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Playing cards have been with us since the 14th century, when they first entered popular culture. Over the centuries packs of cards, in all shapes and sizes, have been used for games, gambling, education, conjuring, advertising, fortune telling, political messages or the portrayal of national or ethnic identity. All over the world, whatever language is spoken, their significance is universal. Their popularity is also due to the imaginative artwork and graphic design which is sometimes overlooked, and the “then & now” of how things have changed.

Browsing manufacturer:

B. Dondorf

50 Articles

The luxury playing card factory founded in Frankfurt am Main by Bernhard Dondorf in 1833 existed for 100 years.

Schweizer Trachten

Schweizer Trachten No.174 (Costumes Suisses) by Dondorf.

Schweizer Trachten

Tout Est Bien Qui Finit Bien

‘Tout Est Bien Qui Finit Bien’ family card game by Dondorf.

Tout Est Bien Qui Finit Bien

Zwarte Piet

Zwarte Piet by Dondorf for the Dutch market, 1906.

Zwarte Piet

Flora

‘Flora’ card game published by C.W. Faulkner, printed by Dondorf, 1903.

Flora

Musikalisches Kartenspiel

Facsimile of Dondorf’s “Musikalisches Kartenspiel” (c.1862) published by Lo Scarabeo, 2004

Musikalisches Kartenspiel

Die Vogel-Welt No. 351

Dondorf’s “Die Vogel-Welt” No. 351 quartet game, c.1905

Die Vogel-Welt No. 351

Figures Amusantes

French language edition of a children's quartet game published by B. Dondorf, c.1900, consisting of 40 amusing illustrations of birds and animals with humorous captions.

Figures Amusantes

Pierre l’Ebouriffé

Heinrich Hoffmann (1809-1894) wrote the Struwwelpeter stories in 1847 for his son Carl. The stories quickly became famous and were translated into many languages...

Pierre l’Ebouriffé

Fruits et Légumes

The beautiful artwork in Dondorf's “Fruits et Légumes” quartet game reminds us of the benefits of natural food.

Fruits et Légumes

La Zoologie

Dondorf's “La Zoologie” card game no.335 features a collection of 40 chromolithographic prints of species of animals from around the world

La Zoologie

Jeu des Fleurs

Dondorf no.332: ‘Jeu des Fleurs’ French edition

Jeu des Fleurs

Wappen-Quartett

A coat-of-arms quartet game published by B. Dondorf, c.1900

Wappen-Quartett

Hauptstadte Spiel

Each Ace shows views of two European capital cities.

Hauptstadte Spiel

Fynste Java Speelkaarten

Dondorf's "Fynste Java Speelkaarten No.17" was published to commemorate the second marriage of King William III with Princess Emma of Waldeck-Pyrmont, on January 7, 1879.

Fynste Java Speelkaarten

Wahrsage-Karten

In this version an explanatory verse is printed at the top of each card.

Wahrsage-Karten

Whist No.178 ‘Stuart Zeit’

Although not historically accurate this example is subtitled “Stuart period”, with rich costumes creating associations with an imaginary period sometime before the French Revolution.

Whist No.178 ‘Stuart Zeit’

L'Hombre No.60

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

L'Hombre No.60

Einköpfige Deutsche Spielkarte No.303

Dondorf's ‘Einköpfige Deutsche Spielkarte No.303’ (‘Single-ended German Playing Cards’) were produced during the period 1900-1930.

Einköpfige Deutsche Spielkarte No.303

Mittelalter No.150

These designs imitating late medieval costumes were published by B. Dondorf in Germany in various editions between 1889-1933 as Mittelalter No.150, 151 and 135.

Mittelalter No.150

Cartes Comiques, 1870-1888

“Cartes Comiques”, published by B. Dondorf, printed by chromolithography, c.1870-1888.

Cartes Comiques, 1870-1888

B. Dondorf GmbH: Neue Klubkarte No.422

The designs are a meld between the standard international pattern and German-style French-suited cards. Elements from various other standard patterns can be detected.

B. Dondorf GmbH: Neue Klubkarte No.422

Deutsches Luxusbild

The court cards in this well designed double-ended pack are realistically dressed in 16th century costumes with German suit symbols. The Kings and high ranking personnel are strict and austere.

Deutsches Luxusbild

Gaigel-Karten

The Valets in this deck appear in costumes of the Biedermeier period, portraying sentimental and pious poses in keeping with the iconography of traditional German playing card patterns.

Gaigel-Karten

Club Karte

There have been many variations in the design of “Club Karte” including the introduction of borders, corner indices and rounded corners, and variations in the inscriptions on the Aces over the years.

Club Karte

Rhineland Pattern

This pack was probably the culmination of a mixture of designs from 19th century Germany which emerged as one of Dondorf's more popular house patterns by around 1900.

Rhineland Pattern

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.

Luxuskarte No.75

Saks-Werbespiel

Promotional playing cards printed by Dondorf for Saks & Company, New York, late 1920s.

Saks-Werbespiel

Kinder-Karte

First published in c.1870, children are presented in these miniature Patience cards disguised as Kings, Queens and Jacks. The Kings' crowns are slightly over-sized for their heads and the children are wearing false beards.

Kinder-Karte

Vier-Erdteile c.1870

Dondorf's Luxus-Spielkarte “Vier-Erdteile” (“Four Continents”) was first published in c.1870 and has been re-published in several editions, variations and formats since then.

Vier-Erdteile c.1870

Dondorf Tarot Court Cards

Dondorf Tarot Court Cards.

Dondorf Tarot Court Cards

Dondorf Tarot Aces

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

Dondorf Tarot Aces

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.

Dondorf Tarot

No.10 - Four Corners

Karl Gerich was a great admirer of playing cards produced by B. Dondorf and his tenth pack was inspired by Dondorf's “Luxus-Spielkarte Vier-Erdteile” (Four Continents Luxury Playing Cards) designed by Friedrich Karl Hausmann, 1870.

No.10 - Four Corners

Whist No. 32

Whist No. 32 - Cartas de Jogar Nunes

Whist No. 32

Cartes Lenormand

“Cartes Lenormand” published by H. P. Gibson & Sons Ltd, London, printed in Germany by B. Dondorf, 1920s.

Cartes Lenormand

Shakespeare Playing Cards

Shakespeare Playing Cards pack published in the 1890s with original paintings are by John H. Bacon.

Shakespeare Playing Cards

Poker No. 140

Dondorf Poker-Karte No. 195, re-issued as Poker No. 140 for the "Argentina Compañia General de Navegación Sociedad Anónima", 1920s

Poker No. 140

Tarot Microscopique

French-suited tarot cards made by B. Dondorf, c.1870.

Tarot Microscopique

“Naipes Finos” No.304 Spanish Pack

Spanische Spielkarten "Naipes Finos" No.304, manufactured by B. Dondorf designed by the catalan artist Apel-les Mestres, Barcelona, 1902.

“Naipes Finos” No.304 Spanish Pack