The Game of Four Queens

The Game of Four Queens designed and created by Thomas Damkier, 1988

In 1988 the Danish School of Design set the examination project to design a pack of playing cards. All students passed the examination. Thomas Damkier was the designer of this royalty deck, which he called “Dronningespillet” (Game of Queens) since his concept was based upon the - at that time - four reigning queens: (in alphabetical order by kingdom) Margerethe II of Denmark, Elizabeth II of Great Britain, Beatrix of the Netherlands and Ntambi of Swaziland.

One of Thomas Damkier's ideas was to create a closer relation between the design of the courts and the number cards. The geometrical forms used for the number card designs are derived from the suit marks and the same forms are repeated in the appropriate court card designs. The Queens are framed in cropped versions of the suitmarks, the Kings and Princes again are framed by derived variations of the same forms. The number cards are divided into high and low values. Spades and Hearts are smaller than Clubs and Diamonds. The four lions on the Jokers are lions that - except for the African lion - can be found in the respective countries' heraldry.

Instead of using the elaborate laminated boards that the other students used for their presentations, Thomas Damkier, who was disabled, succeeded in presenting his work as a proper card deck.

Thomas Damkier died of sclerosis a few years later.


Jensen, K. Frank: Royalty on Danish Playing Cards, The Playing-Card vol.32 no.1, IPCS, July-Aug 2003.

Images and notes courtesy K. Frank Jensen, who was one of the external examiners of the project and whose article describing the cards forms the basis of this page.

Last Updated April 06, 2019 at 05:40pm


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