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Musikalisches Kartenspiel

Facsimile of Dondorf’s “Musikalisches Kartenspiel” (c.1862) published by Lo Scarabeo, 2004

Musical playing cards were popular since the 18th century, and dances were favourites. This facsimile of Dondorf’s “Musikalisches Kartenspiel” (c.1862) was published by Lo Scarabeo in 2004 as a homage to the Strauss dynasty which contributed significantly to the development of popular music with such pieces as “Blue Danube”. The court cards feature comical musicians, often with red noses, along with two bars from classical dance scores such as the waltz and polka. The images are in full colour on the 4 aces and 12 court cards, and muted tones on the number cards; the red suited number cards show animal musicians, the black ones feature dancers. The bottom of each card also features a suit symbol and rank indicator thus making the deck double-ended for play. See the Box

Dondorf’s “Musikalisches Kartenspiel” c.1862

Above: original ace of hearts with tax stamp.

Facsimile of Dondorf’s “Musikalisches Kartenspiel” (c.1862) published by Lo Scarabeo, 2004 Facsimile of Dondorf’s “Musikalisches Kartenspiel” (c.1862) published by Lo Scarabeo, 2004

Above: facsimile of Dondorf’s “Musikalisches Kartenspiel” (c.1862) published by Lo Scarabeo, 2004. The facsimile edition contains two jokers plus six extra description cards, not part of the original edition which contained 52 cards only. Images courtesy Rex Pitts.

The artwork appears to be by the same draughtsman who produced Cartes Comiques

Facsimile of Dondorf’s “Musikalisches Kartenspiel” (c.1862) published by Lo Scarabeo, 2004
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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.


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