Gustaaf Mesmaekers founded his business in 1859 in association with Louis-François Moentack, who left the business in 1862. From 1958 the firm collaborated closely with Van Genechten, who finally took over the company in 1968, shortly before the foundation of Carta Mundi. Mesmaekers had a very large overseas market and a wide variety of designs, even of the English pattern. Some of the designs were similar to those of other Turnhout makers, others specific to that one firm.
For a full list of Mesmaekers cards in my collection, click here►
Their single-ended cards used De La Rue's D3 as a model, as did the other Turnhout makers, but they put a lot of effort into good quality versions.
They also produced a version with the designs of the QD and QC switched, which lasted for several years, produced in various grades.
The next one Mesmaekers shared with other makers, but this is a rather up-market version.They also made a cheaper version.
But they seem to have been the only maker to develop this design further with redrawings and turning six courts to put all the pips on the left.
They had two further designs of their own, one in which the JH has no halberd. This was used in a series of a brand called Jumbo with an elephant on the box. It was used from the 1880s until the 1930s in different versions. Jumbos, c.1885
The other design was also used over quite a length of time from c.1900-1930s. In this one the JC is looking to the left (his right), which makes him look a bit furtive!Early example without indices, c.1900
A variety of later versions, one with Dutch indices, one with a turned JS, c.1930
Mesmaekers, along with Van Genechten, went in for decorative back designs on the model of the English ones by various makers, although the printing quality was not so good. These examples are from a tatty sample book n my possession, some of which has been cut away, but it still gives an idea of what was on offer in the 1870s and 1880s.
They offered toy cards, too.
They also made some good quality wrappers.
A non-standard pack from the 1930s was Royal Dynasty, which commemorated the establishment of the independent Belgian state (1830) with pictures of different generations of the royal family.
See also pages 18, 21 & 22.
Member since May 14, 2012View Articles
I'm Ken Lodge and have been collecting playing cards since I was about eighteen months old (1945). I am also a trained academic, so I can observe and analyze reasonably well. I've applied these analytical techniques over a long period of time to the study of playing cards and have managed to assemble a large amount of information about them, especially those of the standard English pattern. Read more...
Pack of cards celebrating Allied Victory in the Second World War.
Another pack of Dutch costume playing cards c.1880.
Dutch costume playing cards made for the Dutch market in the second half of the 19th century.
Dubois card makers from Liège in the Walloon Region of Belgium.
Luxus Skatkarte Nr.1134 printed by Brepols for Germany, c.1940s.
Genoese pattern with Pictorial Aces for Brazil by Brepols, Turnhout, c.1920.
Railway Stations quartet game illustrated by Wim Dolk and published by Servex BV, Utrecht, 1975.
Dynastie Royale de Belgique by Mesmaekers, 1934.
Year of the Child commemorative deck designed by Jhan Paulussen, 1979.
A collection of 24 cigar bands with miniature playing cards.
“007 Die Another Day” James Bond themed playing cards, 2002.
Spectrum Bridge by Cartamundi
Calavera playing cards designed by Jirs Huygen for Cartamundi, 2015
Promotional playing cards designed by Wim Simons, Belgium, 1960s.
Anonymous archaic Spanish Suited pack, c.1760
Promotional deck designed by Ray Goossens for the Boerenbond farmers’ union, c.1968.
Humorous pharmaceutical deck made by Antoine van Genechten for Bayer, c.1963.
“Butagaz” playing cards for the French gas company, c.1976
Mickey for Kids playing cards from Disney.
Velux - la fenêtre de toit de qualité, c.1990.
Biermans Genoese pattern for Clayson agricultural machinery, late 1960s.
‘Cartes de Luxe’ with artwork by Belgian artist and designer Jean Borin (1907-1997).
Special deck made for La Banque Nationale de Paris by Van Genechten, Turnhout, c.1962.
Souvenir of Jahre Line Ferry M/S Kronprins Harald
British Airways Concorde playing cards made in Belgium by Carta Mundi, before 2003.
‘Cartes de Luxe’ first published by Biermans in 1877 was reproduced in facsimile by Amstel Beer in c.1980.
Dutch pattern advertising deck for Genever Giraf made by Van Genechten in the 1950s.
‘Piket Fijne Speelkaarten’ by La Turnhoutoise, c.1925-30.
BG Bouw Dutch Building Company publicity deck manufactured by Carta Mundi, c.1980.
Playing cards designed by Max Velthuijs for KLM airlines first published c.1964
Domino Cards by Mesmaekers Frères, c.1890
‘Millennium’ limited edition playing cards by Carta Mundi, 1999
“Le Jeu des Alliés” manufactured by Mesmaekers N.V., Turnhout, 1945.
“Food Exchange“ playing cards designed by Ralph Dobson for the British Diabetic Association.
Spanish-suited playing cards made in Belgium by Léonard Biermans, c.1875.
Standard English pattern manuf’d for L.N. Mann by Van Genechten, c.1890.
Advertising decks made in Belgium by A. Van Genechten, 1960s.
Four Colour Cards made in Belgium for Far Eastern markets
“Cartes Françaises” and Genoese pattern by Brepols.
Abbey Playing Cards made in Belgium by La Turnhoutoise, c.1950s.