In 1923, an iceberg drifted into the Baltic Sea and collided with the German port town of Lübeck. From this historical incident emerged the Eisbergfreistadt or Iceberg Free State in which the town’s residents "colonized" the glacier, established new laws, citizenship requirements, and an inflated currency. The short-lived utopian state came to an end when a large masked ball was held to celebrate the creation of the Eisbergfreistadt bank. During the celebration, the iceberg split under the weight with one of the parts drifting towards the arctic and the other melting. Although the creation of the Eisbergfreistadt is an actual historical incident, it is not clear to what extent it actually existed. See the box►
In 2006-2007 two artists - Nicholas Kahn and Richard Selesnick, who specialize in fictitious histories set in both the past and future, blurred fact and fiction in a series of exhibitions in the USA and Germany, which told the story of the iceberg using a variety of invented media including newspaper clippings, photographs, postcards, cultural relics, banknotes, and period clothing.
This pack is described as a 2006 facsimile of an original hand-coloured pack printed in Lübeck in 1923 by the Royal Excavation Corps and published as a souvenir for the Iceberg Ball of October 13th 1923 in both German and English editions. However, it is unlikely that such a pack ever existed but is rather the creation of the artists themselves. There are four suits, birds, chimneys, icebergs, and thorns. Together they form a continuous panorama. A printed catalogue illustrating each card accompanies.
Member since July 27, 2022
I graduated in Russian and East European Studies from Birmingham University in 1969. It was as an undergraduate in Moscow in 1968 that I stumbled upon my first 3 packs of “unusual” playing cards which fired my curiosity and thence my life-long interest. I began researching and collecting cards in the early 1970s, since when I’ve acquired over 3,330 packs of non-standard cards, mainly from North America, UK and Western Europe, and of course from Russia and the former communist countries.
Following my retirement from the Bodleian Library in Dec. 2007 I took up a new role as Head of Library Development at the International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications (INASP) to support library development in low-income countries. This work necessitated regular training visits to many sub-Saharan African countries and also further afield, to Vietnam, Nepal and Bangladesh – all of which provided rich opportunities to further expand my playing card collection.
Since 2019 I’ve been working part-time in the Bodleian Library where I’ve been cataloguing the bequest of the late Donald Welsh, founder of the English Playing Card Society.
A limited edition art print of the Jack of Clubs 1984 woodblock joker.
A limited edition art print of the King of Diamonds 1984 woodblock joker.
A limited edition art print of the Queen of Clubs 1984 woodblock joker.
‘National Costumes of Turkey’ tarot by Industrie Comptoir, Leipzig, c.1800-1825.
French-suited Æsop’s fables tarot produced by Leipzig Industrie Comptoir, c.1800-1825.
Pack conceived by Berthold Conradi, commemorating the 700th anniversary of the granting of town righ...
Dondorf Jägerkarte Nr. 465 playing cards dedicated to the theme of hunting, c.1930.
Publicity pack for the East German furniture industry, with designs by Werner-Hans Schlegel.
Complete pack of 36 hand-painted and silk-inlaid playing cards with French suits made in Germany.
Characters and scenes from the Disney film of the same name, on a pack made for Eastern Europe.
Featuring Disney Princesses and Enchanting Tales in two sizes of pack made for Eastern Europe.
Traditional Italian card game with comic designs by Benito Jacovitti.
Review of “Trzes’ Moorish Deck” facsimile published by Ulrich Kaltenborn, Berlin, 2023.
Promotional pack for a German steel hardening business, with designs by Costante Costantini.
This tarot deck captures the idealised Eastern world's magic from the eighteenth and nineteenth cent...
‘Baraja Mística’ satirical playing-cards featuring revelling clergy published by Litografía Fernánde...
Some early examples of popular German playing cards from the XV and XVI centuries.
Anti-Communist propaganda pack with satirical designs by Benito Jacovitti.
Bicycle “EveRydAy zomBIES” playing cards with artwork by Rob Sacchetto, USA, 2013.
Bicycle ‘Elves & Orcs’ playing cards illustrated by Nathanael Iwata, USA, 2013.
‘Amorcillos’ (Cupids), a masterpiece from the golden age of Spanish playing cards by Clemente Roxas,...
Costumes of people of Brazil, Peru and Mexico, with views of Rio de Janeiro on the aces.
Cards on cards in celebration of playing-card collector Franz Braun’s 75th birthday.
Artist Edward Locker’s view of London life in 1799, using every card in the pack as part of the pict...
Designs by Jürgen Pankarz for the 20th anniversary of the Wolfgang Dorn advertising agency, Cologne....
Detailed pen and ink drawings of the major arcana by the German artist Helmut Wonschick.
‘Iceberg Free State 1923’ fantasy playing cards with a cautionary moral lesson, Germany, 2006.
Pack devised by Volker Scheub depicting characters associated with the city of Tübingen.
Unlikely, ridiculous or just plain impossible means of transport, drawn by Hubert Rublon.
Folio Society Clare Mackie playing cards with playful and charming designs.
Enhance your Dungeons & Dragons game with the Tarokka Deck, a tarot-inspired set of cards that bring...