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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.

Walter Scharff

Walter Scharff was of Jewish descent. After some early experiences working in a cardboard factory and printing business cards, Walter Scharff established a playing card factory in 1923 and published a small but elegant range of German, Swiss and French-suited decks. There was a lot of competition in the playing card industry in those days, and in 1931 his business was taken over by V.A.S.S.

Walter Scharff

Deutsche Spielkartenfabrik Walter Scharff KG, München, Germany, 1923-1931

Walter Scharff was of Jewish descent. After some early experiences working in a cardboard factory and printing business cards, Walter Scharff established a playing card factory in 1923 and published a small but elegant range of German, Swiss and French-suited decks. There was a lot of competition in the playing card industry in those days, and in 1931 his business was taken over by V.A.S.S. For a time he was a member of the board of directors and his cards were sold under his old trademark, but with the rise of Hitler's dictatorship he lost his shares and commercial interests in Germany and in 1937 Walter Scharff and his family emigrated to Egypt where he founded “Moharrem Press” in Alexandria. His new trademark was a camel. However, due to political events, in 1962 he was forced to emigrate once again, this time to Switzerland. He died in 1967, aged 74.

Above: the pastel shades of colours on this deck make it particularly attractive, c.1925. Full size version 93mm x 60mm but patience size versions also exist. 52+2J. The Ace of Hearts has the legend: 'DEUTSCHE SPIELKARTEN-FABRIK WALTER SCHARFF K. G. MUNCHEN' and tax stamp has legend: 'DEUTSCHES REICH Nr.145'. The Seven of Hearts has a small logo which reads: 'Trumpf Karten'. Images courtesy Barney Townshend.


REFERENCES

Jasskarten aus Ennetbaden in "Ennetbadener Post", Nr.2, pp.12-16, May 2007.

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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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Walter Scharff

Walter Scharff

Walter Scharff was of Jewish descent. After some early experiences working in a cardboard factory and printing business cards, Walter Scharff established a playing card factory in 1923 and published a small but elegant range of German, Swiss and French-suited decks. There was a lot of competition in the playing card industry in those days, and in 1931 his business was taken over by V.A.S.S.