearing a general's uniform. The court cards are all male, but some of the numeral cards depict women.
Walter Scharff was of Jewish descent. After some early experiences working in a cardboard factory and printing business cards, Walter Scharff established a playing card factory in 1923 and published a small but elegant range of German, Swiss and French-suited decks. There was a lot of competition in the playing card industry in those days, and in 1931 his business was taken over by V.A.S.S.
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 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.
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.
Playing Cards by the Master of the Banderoles, one of the earliest professional printmakers, c.1470
“Cartes Lenormand” published by H. P. Gibson & Sons Ltd, London, printed in Germany by B. Dondorf, 1920s.
Bourgeois Tarot by Vereinigte Altenburger und Stralsunder Spielkarten-Fabriken.
Derived from Jagdkarten or Hunting cards with patriotic overtones and rural scenes as vignettes on the numeral cards, the Prussian pattern coincided with the emergence of politically ambitious Prussia in the middle of the nineteenth century. The figures are largely drawn from the Prussian bourgeoisie.
Mlle Lenormand Cartomancy deck made by Vereinigte Stralsunder Spielkartenfabriken, Stralsund, c.1890
Historical Deck made by Johann Conrad Jegel, Nürnberg, after 1850. Etching by G. Pommer, stencil coloured, 36 cards. The pip cards show scenes from the history of the German (Holy Roman) Empire.
Deck from the liberation war against Napoleon, unknown maker, c.1815.
Victory deck commemorating the Liberation war by Friedrich Gotthelf Baumgärtner, Leipzig, 1815
Fortune Telling Deck by Industrie Comptoir, Leipzig c.1818.
Schiller deck made by Conrad Ludwig Wüst, Frankfurt/Main, ca. 1830
"Verkehrte-Welt-Tarock” (reverse world ?) manufactured by Christian Theodor Sutor (fl. 1823-1854), Naumburg, around 1850.
Chur Ober-Pfälzische Französisch Karten by Joseph Losch, c.1800.
Narren-Karte by Christian Heinrich Reuter, Nürnberg, c.1860
Deck made by Johann Jobst Forster, Nürnberg, first half of 18th century in the Paris pattern
Deck manufactured by Johann Matheus Backofen, Nürnberg c.1800. Copper engraved stencil coloured deck of 52 cards with original wrapper.
Dondorf Poker-Karte No. 195, re-issued as Poker No. 140 for the "Argentina Compañia General de Navegación Sociedad Anónima", 1920s
Geistliche Karten, Augsburg, 1718. Each card carries a text in Gothic typeface giving advice regarding what to do and think each day. Not quite oracle or divination cards, they are more like 'a motto for the day' collection. The method of using the cards is not known.
French-suited tarot cards made by B. Dondorf, c.1870.
Swiss Album patience cards manufactured by C. L. Wüst (Frankfurt), c.1890, with a different landscape on the reverse of each card. The court cards depict costumed figures along with shields from the cantons.
Cards from a pack designed by Ludwig Burger, 1885
Spanische Spielkarten "Naipes Finos" No.304, manufactured by B. Dondorf designed by the catalan artist Apel-les Mestres, Barcelona, 1902.
The Book of Trades by the prolific German Renaissance artist Jost Amman (1539-91). Suits are books, printers' pads, wine-pots and drinking cups.
Seven cards from a satirical pack produced by Peter Flötner of Nuremberg, c.1545. The suit symbols are acorns, leaves, bells and hearts. The block-cutter and publisher was Franz Christoph Zell.
During the second half of the fifteenth century, with printing technology commercially established and playing cards already a mass-produced commodity, a succession of masterly German engravers practised their art and decorative playing cards reached a zenith.
The luxury, hand-painted Stuttgart Cards (Stuttgarter Kartenspiel) dated c.1430, with suits of ducks, falcons, stags and hounds suggestive of the chase.
Documentary evidence suggests that card playing established itself in Italy in 1376, and then spread rapidly northwards across the Alps into the Upper Rhine regions of Germany and Switzerland and westwards into France and Spain.
Animal suited playing cards engraved by the Master of the Playing Cards, Germany, c.1455-60, probably intended as models for use in workshops.
Conforming to an archaic format of 52 cards with banner 10s, female 'Sotas', horsemen and kings, the pack is of interest on account of a number of other packs with similar characteristics surviving elsewhere, suggesting an archaic 'prototype' for the Spanish-suited genre.
Card-playing rapidly became popular in medieval Bavaria and German printers were quick to supply the goods.