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Ravi Varma Press

Ravi Varma Press, Bombay, India, c.1910.

It is unclear how many decks or different editions of playing cards were published by the Ravi Varma Press of Bombay, India, but the list includes historical and mythological titles. This colourful but untitled example was probably printed in c.1910. As it has square corners, rather than rounded ones, it may be one of the earlier examples.

The twelve court cards are double-ended but not named. They appear to depict Moghul rulers on the kings, their Begums and armed guards on the queens and jacks.

playing cards printed by Ravi Varma Press, Bombay, India, c.1910

Above: the ace of spades with manufacturer’s details and trade mark. The RVP monogram is intertwined with a sprig, which makes the P appear to have a front leg like the R. (Click image to zoom).

Ravi Varma Press, Bombay, India, c.1910 Ravi Varma Press, Bombay, India, c.1910

Above: playing cards printed by Ravi Varma Press, Bombay, India, c.1910. 52 cards + joker. Elephant back design + an extra Deity back design on a spare card. All images courtesy Jon Randall.


FURTHER REFERENCES

Gordhandas, Kishor N.: Playing-cards article about Ravi Varma

Gordhandas, Kishor N.: Raja Ravi Varma's Playing Cards

Randall, Jon: Ravi Varma Playing Cards


Indian Matchbox Labels

Above: assorted matchbox labels with suit symbols (not connected with Ravi Varma Press). Courtesy Rex Pitts.

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By Donald Welsh

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