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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.

Luxus Club Karte No.184

Another of Dondorf's masterpieces of chromolithography, the detailed artwork on these cards has multiple tints and highlights giving the figures a brilliant, glossy character.

B. Dondorf: Luxus Club Karte No.184   (first published c.1900)

B. Dondorf (1833-1933), Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Another of Dondorf's masterpieces of chromolithography, the detailed artwork on these cards has multiple tints and highlights giving the figures a brilliant, glossy character. The fabric of the clothes looks like velvet, the metal parts of the crown, sceptre and armour seem highly polished. The young men appear tender, young and handsome whilst the Kings have shining hair and beards. All the eyes are shining. Later editions of this deck are no longer printed so carefully, the colours blend into each other, their brilliance greatly reduced.

Dondorf's 'Luxus Club Karte No.184' Dondorf's 'Luxus Club Karte No.184'

Above & right: cards from Dondorf's 'Luxus Club Karte No.184' published c.1900 to 1916 and also exported to Denmark through the agent D. Voigt & Co. 52 cards + Joker in box; 92x60mms. Images courtesy Barney Townshend.


REFERENCES

Hoffmann, Detlef and Dietrich, Margot: "Die Dondorf'schen Luxus-Spielkarten", Harenberg, Dortmund 1983.