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Published July 03, 1996 Updated March 16, 2022

Danish playing cards - Tarock trumps

Two versions of trump no.15 depicting the Thorvaldsen Museum.

Denmark Tarock

Below: two versions of trump no.15 depicting the Thorvaldsen Museum, completed in 1848. In the Salomon editions (right), Arabic numerals replace the Roman ones.

Images courtesy Hans Jørgen Hinrup and notes taken from his article published in The Playing-Card Vol.31, no.5, IPCS London, March-Apr 2003.


By Simon Wintle

Member since February 01, 1996

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Curator 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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1994 Dronning Margrethe II

Dronning Margrethe II

Elegant, elongated cards designed by Queen Margrethe II of Denmark.

1970 Nederlands Stedenkwartet

Nederlands Stedenkwartet

Nederlands Stedenkwartet with heraldic needlepoint patterns by Permin, c.1970.

1955 Cartas Gitanas

Cartas Gitanas

The designs of these fortune-telling cards are largely taken from nineteenth century Austrian "Rural Scenes" Tarock cards.

1905 Tarok c.1900

Tarok c.1900

Piatnik & Söhne “Industrie und Glück” Tarok c.1905-1910.

Warburg’s Danske

Warburg’s Danske

Warburg’s Danske playing cards published by Aktieselskabet Emil Jensen, København, 1944.

1935 Warburg’s Skandinaviske Bridge Kort

Warburg’s Skandinaviske Bridge Kort

“Warburg’s Skandinaviske Bridge Kort” published by Aktieselskabet Emil Jensen, København, c.1935.

Standard Handa Pattern

Standard Handa Pattern

Standard Danish playing cards made by Handa, Copenhagen.

Bjørn Wiinblad

Bjørn Wiinblad

Bjørn Wiinblad (1918-2006) was a Danish painter, designer and ceramics artist.

1906 Jugendstil Tarock

Jugendstil Tarock

‘Jugendstil Tarock’ was designed by Ditha Moser and first published by Albert Berger and Josef Glanz in 1906.

Animal Tarot

Animal Tarot

Woodblock and stencil Animal Tarot cards, probably of German origin, 2nd half 18th century.

P. Steinmann

P. Steinmann

Single-figure provincial Paris pattern cards with traditional names on the courts manufactured in Copenhagen by P. Steinmann, c.1820.

1860 Gnav


cards from an early 'Gnav' game made by C.L.Keiblinger, Copenhagen c.1860

C.L.Keiblinger, Copenhagen 1852-85

C.L.Keiblinger, Copenhagen 1852-85

C.L.Keiblinger, Copenhagen 1852-85

1988 The Game of Four Queens

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).

Jacob Holmblad c.1830

Jacob Holmblad c.1830

An amazing difference can be seen between the early and the later Jacob Holmblad packs, covering a time span of only 17 years.

Jacob Holmblad, 1820s

Jacob Holmblad, 1820s

The Q♥ has a butterfly net in which she has caught four hearts. Many of Holmblad's designs were replaced or changed in different editions, but this design was not used again.

Jacob Holmblad c.1820

Jacob Holmblad c.1820

Standard woodblock and stencil deck produced by Jacob Holmblad with double-ended court cards in the tradition of the French ‘Paris’ pattern. The A♥ features a red over-stamp referring to Jacob Holmblad's royal license to print playing-cards which had been granted in 1820.

Holmblad Animal Tarot

Holmblad Animal Tarot

Instead of the old emblematic designs, the trump cards show illustrations of animals, which could possibly have symbolic meanings or moralizing interpretations.

L. P. Holmblad, c.1845

L. P. Holmblad, c.1845

Holmblad ordered his earlier designs to be re-drawn and updated. Comparison of packs from this era show instances where one figure is replaced by another more imposing version.

1988 Christian IV Anniversary

Christian IV Anniversary

King Christian IV anniversary pack, designed by Thora Fisker and printed by L. Jevison Junior, 1988.

