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Published December 11, 2019 Updated March 12, 2023

Ethiopian Air Lines

Ethiopian Air Lines playing cards designed by Melles Habtezghi with courts wearing regional costumes, c.1969.

1969 Africa Ethiopia Nintendo Melles Habtezghi Aviation Ethnic & Indigenous Add to Collection
Ethiopian Air Lines playing cards designed by Melles Habtezghi, c.1969

Ethiopian Air Lines playing cards designed by Melles Habtezghi with English and Ethiopian indices on all cards. The back design shows the Lion of Judah at the centre of a series of concentric circles and ethnic motifs, with musical instruments all framed by a decorative border. The court cards are indigenous peoples wearing regional costumes decorated with similar symbols, with the same outlines used in each suit.

Ethiopian Air Lines playing cards designed by Melles Habtezghi, c.1969 Ethiopian Air Lines playing cards designed by Melles Habtezghi, c.1969

Above: Ethiopian Air Lines playing cards designed by Melles Habtezghi, manufactured by Nintendo, c.1969. 52 cards + 2 Jokers.

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By Rex Pitts (1940-2021)

Member since January 30, 2009

Rex's main interest was in card games, because, he said, they were cheap and easy to get hold of in his early days of collecting. He is well known for his extensive knowledge of Pepys games and his book is on the bookshelves of many.

His other interest was non-standard playing cards. He also had collections of sheet music, music CDs, models of London buses, London Transport timetables and maps and other objects that intrigued him.

Rex had a chequered career at school. He was expelled twice, on one occasion for smoking! Despite this he trained as a radio engineer and worked for the BBC in the World Service.

Later he moved into sales and worked for a firm that made all kinds of packaging, a job he enjoyed until his retirement. He became an expert on boxes and would always investigate those that held his cards. He could always recognize a box made for Pepys, which were the same as those of Alf Cooke’s Universal Playing Card Company, who printed the card games. This interest changed into an ability to make and mend boxes, which he did with great dexterity. He loved this kind of handicraft work.

His dexterity of hand and eye soon led to his making card games of his own design. He spent hours and hours carefully cutting them out and colouring them by hand.


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