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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.

Swiss Album patience

Swiss Album patience cards manufactured by C. L. Wüst (Frankfurt), c.1900, with a different landscape on the reverse of each card. The court cards depict costumed figures along with shields from the cantons.

Swiss Album patience, C.L. Wüst (Frankfurt), c.1900

Responding to the rise of tourism in Europe, Wüst, together with Müller and Dondorf, were in the forefront of the manufacture of souvenir packs featuring costumes of Swiss cantons with scenes on the aces. The result portrays Switzerland as a romantic and charming destination. The manufacturer's monogram 'C.L.W.' is visible inside the little six-pointed star on the jack of clubs.

Swiss Album patience No.90 manufactured by C. L. Wüst (Frankfurt), c.1900 Swiss Album patience No.90 manufactured by C. L. Wüst (Frankfurt), c.1900 Swiss Album patience No.90 manufactured by C. L. Wüst (Frankfurt), c.1900

Above: Swiss Album patience No.90 manufactured by C. L. Wüst (Frankfurt), c.1900, with a different landscape on the reverse of each card inside a decorative oval frame. The court cards depict costumed figures along with shields from the cantons and the aces are scenic. 52 cards in box.

REFERENCES

Shaw, Martin & Symons, Paul: Playing cards from the factory C.L.Wüst, Frankfurt, Germany (1811-1927), Catalogue of the exhibition held at the Nationaal Museum van de Speelkaart, Turnhout, Belgium, 23 September-31 December 2005.