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Published July 14, 2013 Updated June 05, 2022

The Game of Four Queens

In 1988 the Danish School of Design set the examination project to design a pack of playing cards. Thomas Damkier designed this royalty deck, called “Dronningespillet” (Game of Queens).

1988 Denmark Thomas Damkier Art & Design Royalty Add to Collection

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.


REFERENCES

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.

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By Simon Wintle

Member since February 01, 1996

Founder and editor of the World of Playing Cards since 1996. He is a former committee member of the IPCS and was graphics editor of The Playing-Card journal for many years. He has lived at various times in Chile, England and Wales and is currently living in Extremadura, Spain. Simon's first limited edition pack of playing cards was a replica of a seventeenth century traditional English pack, which he produced from woodblocks and stencils.


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