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Published March 06, 2023 Updated March 06, 2023

Maquettes for an unpublished WWI pack

Original designs depicting leaders and allegories from Russia, France, Great Britain and Belgium.

1915 Belgium France Anonymous Wartime Add to Collection

Finding original artwork for a published or an unpublished pack of cards is a rare occurrence. These maquettes from World War I were purchased at an antiques fair in Paris in the early 2000s. They depict real and allegorical figures representing the Triple Entente (Russia [S], France [D], and Great Britain [C]) plus Belgium (H). Because of the addition of Belgium and the general style of the designs, it is thought that these maquettes were probably the work of a Belgian artist, although they could possibly be French. In all, there are designs for 28 cards (H = A, K, Q, J, 10, 8, 7, 6, 4; S = A, K, Q, J, 9; D = A, K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7, 3; C = A, K, Q, J, 4). The court cards carry the following titles: H = ALBERT I, S.M. ELISABETH, GUIDE; S = NICOLAS II, TZARINE, COSAQUE; D = JOFFRE, RÉPUBLIQUE, POILU; C = GEORGES V, QUEEN MARY, TOMMY. Each Ace has two flags: H = Belgium, Serbia; S = Russia, Montenegro; D = France, Italy (but without the arms of Savoy); C = Great Britain, Japan. There is no artwork for any Jokers or for the back design. There is some foxing but otherwise the colours remain fresh.

Russia & Montenegro

Above: Russia, Montenegro.

France & Italy

Above: France, Italy (but without the arms of Savoy.

Great Britain, Japan

Above: Great Britain, Japan.

Belgium, Serbia

Above: Belgium, Serbia

NICOLAS II

Above: NICOLAS II.

JOFFRE

Above: JOFFRE.

GEORGES V

Above: GEORGES V.

ALBERT I

Above: ALBERT I.

TZARINE

Above: TZARINE

RÉPUBLIQUE

Above: RÉPUBLIQUE

QUEEN MARY

Above: QUEEN MARY

S.M. ELISABETH

Above: S.M. ELISABETH

COSAQUE

Above: COSAQUE

POILU

Above: POILU

TOMMY

Above: TOMMY

GUIDE

Above: GUIDE

Above: 16 from a total of 28 maquettes on stiff card by an unknown designer, probably Belgian, c1915. Overall size: 168.5 x 235 mm. Card size (black borders): 122 x 190 mm. From the collection of Roddy Somerville.

It is not known who the artist was or why the designs were never used for an actual pack. It could be that production simply wasn’t possible because of German confiscation of the means of production.

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By Roddy Somerville

Member since May 31, 2022

Roddy started collecting stamps on his 8th birthday. In 1977 he joined the newly formed playing-card department at Stanley Gibbons in London before setting up his own business in Edinburgh four years later. His collecting interests include playing cards, postcards, stamps (especially playing cards on stamps) and sugar wrappers. He is a Past President of the Scottish Philatelic Society, a former Chairman of the IPCS, a Past Master of the Worshipful Company of Makers of Playing Cards and Curator of the WCMPC’s collection of playing cards. He lives near Toulouse in France.


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