L. P. Holmblad c.1840

L. P. Holmblad c.1840

L. P. Holmblad's house pattern used from c.1840. The K♠ carries a harp as in the traditional French-type cards; but the J♠ is sleeping with his arms folded and his shield resting behind him.

1930 Warburg Luxus Bridgekort

Warburg Luxus Bridgekort

“Luxus Bridgekort” was specially designed by Barbara MacDonald in a vibrant Art Deco style for Warburg of Denmark in c.1930, and printed by Universal Playing Card Co. Ltd (England).

1918 Soldaten Tarock

Soldaten Tarock

Piatnik was known for their magnificent quality of chromo-lithographic printing, and this facsimile, or reprint, of “Soldaten Tarock No. 217” is virtually as magnificent as the original.

L'Hombre No.60

L'Hombre No.60

Dondorf's “L'Hombre No.60” was manufactured for the Danish firm Adolph Wulff of Copenhagen between c.1910-1930.

1928 Whist No.80

Whist No.80

Stylistically, the deck fits easily into the Dondorf “luxury card” group. The deck was produced for the Danish firm Adolph Wulff of Copenhagen in c.1928-35.

Luxuskarte No.75

Luxuskarte No.75

Stylistically, the deck fits easily into the Dondorf “luxury card” group. The deck has been produced for the Danish firm Adolph Wulff of Copenhagen, also for F. Tilgmann in Helsinki, and a Swedish version by Öberg & Son, Stockholm.

Dondorf Tarot Aces

Dondorf Tarot Aces

The four suits are associated with four countries: Clubs = Germany, Diamonds = UK, Spades = Russia and Hearts = France.

1870 Dondorf Tarot

Dondorf Tarot

Dondorf's “Microscopique Tarock“ was first published in c.1870. The scenes portrayed at each end of the trump cards are marvels of miniature graphic artwork and printing.

Bourgeois Tarot

Bourgeois Tarot

Bourgeois Tarot by Vereinigte Altenburger und Stralsunder Spielkarten-Fabriken.

1850 Verkehrte-Welt-Tarock


"Verkehrte-Welt-Tarock” (reverse world ?) manufactured by Christian Theodor Sutor (fl. 1823-1854), Naumburg, around 1850.

1815 Johann Herrl

Johann Herrl

Tarock deck made by Johann Herrl in Graz 1815.

1935 Holmblads No. 121

Holmblads No. 121

Holmblads No. 121 made by John Waddington, England, for Denmark

1910 Piatnik Tarock

Piatnik Tarock

Deck of "Industrie und Glück" or "Rural Scenes" tarock cards manufactured by Ferd Piatnik & Söhne, Vienna, c.1910.

Tarock Cards

Tarock Cards

The earliest Tarot decks originated in Italy in the fifteenth century, with Italian suit symbols. However the game was very popular elsewhere and tarots with French suit signs, usually called "tarok" or "tarock", appeared around 1750 which are now mainly produced in Austria.

1820 Estel Tarok

Estel Tarok

J. Estel Tarok, 1820.

1862 Pittner Tarok

Pittner Tarok

Ferd Pittner, Tarok Cards

1927 Western PCC

Western PCC

The Western Playing Card Company was formed in 1927. The exact history and origins are not clear.

1935 King Christian of Denmark

King Christian of Denmark

In 1935 a souvenir pack of playing cards to celebrate the King's 65th birthday was commissioned from the British firm of De La Rue.

L. P. Holmblad - Denmark

L. P. Holmblad - Denmark

Cards from c.1850 by L. P. Holmblad showing fantasy historical Danish Kings and Queens.

1960 Taroquis ‘Obelisco’

Taroquis ‘Obelisco’

78-card 'Taroquis Marca Obelisco' published by Mario Colombo, Buenos Aires, during the 1950s, 60s & 70s, in the style known as "Tarocco Piemontese" which had been developed by Italian cardmakers during the nineteenth century.