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Sissi playing cards

Published June 17, 2024 Updated June 23, 2024

produced for the Austrian tourist market.

Austria Art Gallery Royalty Souvenir Add to Collection

This undated pack was acquired in Vienna in 2024, but has no indication of its date or country of publication. It is a modern pack (possibly Chinese?) produced for the Austrian tourist market.

Elisabeth (born Duchess Elisabeth Amalie Eugenie) in 1837 became Empress of Austria and Queen of Hungary following her marriage to Emperor Franz Joseph I in April 1854. She was nicknamed Sisi or Sissi until her assassination in 1898. Each of the 54 cards have images from photographs or paintings of Sissi, her husband Franz Joseph I, members of the royal family, courtly scenes, and associated palaces and artefacts (crown jewels, carriages etc.). Many of the images are reproduced from the paintings of Franz Xaver Winterhalter (e.g. queen of hearts; queen of diamonds; card backs). Several of the cards show some of the many sculptures created after her assassination (e.g. the memorial monument featuring a seated statue of the Empress by Hans Bitterlich on the 4 of spades, and others located in Italy and Slovakia on the 4 of hearts and the 4 of clubs). Franz Josef I features on the king of clubs. One of the jokers shows a photo collage with Franz Josef I in the centre, while the second shows a painting of the royal family. The pack is in a plastic box with an illustrated card sleeve. See the box

Sissi playing cards from Austria, undated Sissi playing cards from Austria, undated Sissi playing cards from Austria, undated Sissi playing cards from Austria, undated

Above: Sissi playing cards from Austria, undated.

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By Peter Burnett

Member since July 27, 2022

I graduated in Russian and East European Studies from Birmingham University in 1969. It was as an undergraduate in Moscow in 1968 that I stumbled upon my first 3 packs of “unusual” playing cards which fired my curiosity and thence my life-long interest. I began researching and collecting cards in the early 1970s, since when I’ve acquired over 3,330 packs of non-standard cards, mainly from North America, UK and Western Europe, and of course from Russia and the former communist countries.

Russian Playing Cards

Following my retirement from the Bodleian Library in Dec. 2007 I took up a new role as Head of Library Development at the International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications (INASP) to support library development in low-income countries. This work necessitated regular training visits to many sub-Saharan African countries and also further afield, to Vietnam, Nepal and Bangladesh – all of which provided rich opportunities to further expand my playing card collection.

Since 2019 I’ve been working part-time in the Bodleian Library where I’ve been cataloguing the bequest of the late Donald Welsh, founder of the English Playing Card Society.


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