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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.

Baronesse Whist No.160

After the Second World War, the deck continued to be produced ​​both by the VEB Altenburger Spielkartenfabrik as “Rokoko” and by ASS-Spielkartenfabrik, Leinfelden-Echterdingen as “Baronesse”.

Dondorf: “Baronesse” Whist No.160

All the court figures in this very popular design wear white powdered wigs and velvet clothing; the ladies wear pearl necklaces and low-cut dresses, revealing their décolletages. The deck first appeared sometime in the early 1900s. After the Second World War, the deck continued to be produced both by the VEB Altenburger Spielkartenfabrik as “Rokoko” and by ASS-Spielkartenfabrik, Leinfelden-Echterdingen as “Baronesse”. The same designs were used in "Patience Cards for Women N 130" by Faustino Solesio of Genoa, c. 1944/1945.

This pack had many editions including some in patience format and was exported in large numbers and different formats, with indices tailored for their destination country. In some cases the suit signs are transposed to different figures (click image to see example). The early editions are fine examples of Dondorf's marvellous chromolithography. The example shown here has no indices; corner indices started to appear around 1906, when the company name changed to Dondorf GmbH.

Dondorf's “Baronesse” Whist No.160, first published c.1900 Dondorf's “Baronesse” Whist No.160, first published c.1900

Above: cards from Dondorf's “Baronesse” Whist No.160, first published c.1900. The patience version was called No 164 Patience Karten. The inscription on the Jack of Clubs reads: "B. Dondorf / Frankfurt a/M". Printed by chromolithography; 52 cards + 2 Jokers in box; 92mm x 60mm.  (Click image to zoom).  Images courtesy Barney Townshend.

Later editions of Baronesse Patience were published by A.S.S. trading as Ace Playing Card Company, Leinfelden and also “Coeur”, containing the same court card designs and three jokers.

See also: Piatnik Rococco Mini-Patience

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By Barney Townshend

Member since October 06, 2015

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Retired Airline Pilot, interested in: Transformation Playing Cards, Karl Gerich and Elaine Lewis. Secretary of the EPCS. Treasurer of the IPCS.

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Baronesse Whist No.160

Baronesse Whist No.160

After the Second World War, the deck continued to be produced ​​both by the VEB Altenburger Spielkartenfabrik as “Rokoko” and by ASS-Spielkartenfabrik, Leinfelden-Echterdingen as “Baronesse”.