Deutsches Schützenfest 1884 - German shooting festival 1884
This deck was apparently made to commemorate a Shooting Festival held in Leipzig in 1884 (see the Ace of Leaves). A Schützenfest (German “marksmen's festival”) is a traditional festival or fair featuring a target shooting competition in the cultures of both Germany and Switzerland. At a Schützenfest, contestants compete based on their shooting abilities, for example by shooting at a wooden representation of an eagle. The winner of the competition becomes the 'Schützenkönig' (“king of marksmen”) until the next year's competition.
The Deuces (Aces) have the letter “A” upside down in the lower right corner. The Kings, bearded and with substantial paunches, have the letter “K” in the same place. The Obers, which are usually represented by men, in this deck are ladies wearing period costume and carrying rifles, with the letter “O” in the lower right corner. The Unters have the suit symbol at the lower end of the card as is usual but no letter in the corner. The playing card maker’s name appears on the Ten of Bells as Eckert & Zahn Nachfg., Leipzig although the deck was printed & published by Aug. Kurth, Leipzig. The tax stamp on the Ace of Hearts is the one that was in use from 1879 to 1918 and reads “Deutsches Reich—Dreissig PF—No.59”.
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Rod Starling is one of the founding members of the 52 Plus Joker card collectors club. He has written many articles for the club's quarterly newsletter, Clear the Decks. His collection still encompasses both foreign and American decks. Rod has also authored a book titled The Art and Pleasures of Playing Cards.