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Playing cards from Finland

Playing cards from Finland. Finnish cards have a relatively short history, presumably because the country only finally broke loose from Russian influence in 1920.

Above: non-standard Lyxspelkort playing cards for Finland, c.1930s, chromolithography by F. Tilgmann.

Above: Turun Linna Playing Cards, made in Finland, c.1960. The court cards feature people from Finnish history. Later editions were made by Piatnik for Finland. The cards are barrel-shaped, 52 cards + 2 jokers. The backs show Turku castle, one of the largest surviving medieval buildings in Finland.   More →

Above: deck depicting Napoleonic characters on the court cards. Reverse: blue/white advert for Vesipuisto Lahnajärvi. 52 barrel-shaped + 2 jokers + blank card.

Above: Finnair souvenir playing cards made by Tactic.

Above: Spectrum World Tour Quiz card game published by Tactic Group for Finnair.

Above: postage stamps on every card, made in Finland by Nelostuote Oy.

Finnish cards have a relatively short history, presumably because the country only finally broke loose from Russian influence in 1920. The Finns differ from the rest of the Scandinavians in ethnic background and language, but Finland belonged to Sweden for several hundred years, and since a reconciliation with Sweden was made, many decks are bi-lingual.

A pricelist by G. O. Wasenius of Helsinki from the 1850s includes ‘fine, engraved’ playing cards and ‘seconds’ for half the price.

The most common form of indices is 13, 12, 11, 10, 9... etc. but in some cases the indices are: K, R and D or K, D and S.

Traditional ‘Happy Families’ card games like Pekka-Peli have been played by Finnish children for decades. A new culturally aware version of this traditional card game, called ‘Reshuffle’, has recently been created by Reetta Hiltunen.

There are various Finland Souvenir packs, as well as several special packs published by Finnair, Image style magazine, Vesipuisto, etc.

See also: Vegas Nite Roulette

Above: “VR-VISA” playing cards.

Above: “Kuningas Artturin Ritarit” (King Arthur’s Knights) playing cards designed by Mauri Kunnas.

“Big Face” playing cards by Tactic, Finland, 2015

Above: “Big Face” playing cards by Tactic, Finland, 2015. The box text is all in English, as are the indices on the court cards (K,Q,J) and Aces (A). Images courtesy Matt Probert.

Above: Finnair playing cards by Piatnik.

Above: Finland souvenir playing cards by Tactic.

Above: Finnair playing cards by Tactic.

Above: Finnair playing cards by Tactic.

Above: pricelist by G. O. Wasenius of Helsinki, c.1850. Image courtesy Jukka Kettunen.

NOTE: thanks to Jukka Kettunen for contributing Wasenius pricelist and images of Finnair & Finland souvenir decks.

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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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