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Published September 06, 2016 Updated July 17, 2023

Parisian Actors and Opera Singers

Extraordinary ‘Actors and Opera Singers’ deck printed by Avril et Cie, Paris, c.1865

1865 France Avril et Cie Adolphe Bilordeaux Fashion & Costume Music Photography Add to Collection

This extraordinary ‘Parisian Actors and Opera Singers’ deck was printed by Avril et Cie, Paris, in around 1865. The photographs were taken by the famous French lithographer and photographer Adolphe Bilordeaux (1807-1872) who pioneered the use of salt print technique on waxed paper. Gouache was added to the cards to highlight the suit symbols as colour photography was not then possible. A similar set can also be seen on the Bibliothèque Nationale de France website here

Stanislas-Désiré Avril produced a series of fashionable costume packs, including designs inherited from O. Gibert and other Parisian card makers, and was active 1862-1868.

Parisian Actors and Opera Singers deck printed by Avril et Cie, Paris, c.1865 Parisian Actors and Opera Singers deck printed by Avril et Cie, Paris, c.1865 Parisian Actors and Opera Singers deck printed by Avril et Cie, Paris, c.1865 Parisian Actors and Opera Singers deck printed by Avril et Cie, Paris, c.1865

Above: Parisian Actors and Opera Singers deck printed by Avril et Cie, Paris, c.1865. From the collection of Nick Thomas.

Parisian Actors and Opera Singers deck printed by Avril et Cie, Paris, c.1865

The numerical cards are not photographic images but were printed the traditional way.

Parisian Actors and Opera Singers deck printed by Avril et Cie, Paris, c.1865

The figures on the cards are fairly easily traceable and have been identified in Klaus-Jürgen Schultz (2011).

  • See: Klaus-Jürgen Schultz (2011)

    Page 246 from: Schultz, Klaus-Jürgen, Schauspiel Literatur Malerei Musik auf Spielkarten, Hamburg 2011. Catalogue number 41 [vol. 2].

    Description by Klaus-Jürgen Schultz, 2011
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773 Articles

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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