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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.

Skat Express

One end Berlin pattern the other standard English pattern

Skat Express, one end Berlin pattern the other end standard English pattern.

Skat Express, one end Berlin pattern the other standard English pattern Skat Express, one end Berlin pattern the other standard English pattern

Above: Skat Express, one end Berlin pattern the other standard English pattern, evidently well sponsored by leading brands. Images courtesy Rex Pitts.


ISPA Skat

This one is also a skat pack but a bit odd, one end is similar to the Berlin pattern but the other end is more modern looking (look for curly moustacheos on all the males!). ISPA is International Skat Players Association

ISPA Skat deck

Above: ISPA Skat deck. The box has two sides, each with just the card back design and nothing else except ”ISPA” on the tuck flap. Courtesy Rex Pitts.

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By Rex Pitts (1940-2021)

Member since January 30, 2009

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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.

Recommended

Luxus Skatkarte Nr.1134

Luxus Skatkarte Nr.1134

Luxus Skatkarte Nr.1134 printed by Brepols for Germany, c.1940s.

Loriot Rummy

Loriot Rummy

Delightful comical deck designed by Loriot, the German cartoonist and comedian, 1973.

Kaffeehaus-Pikett

Kaffeehaus-Pikett

Kaffeehaus-Pikett featuring the old Viennese Large Crown pattern, made by ASS.

Hungarian Drinking Skat

Hungarian Drinking Skat

Hungarian Drinking Skat, c.2004.

Gundlach Skat No.100

Gundlach Skat No.100

Skat No.100 by E. Gundlach, Bielefeld, 1949.

64: The descendants of the French regional patterns: 2

64: The descendants of the French regional patterns: 2

A continuation of the development of the off-spring of the Paris patterns and a few examples of how the French regional figures have inspired modern designers.

63: The descendants of the French regional patterns: 1

63: The descendants of the French regional patterns: 1

A great many regional patterns were exported from France and subsequently copied elsewhere. Some of them became local standards in their own right.

62: French regional patterns: the queens and jacks

62: French regional patterns: the queens and jacks

Continuing our look at the figures from the regional patterns of France.

61: French regional patterns: the kings

61: French regional patterns: the kings

On page 11 I illustrated several examples of the regional French patterns from Sylvia Mann's collection; this is a more in-depth look at the figures of these patterns ("portraits" in French).

Modern English Court

Modern English Court

Modern English court style by Games & Print Services Limited, c.1997.

Leipzig Exhibition Skat, 1897

Leipzig Exhibition Skat, 1897

“Leipziger Skat-Karte” depicting scenes from the Leipzig Industry and Trade Exhibition designed by Arthur Lewin, 1897.

No.4 Special Whist

No.4 Special Whist

No.4 Special Whist (American Skat) playing cards made by the Russell & Morgan Printing Company, 1889.

Dal Negro Bridge set

Dal Negro Bridge set

Dal Negro Bridge set featuring old Vienna pattern courts.

Carte Romane

Carte Romane

“Carte Romane” designed by Giorgio Pessione, 1973, celebrating the history of Rome.

Sarde Pattern

Sarde Pattern

Sarde pattern published by Modiano, c.1975, based on early XIX century Spanish model.

Triestine Pattern

Triestine Pattern

The Triestine pattern is derived from the Venetian (Trevisane) pattern but with its own characteristics.

Trentine Pattern

Trentine Pattern

Trentine Pattern

Primiera Bolognese

Primiera Bolognese

Primiera Bolognese by Modiano, c.1975

Bergamasche Pattern

Bergamasche Pattern

Bergamasche Pattern by Modiano, 1970s.

Jonas Fouquet Navarra Pattern

Jonas Fouquet Navarra Pattern

Navarra Pattern by Jonas Fouquet, c.1720 and c.1820.

Navarra Pattern, 1682

Navarra Pattern, 1682

Navarra pattern produced for the Pamplona General Hospital Monopoly in 1682.

Hermanos Solesi

Hermanos Solesi

“Money Bag” pattern by Hermanos Solesi, late 18th c.

Mordillo Skat

Mordillo Skat

Mordillo Skat designed by Guillermo Mordillo, c.1979

Löwen Entertainment

Löwen Entertainment

Skat deck for Löwen Entertainment, producers of electronic gaming machines, 1986

Altenburger Bauerntrachten

Altenburger Bauerntrachten

“Altenburger Bauerntrachten” commemorating 150 years of playing cards from Altenburg, designed by Andreas Wachter, 1982.

Dvouhlavé Hrací Karty

Dvouhlavé Hrací Karty

“Dvouhlavé Hrací Karty” (Czech Seasons playing cards) made by Obchodní Tiskárny, c.1980.

Geprüfte Sicherheit

Geprüfte Sicherheit

Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Accident Research, 1978

Micky Mau~Mau

Micky Mau~Mau

Micky Mau~Mau by F. X. Schmid, 1978.

AGMüller English Pattern

AGMüller English Pattern

AGMüller standard English pattern for the Royal Jordanian Airline, 1980s

Georg Kapfler

Georg Kapfler

Antique deck of old Bohemian playing cards of the German type manufactured by Georg Kapfler and dated 1611.

Genovesi Pattern

Genovesi Pattern

Genoese pattern from Italy.

Angler Skat

Angler Skat

Angler Skat manufactured by VEB Altenburg, c.1981

Hunting Themed Skat

Hunting Themed Skat

German-suited hunting themed deck designed by Günter Schmitz and made by VEB Altenburg, 1980.

Modern Swiss-German Pattern

Modern Swiss-German Pattern

Modern Swiss-German Pattern by AGMüller, c.2000.

Skat Politisch

Skat Politisch

Political “Skat Politisch” published by ASS, 1976

Skat Express

Skat Express

One end Berlin pattern the other standard English pattern

Popular No.257

Popular No.257

Piatnik’s “Popular Playing Cards” No.257

Salzburger Pattern

Salzburger Pattern

Salzburger pattern by Ferd. Piatnik & Söhne, Vienna

Woolley & Co: “Second Harrys”

Woolley & Co: “Second Harrys”

Woolley & Co produced a range of different quality playing cards, and these “Second Harrys” are towards the cheaper end of the range.

Brepols Genoese pattern

Brepols Genoese pattern

“Cartes Françaises” and Genoese pattern by Brepols.